Sunday, September 27, 2009

Design on a Dime

It's been almost 3 months and Florin and I are still having a lot of fun decorating our home. We have really enjoyed working together to bring it all together. The latest is that Florin has done an excellent job with the directing and placement of all the pictures and photos throughout the home assisted by my hammering help. I love it that he's "just the right amount of European metrosexual"--fashion savvy with masculine swagger.

In any case, we've recently had some fun trying to find "functional art." These are pieces that are both interesting or intriguing AND functional. Examples may include furniture like unique coffee tables, bookcases/shelves, or in our recent case, a lamp.

See, Florin needs a lamp above the dresser to help him identify the color of his work socks in the early morning hours. We currently have my old 1960's metal mauve fluorescent lamp that is listing heavily to one side perched above his sock drawer. Let's face it, it works, but BOY IS IT UGLY. Normally, it wouldn't matter to us, but since that dresser is directly opposite of the bedroom door, it's really the first thing you see. We decided to keep an eye out for something ... nicer to look at.

About a month ago, I found the perfect lamp in the Pottery Barn catalog, but at $110 it wasn't the right price. Another one we liked was the Verilux - Legacy Natural Spectrum Desk and Table Lamp in Aged Bronze, but it ran closer to $130. (Do realize that we understand lamps are expensive, but it's really hard to justify spending $100+ just to look at socks ...) We kept both of those lamps in the back of our minds and hoped they would either reduce in price or we could find something comparable for less.

Last night as I was looking at sconces (for the movie room), I stumbled across the Sonneman Essex Arc Boom Table Lamp and it was not only beautiful, but incredibly functional. Only problem was that it was ... $330 new, and still $220 on sale. Ouch.

Not to be deterred, I was on the hunt to find it cheaper. No stone was left unturned as I combed eBay, Amazon, Froogle, but alas the $300 price tag was consistent. Only after I stumbled upon a blog post that talked about the wonderful folks (and prices) at CSN Lighting did I score an absolute deal. Not only did they have the Sonneman Essex Arc Boom Table Lamp, but they had it for only $52.34! Needless to say, Florin authorized that purchase right away!

It should be arriving shortly and I think it will not only look terrific, but provide a great purpose in that corner of our bedroom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Family Visiting Family!

It's strange how 5 days can be both slow and fast at the same time. It's Monday and I'm already on my way back to Roanoke, VA. I have just spent the last 5 days in Peoria, IL with the love of my life and fiance, Florin, and his intriguing European parents.

It's exciting because this is the trip that Florin's family finally had the chance to come over to The States to visit us in our new home! I'm so happy and excited, because they can finally see what he and I are so thrilled about: starting our new and exciting life together! It's our own little International House--not of pancakes, though; we prefer waffles & crepes! Ha, ha! ;)

Although Geta and Mircea had already been in the house for a week before I arrived, it wasn't a problem. I could see that they had settled in and had a routine going and I didn't want to interrupt that. They had already done so much (for us) around the house: pressure-washing the deck, purchasing tools and stain, brought us gifts, etc. I was hoping to have more chances to fix them meals or introduce them to particular American ways (as they had done for me in Romania), but the opportunities were not many.

As I had mentioned, I was only able to get away from work for a short while and it was unfortunately already going to be a difficult trip for me. Many unpleasant things had happened just prior to the visit. First, all three of my work days prior to Peoria were long and disastrous; the system I do training on appeared to experience a system-wide failure and left me looking silly and the system inept. (Not my best days in the job.) Then, I learned that the husband of a friend of ours had died without any suitable explanation as to how or why. It made me feel really sad and scared to imagine my own life without Florin ... I shudder to think of how painful and difficult it would be to have to live each day without the man I love and respect above anyone else. I think it was tough on Florin, too, once I told him of our deceased friend. It made us really appreciate how important it is to have one another and to really cherish the relationship and respect that we have for each other.

Despite the emotionally charged start, things started off and remained well. We had a fantastic trip to Chicago! We let Geta and Mircea call the shots on activities. Geta likes Jazz and Mircea is like me (we like food). For Friday night, Florin was able to direct us all to Andy's Jazz Club. The food was stellar, the waitress was Romanian, and the Jazz was loud, but quite enjoyable. On Saturday, we went to a bona fide American diner, Ohio House, for breakfast and then we were able to tour around Chicago on the Double-Decker bus in some of the most beautiful weather I've seen in a long time. We saw all the big buildings, was introduced to some of the rich history, and had the chance to mentally note places we wanted to zone in on. We then walked the city, visiting sites along the way and stopped into Potbelly Sandwiches for a quick eat. (Yum!) We visited Millennium Park and joked about taking Segway tours! It was a lot of fun and the sun seemed to set very quickly that day. By night we enjoyed Maggiano's, a terrific representation of Italian-American food.

Sunday was well spent in the Museum of Science and Industry. Florin found a good parking spot (although I did give him a hard time about it). :D We entered and bought tickets to the museum, the U-505 sub tour and for the IMAX Wild Oceans viewing. It is so difficult to believe that we spent 5 hours there! I think we all could've spent days in there and still not seen or experienced everything. (I am definitely going back at some point, hopefully soon! I know that my own family is very interested in going when they visit in November.) After it closed and we had to leave, we piled into the car and drove back to Peoria. While the family spoke and discussed things in Romanian, I arranged for transportation back to Blacksburg from Roanoke for my Monday flight. (I ended up taking the Smartway bus which worked out extremely well for only $3!) Then, we were home. As I took a short jog, Florin picked up a Chicago-style pizza. We sat down and introduced (and explained) American NFL Football to his parents. I think they actually enjoyed watching it and getting a sense of an American national pastime.

Night came and went. I had to depart very early in the morning. I didn't really get a chance to say goodbye or thank you to his parents since the night before seems premature to do so. Besides, I never really think of it as goodbye. It's more like a "see you later," or "soon," or "until next time!" There should always be a next time when you're talking about family ...

Despite the short trip and some of the obstacles, I think we did a pretty good job weaving work schedules, workout schedules, food preferences, habits, and household duties and chores with the needs and attentions for both the parents and for ourselves. You can't please all of the people all of the time, but it's not about that, anyway; these trips are about coexisting as a family and making new family memories.