Notes from Moving House

Last week, we packed up and moved to a new house. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I arrived at the new house to find the yard an absolute riot of roses in full bloom, which I took as a sign that this was the right place for us. We’ve spent the last week settling in and learning how to feel at home in this new place. And also unpacking. It’s the first time I’ve moved in nearly 5 years, and the first time Dan and I have moved together, so I had forgotten what it’s like to be thrown into a new environment. Add to that the unique challenge of sorting out two houses while caring for an infant, and suffice to say, it’s been an interesting week.

Getting out of the Dirty Work

Because we have Elliot, one of us always has to be around to watch him when he’s not at daycare. We wisely scheduled our packers and movers to come on Thursday and Friday so we could take him to daycare, and then return to help with that. It was very smart. Unfortunately, there was enough left to be done over the weekend that we had to decide which one of us had to stay at the new house with Elliot and which went to the old house to scrub five years’ worth of grime out of the crevices that had been hidden by furniture. Because I have the milk, I got to stay at the new house and got out of all the cleaning. In case anyone thinks this was unfair, Dan decided on this arrangement before I had even thought about it.

Luckily, our former landlady was immensely understanding of the fact that we were moving out of a house that had been continually rented without totally turning over for years before we even moved in, and Dan didn’t need to spend too much time cleaning. Unfortunately, our mulberry tree decided to fruit and drop berries right on our front walk the week we moved, so the movers tracked mulberries everywhere, so he did have to clean that up. But he easily finished by Sunday evening, which left us most of Monday to decompress (before he left for a trip!).

You Live Among Boxes Now

Our new place is quite a bit smaller than our old place. Now, we didn’t have as much stuff as would normally fill a three-bedroom house, so moving to a two-bedroom wasn’t too difficult, and we were able to get rid of a lot of old things that we didn’t need, but it’s still a bit cramped since we haven’t fully unpacked. I’ve given us the reasonable goal of being unpacked before the end of June. The first room I unpacked was the office/tea room so that we have a nice place to sit in the mornings, with a relatively clear floor space for Elliot to play. Which is nice because our living room is currently the repository of empty boxes. Sophie has eked out a spot on the back of the sofa that isn’t covered in packing materials so she can rest and look out one of the many beautiful windows.

But for the most part, we are still living out of boxes and with boxes as our primary decor. We’ve cleared a sort of pathway through the boxes in the living room so we can walk from one end of the house to the other. And I still haven’t found the box that has my dirty laundry in it so I can have the clothes I wear most often. I was able to find one last work-appropriate dress this morning, hidden under a sweater in my drawer, but this weekend, finding and washing laundry will be necessary.

New Things and Old Things

I think the most exciting thing (for me) about the new house is that I have a more-or-less dedicated tea room. Yes, Dan’s desk is in the same room, but for the most part, our second bedroom is a space for me to enjoy tea, meditate, and do my yoga. Because we had to purge all the clutter that littered our old spare room, it’s going to be clear (as soon as we get rid of empty boxes!). We decided that it was best to put my tea things in a separate room so that we can close the door and keep Elliot out once he starts pulling himself up on the furniture. It also has an east-facing window, so it gets beautiful morning sun.

We also have a beautiful new kitchen, with more counter and cabinet space, a gas stove, and a dishwasher for the first time in years. Dan is particularly excited about that one, since he’s been on dish duty for the last five years. But I’m excited to start using my new kitchen. We’ve been eating takeout for the last week or so, so the first thing we’re going to do this weekend is sort out the kitchen so I can start cooking again.

But of course, the more things change, the more they remain the same. One of the things that saddened me a little was leaving all the neighborhood cats that I’d gotten to know over the years. So what do I see the day we get to the new house? A cat lounging behind our house! There are two cats that I’ve seen who like to lounge in our yard or sun themselves on the fence. I believe they live at the house behind us, since they look much too well-fed to be strays.

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So that’s where we’re at moving. It’s been an exciting and terrifying week, but the new place is starting to feel like home. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when we get everything unpacked and decorated!

Happenings and Updates: A New Family Member

A lot has been going on over the last week or so. I’ve continued to plan our wedding, although there’s been a bit of a lull in that. I’ve also discovered a new-to-me television show and because it’s The Great British Bake-Off, that means I’ve also found myself inspired to bake more often. But the biggest news is that we have a new addition to our small family.

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This is the TweedCat. That’s not her real name, obviously, but she’s a rescue and we plan on changing her rescue name anyway. Right now, we just call her “cat” most of the time, and she seems alright with that. She came home on Saturday and has settled in pretty completely.

Her likes include not sitting still, especially for photos, food, and cuddles. Her dislikes seem to include doors, stairs, and when we don’t let her into a room. She’s a very small cat and young enough that she bears being picked up and held with admirable patience, but will let you know when enough is becoming enough. And watching Fiance play with her is a joy. For not-a-cat-person, he really loves her.

So the next few weeks will involve a lot of settling in on all sides. I’m still learning how to cook with a cat constantly coming in and trying to investigate or steal the food. And I think she’s still trying to get used to having as much space as our house affords, but not being allowed to go outside.

Weekend Crafting and Historical Exploration

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I had a lovely, relaxing weekend, this weekend. I started off on Friday evening by having some friends over to play board games and share a nice fall meal. I made my standby butternut squash pasta casserole, along with mini cheesecakes to celebrate a friend who had a birthday last week. It was simple, but delicious and certainly fortified us for an evening of fun games. It also served to soak up some of the cocktails we poured.

And then on Saturday, I went to my aerials class, and then just relaxed. I puttered around in the kitchen with some crafts. I recently ordered all the butters and oils and beeswax I need to make lip balms and lotion bars for holiday gifts, but I receive a small sample of cocoa butter in the order. I also recently bought some babassu oil for soaping, but discovered it could be a lovely balm ingredient as well. So I mixed up a couple of experimental batches. The cocoa butter was just enough to make one tube of lip balm. I mixed it with beeswax and some hazelnut oil to make a chocolate-hazelnut lip balm, although it smells only lightly of cocoa butter.

Then, I mixed up a slightly larger batch of babassu oil, mango butter, and beeswax to try out as both a lip balm and a lotion bar. I poured most out into an empty deodorant container (clean, of course) to use as a body butter, and then also was able to fill five lip balm tubes. The babassu oil melts at just below body temperature so it rolls on smoothly, but soaks in rapidly, so the skin is not left feeling greasy. I used some of it after shaving last evening, and found it left my skin feeling velvety, not oily. Boyfriend especially appreciated it, as when I use a soft balm in a jar, I tend to apply too much and my lovely smooth legs get a little greasy.

From there, I decided to make another batch of soap. This one used tallow, coconut oil, and olive oil to make a lovely, simple bar. I increased my super fat just a tad, as I’ve found my recently-tested first batch to be a touch drying. And I added oatmeal and calendula to the soap batter for an extra skin-soothing touch. They rested in my craft room for a couple days and I unmolded them this morning. My crafting room shelves are certainly filling up with soaps and balms!

I also used Saturday to just rest and relax and make a big batch of butternut squash and sweet potato soup for my lunches this week. The soup comes together quickly, simmers for a while, and blitzes up in the blender with very little effort. And soup and a cheese sandwich will be a nice early-fall lunch.

After such a relaxing Saturday, I went out on Sunday. I went downtown and spent the day at the National Museum of American History, where I browsed their new Innovation wing. There, I learned about all the inventions we take for granted that really changed the world. I was fascinated that they chose to include things like alarm clocks and deodorant along side exhibits about televisions and computers. And they had an entire exhibit about how ready-to-wear clothing changed the way people dressed and how the poor could move upwards in society. A truly neat look at how the early 20th century changed our social structure.

But the day spent on my feet meant I was particularly glad to come home to Boyfriend’s vegetarian chili and a nice hot bath for my Sunday evening beauty ritual!

The Ghost in Our Room

This is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as I don’t actually believe our room is haunted. You see, for the last year, I’ve noticed that the light coming through our bedroom window shines on the far wall, near the door of our bedroom, and takes the vague shape of a person standing there. It startles me in the middle of the night.

But I don’t want to put up dark curtains or a shade to block the light because I like having sunlight in the morning. Also, our bedroom light fixture burned out shortly after we moved in and we’ve never been able to find a replacement bulb that fits. So I like having a lot of natural light; I just don’t like the streetlights shining in.

And in some strange way, it’s almost like this false ghost is becoming a real comforting presence. Whenever I start in the middle of the night, I can remind myself that anything I think I saw or heard is probably nothing, like the ghost. We’ve even taken to calling the reverse-shadow “the ghost.” As in, “we have to go something about the ghost,” or “it’s just the ghost” when I wake up panicked.

So now I wonder, what if I were to come up with a story about the ghost who watches us benignly from the doorway of our bedroom? I’ve always said that our room might have originally been meant to be the children’s room because it is large enough to house a couple of bunk beds. Perhaps the gentle presence is some long-forgotten mother who wanders our little historical town and peeks in the doorways of bedrooms to make sure those inside are safe. It’s a nice thought, and somehow turns a ghost from a frightening presence to a comforting one.

It is foolish, I realize, to make up a story about a patch of light reflecting on the wall. But it’s there every night as I try to fall asleep, and ghost stories are ultimately stories about history, which are so interesting.