Moving update and our empty house

Hi. 
My name is Sarah…I blog at this site called Thrifty Decor Chick. Remember that blog?  😂
I’m coming up for air — selling and moving has absolutely kicked my butt. It’s been emotionally and physically exhausting. But so far…I would do this process over again (I’d just start packing much sooner) for the end result — and it isn’t even done yet. 😉 That’s saying a LOT and if you’ve seen me and my harried look and blank stares over the past few weeks, shows you how excited I am for our new house. 
But. I’m going out on a limb here and doing what I hardly ever do…I’m going to say the "never" word. Barring unexpected life events, we are NEVER moving ever again. Mark my words. I’m putting them in writing on this day so it will be known. This shouldn’t be a problem, as I’ve never had the urge to move until I walked through our forever dream house a few months back. So I don’t see ever getting the bug again. 
But. Nevahhh
The last I talked with you we had just moved all of our furniture out of our house, and then two hours later got word that a house sale down the line fell through. Turns out we were staying put for awhile…just with no things. Ha! 
Many of you were confused by why a house four down the line would affect us. It’s simple really — each buyer had to sell to buy the next seller’s house. If one falls through we’re all affected. It left four families in limbo…but it did not last long! 
We have a very close friend who was getting married in Mexico last week and we’ve had it on our calendar for almost a year. Hence our early move out last week. So we moved out and the next day headed out of the country for a couple days of the beach and margaritas. It did not suck. We paused all of the prep to close on our house, including finalizing details with the lender, insurance rep and utilities. 
We got word on Thursday that the sales were back ON!! Wonderful news!! But the last day of our trip we were scrambling to get things finished. I was totally happy with that because I really needed the security of knowing our house was going to sell soon to get us in to our new one. 
So that’s the update — we closed on our house today (and close on the new one in a few days) and are now in a short term hotel for at least six weeks. Our friends moved into our house yesterday and we were in and out all day grabbing last minute stuff. We had SO many random things laying around! Two things I’ve learned — Lego sets are nearly impossible to move without total destruction and Nerf bullets breed like rabbits. Or at least it seems like it. 
Here’s the thing. I haven’t been that sad! I realized this morning it’s because of the simple fact that we will still be able to go see our house all the time…and get to see it loved. How lucky are we? Most people have to walk away from their home forever and never see it again. Ours is not goodbye but a see you soon. Even through all the stress and exhaustion that is not lost on me. We are so very fortunate and I still can’t believe it worked out like this. 
I went through the house taking photos of the rooms as I finished emptying them out. I did this to have them for myself, but many of you asked to see them as well. I have never been prouder of our home than when it was empty. Isn’t that funny? The character I have added to this home makes it shine without one lick of furniture or decor. It is a true, special beauty and I love it more now than I ever have. 
Here are the photos — enjoy! I link to each room reveal above the photos and below each photo I linked to ALL of my posts on each of these rooms so you can see the projects through the years. (These were all taken with my cell so the quality isn’t the best, sorry about that!)
DIY built in bookcases using kitchen cabinets

Turning a dining room into a library

White wainscoting on walls
(My friend is babysitting the plants while we’re in between.)
Gray and white kitchen cabinets

Window seat in kitchen
Kitchen with black chalkboard
DIY extended island in kitchen
You can see how I transformed this space and all of the projects here.
Gray fireplace with built ins

Board and batten on walls
This one is partly kitchen too. 😉 
DIY book nook closet
Office with built in double desk

Basement with built in cubbies and stone fireplace
basement kitchenette with shelves

That’s just a few of my favorite spaces in the house, and the ones I’m most proud of after everything was out. I forgot to grab one of our bedroom but it was so beautiful as well!

OK, I swear I’ll be back to a normal posting schedule very shortly! I’m hoping this week but I’ve learned not to promise. 😉 We still have another closing to finish up and I have to get our hotel space somewhat organized so we can stop tripping over each other (and the cats). I have some wonderful updates to share on the new house and will also be blogging about each room in our "old" (that’s weird to say!) home because I didn’t even share some of the final finished spaces.

But I WILL be blogging in a more normal fashion again and I’m really looking forward to it. 🙂 Thanks for your patience with me! This is going to be a fun new journey!

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Nevertheless, She Persisted: A Jewish Heroine of the Renaissance

Nevertheless, She Persisted, ed. Mindy KlaskyBack in the 1990s, when themed anthologies were all the rage, I heard about one that was right up my alley and open to submission: Ancient Enchantresses, to be edited by Kathleen M. Massie-Ferch and Martin H. Greenberg for DAW. The editors wanted historical fantasy featuring strong women characters and magic, as is clear from the title. As I cast about for a subject, I found myself more and more – excuse the pun – disenchanted with Western European historical characters. It seemed to me that the women of interest had been portrayed more than frequently enough, and I had little interest in Celtic mythology. When I lamented my lack of inspiration to a friend – not a fantasy writer, but the director of a pre-school at a Jewish community center – she suggested I take a look at Written Out of History: Our Jewish Foremothers, by Sondra Henry and Emily Taitz (3rd ed, Biblio Press, 1988). Posthaste, I ordered a copy of the book and then pored through it. The chapters were short, more summations than in-depth histories. Although quite a few of them piqued my interest, only one suggested a story, that of Dona Gracia Nasi. The section began:

 

Unlike Benvenida Abrabanel, Beatrice de Luna belonged to a family that had chosen to become Marranos [unwilling converts to Catholicism – also known as conversos] so that they could remain in their home in Portugal. They had a successful business and a rich life. Beatrice was born in 1510, thirteen years after the expulsion of all practicing Portuguese Jews. Those remaining in Portugal worked hard to hide any Jewish allegiance from the world…

I devoured the section, all four pages of it, from Beatrice inheriting her husband’s share of an immense international commodities business to her flight from one country after another, the Inquisition hot on her heels, to her imprisonment in Venice, her transformation into Dona Gracia Nasi (her childhood Jewish name), to her eventually settling in Turkey at the invitation of the Sultan. But all this was so abbreviated as to be tantalizing without deep substance.

In the footnotes, however, I discovered that historian Cecil Roth had written an entire book about Gracia, The House of Nasi: Dona Gracia (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1947). Although the book was out of print, I was able to borrow a copy from a local university library. Within those scholarly pages, I discovered a story as dramatic, tragic, and inspiring as anything out of Hollywood or New York.

I could have tried to tell Gracia’s entire story, but that would have meant either another abridged version or an extensive tome. I decided, therefore, to focus on a shorter period of her life: the flight from Antwerp (when Queen Marie of Burgundy, Regent of the Low Countries and sister to Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire, schemed to marry off Gracia’s young daughter to one of her courtiers) to Venice. I’d visited Venice briefly during the time I lived in France (1991) and had vivid memories of the shadows under the bridges over the canals, the ancient plazas and towers, and the omnipresence of the sea. I wandered through the original ghetto, Il Ghetto, the old foundry district. I cut out an image from a tourist brochure of a person in the traditional Mardi Gras costume called bauta (including a white mask, tricorne hat, and a black tabarro, a short cloak) and pinned it on my bulletin board, hoping to find a story that would capture the sense of brooding menace. (As an aside, I’m not comfortable with clowns, either.) Armed with image, memory, and scholarly text, I embarked upon the tale.

“Unmasking the Ancient Light” is a tribute to the perseverance of a woman under extraordinary reversals and dangers. Life was perilous for European Jews in the Renaissance, as it had been in centuries earlier. Jews had been expelled from (among others) England (1290), France (1182, 1306, 1321, 1394), Spain (1492), and Portugal (1497). The series of expulsions forced Jewish communities to find safe (or safer) havens, in the Netherlands, Venice, and Islamic countries, such as the Ottoman Empire. They developed international systems of commerce and banking, as well as close familial and communities ties. Gracia’s family was no exception. From Spain (“convert, leave, or die!”) they relocated to Portugal, then to Antwerp, and so forth. While in Italy, Gracia dropped the pretense of a converso and began finding ways to support her fellow exiles, whether lending material aid to individuals to becoming a patron of the arts to creating a printing house to publish Jewish texts in Hebrew and also Spanish (the Ferrera Bible) for those unable to read the ancient languages.

The list of Gracia’s accomplishments could easily fill the word count of a piece of short fiction, but I wanted her story to be more than a list of the amazing things she had done. I wanted to capture the spirit of the woman – if not historically accurate, as is always the challenge with fantasy – but one that would speak to the hearts of readers as Gracia had spoken across the centuries to me. I focused, then, on her struggle to survive the political intrigues and animosities of her time while preserving and nourishing the spirit of her people. The magic, as it were. Here I found a second inspiration in various treatments of the feminine aspect of the divine and the equivalence of the Shekhinah, sometime called the Indwelling Spirit, with light, without getting too dogmatic or theological.

As a final note, since I dutifully returned Cecil Roth’s book to the university library, my husband presented me with a copy of The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Dona Gracia Nasi, A Jewish Leader During the Renaissance (Andree Aelion Brooks, Paragon House, 2002). If you want to know more about her, I recommend this highly accessible book (which has a ton of footnotes, for the historians among you).

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BVC Announces The Way You Look Tonight by Mindy Klasky

The Way You Look Tonight coverThe Way You Look Tonight
Harmony Springs 3
by Mindy Klasky

A May-December romance fans flames in a small town…

At the ripe old age of twenty-six, Anne Barton is content to live with her mother in her cozy childhood home, surrounded by stuffed animals and girlish dreams. But the owner of the Orchard Diner has a secret: when she was twelve she caused a horrific fire that brutally scarred her best friend.

Forty-four-year-old firefighter Will O’Hara knows he should campaign for the job of Harmony Springs Fire Chief. Doing so, though, would force him to overcome his blinding fear of public speaking.

When a charity stunt pits Anne against Will in the small town’s Mayor for a Day election, both candidates are pushed far outside their comfort zones. Anne must confront the crush she’s had on Will since the fireman rescued her from her nightmare inferno. And Will battles his own burning attraction, knowing Anne is young enough to be his daughter. If they keep playing with fire, someone is sure to get burned.

Read a sample online

Buy The Way You Look Tonight at BVC Ebookstore

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He might be the chef!

We've found a little way to make a big difference

 

Have you seen Ratatouille?

It’s a cute movie. There’s a rat in a restaurant, and it’s not gross because the rat is a chef.

Moral: Sometimes small things have big impact.

Big companies have a habit of putting tons of money and manpower into projects, only to call them off because they’re too small. But everything starts small.

Great small things can turn into great big things. Don’t kill the little ones – they might be the chef.

The post He might be the chef! appeared first on Gapingvoid.

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Sustainable passion

you're either doing what you're most passionate about

 

Maybe being passionate about our work doesn’t mean what we think it means.

Passion doesn’t mean neverending love. Passion means…well, passion.

We’re all passionate about something. There’s something that we love talking about, thinking about, even doing — but that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or it’s perfect.

It certainly doesn’t mean it will make you want to work 70-hour weeks or sleep in your office.

In his post, Screw Finding Your Passion, Mark Manson writes that we need to stop searching for our passion, because we’ve already found it; what’s left is to stop fearing our passion.

When you love doing something, it’s worth the struggle. It’s worth the difficult days and long nights and sore muscles.

And that’s what will push you to be better. That’s the thing that will get you through.

The post Sustainable passion appeared first on Gapingvoid.

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North St. Bags Flanders Backpack and Davis Daypack :: Drive By

North St. Bags, handmade out of Portland Oregon, added two new rolltops to their line this spring: the Davis 20L and the Flanders 32L. Both bags utilize a VX-21 X-Pack drop liner for increased weather resistance and everyone’s favorite burly 1000D Cordura brand nylon on the outside for longevity and general PNW grit.

While the Flanders has a handful more features than the Davis, it’s easiest to think of them as big brother little brother. Same silhouette, same build, materials, access, etc.

I’ve been all over the last three months and have used the Flanders as my daily carry for chores, hotel stays, and as my personal bag on a road trip across the country to my new home in RVA. These bags are built to last and are up for whatever, so let’s get into it.

North St. Bags

Who It Suits

City slickers and urban commuters, the styling and materials are right at home in your concrete jungle.

Who It Doesn’t

Boardroom champions, these are dialed for urban play and lack the shirt and collar cred necessary for your office meetings. Outdoorsy folks, the VX-21 and 1000D Cordura are certainly up for the task, but I found they lacked the features and comfort for all-day outdoor use. Add on the optional hip belts if you plan on logging dirt time with the packs.

Flanders

The Good

Build and Materials:

North St. used some choice materials for these packs. VX-21 is frequently used as an outer fabric, so when North St. decided to use it as a liner under 1000D Cordura–well the term overkill comes to mind. The result is a bag that holds its silhouette even with a half load. I turned a few heads the first time I took the Flanders out to play, and a couple of self-proclaimed bag geeks stopped me for some info on North St.—jazzy.

North St. Bags Flanders

I did not find any issues with the fit and finish, and I literally turned the bag inside out looking for one.

Organizational Options:

North St. Bags Flanders

As is, the Flanders has two front face envelope pockets measuring *6”x9” and 7”x8” with 10mm PU-coated coil zips from Lenzip. I found those to be enough for my daily odds and ends. If I needed additional organization, I just dropped a DAKA in the main compartment. If you think you’ll need more than two pockets, North St. offers a handful of organization pouches that you can hang from the internal hook and loop panels. Cable management? EDC items? North St. has a pouch for that. The built-in laptop sleeve on the Flanders also has a discreet little document envelope sewn in to keep your corners crisp.

*All measurements are close approximations to give readers an idea of space and loading potential.

North St. Bags Flanders


“VX-21 is frequently used as an outer fabric, so when North St. decided to use it as a liner under 1000D Cordura–well the term overkill comes to mind.”


North St. Bags Flanders

North St. Bags Flanders

Attention to Detail:

The slider on the main strap is smooth! Little details like this keep the pack looking sharp and prevent any excess webbing from slowing you down. Additional sliders on the compression straps achieve the same thing and keep your pack streamlined and dangle-free.

North St. Bags Flanders

North St. Bags Flanders

North St. went as far as to add D-rings on the end of the shoulder straps to make tension adjustments easier. Even the carry handle is sewn off in a way that doesn’t expose raw edges and feels plush and comfortable.

North St. Bags Flanders

Access & Compression:

North St. Bags Flanders

Rolltops in larger volume bags can be a bummer if there’s no additional main compartment access. In a 32L day bag, it’s a non-issue. What’s more, with the VX cloth liner, the Flanders is nearly waterproof. I’m throwing the compression system in here because with the addition of the single rolltop strap, you’ve got five additional attachment points for tripods, blankets, jackets, whatever. I appreciate that external real estate because it provides a little more lateral creativity in what you can carry and how you can carry it.

North St. Bags Flanders

The Not So Good

The weakest part of the Flanders is its suspension. It’s not bad by any means, but in the spirit of a good review, I’m going to make two suggestions for improvement.

While carrying a laptop, I noticed a good increase in pressure on my lower back. I think doubling up on the padding on the lumbar panel would make a big improvement. Since we can’t adjust the torso length on the pack, the only adjustment we can make is to the shoulder straps themselves. At 6’1’’, when I dial in the fit on the shoulder straps my laptop corners put pressure squarely on my kidneys. Not a deal breaker, but I either have to ride the pack a little lower than I want, or just deal with the pressure. I experienced similar discomfort hauling groceries. I think adding a light framesheet or increasing lower lumbar padding would be an amazing upgrade to an already solid pack.

North St. Bags Flanders

The other weak spot is the shoulder straps, which again could benefit from just one more layer of padding. The width and shape work just fine, but when stuffing the 32L main compartment full of weekend grilling essentials, the bag tends to lean back a bit. This is more a fit issue, but assuming North St. isn’t going to offer more than one torso length, a little extra cushioning in high-pressure areas would be a welcome modification in future models.


“The weakest part of the Flanders is its suspension.”


North St. Bags Flanders

Davis

North St. Bags Davis

The Good

The Davis is a perfect example of less is more. North St. is using some really topnotch fabrics and letting a simple design speak for itself. One 7”x8” envelope pocket on the front face for your phone/keys/wallet and you’re out the door.


“The Davis is a perfect example of less is more. North St. is using some really topnotch fabrics and letting a simple design speak for itself.”


North St. Bags Davis

Usable volume on the pack is great. It’s a 20L sack with endless possibilities for you to fill it. There’s no compression to clutter the aesthetics, and at only 4.5″ deep, I really don’t think the bag needs it.

The Not So Good

North St. Bags Davis

The Davis is a scaled-down version of the Flanders in every way. That unfortunately translated to a very minimal pair of shoulder straps. Since it’s a small pack, you won’t be hauling huge loads across town, but in my opinion they’re the biggest opportunity for improvement.


“The Davis is a scaled-down version of the Flanders in every way. That unfortunately translated to a very minimal pair of shoulder straps.”


North St. Bags Davis

I’d also like to see a light framesheet or a laptop sleeve to provide just a little more rigidity to the back panel. For the customer looking for those features, North St. offers the Flanders of course, which includes all those things the Davis drops.

Nitpicking

I could make a case against the drop liners, but they didn’t prove awkward enough for me to get up in arms about them. In future iterations, I’d like to see the VX panels sewn in to clean up the interior a bit. If you wanted to wipe the main compartment, you could just as easily pull the drop liner out as turn the bag inside out. That’s just my personal preference.

North St. Bags

 North St. Bags

Alternatives to Consider

I think with the materials and the end user in mind, Chrome bags are an obvious comparison. YNOT, out of Toronto, is doing some similar stuff as well.

Verdict

I like the Flanders. It found its way into rotation for me pretty quickly. It checks all my boxes for organization, volume and access, and comfort and style. I really dig VX fabric; the rolltop and compression straps give me enough flexibility to head out with a half load and grab some groceries on the way back. It’s a solid all-rounder.

The Davis is a great kicker pack. I’m 6’1’’ 180 lbs and it’s a bit small for me. As a daypack for urban exploration, it might fit the bill on shorter outings, but I’d rather compress 32 liters to 20 liters than be limited by the Davis’s volume. The shoulder straps are much less substantial and there’s no laptop sleeve sewn in, so it carries much less forgivingly as well. I still wouldn’t hesitate to grab it for beach trips and weekend excursions to local parks.

North St. Bags Davis

North St. Bags Davis

For me, the Flanders is a no-brainer between the two—the increased price is easily justified for the additional features and versatility.

The Breakdown:

Davis

Flanders

Geek (Performance)
Space & Access: 6 7
Organization: 5 6
Comfort: 6 7
Style (Design)
Look & Feel: 8 8
Build, Materials, & Hardware: 8 8
Features: 6 7
Stoke (Experience)
Warranty & Support: 8 8
Brand Experience: 9 9
Value: 6 7
X-Factor: 8 8

Carryology Score:                                                    7                                             7.5

The post North St. Bags Flanders Backpack and Davis Daypack :: Drive By appeared first on Carryology – Exploring better ways to carry.

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