Happy National Coffee Day!

My Facebook newsfeed greeted me this morning with a suggested post from Starbucks wishing me a Happy National Coffee Day.

The first thing that crossed my mind (after “Mmmm! Coffee!) was, “As a coffee aficionado addict, how did I miss the memo?” Then I realized that suggested posts in my Facebook newsfeed kind of are the modern memo. Which got me to thinking that I haven’t really heard the expression “I didn’t get the memo” much in recent years. Which made me wonder if anyone under 30 even knows what a memo is. Which made me realize that more and more I hear my kids saying things like, “Did you see the post/watch the video/read the tweet” which, for all intents and purposes gets the message across, except that they mean it quite literally, whereas “Didn’t you get the memo?” is the perfect way to figuratively point out someone’s cluelessness in a way that I don’t think could ever adequately be replaced by “Didn’t you see the post/watch the video/read the tweet.” By which point all I could think was, “Man, I need a coffee!”

In any case, had I been on the ball, I would have saved my post about turning my living room into a Starbucks for today. But I didn’t, so feel free to check it out if you missed it.

You can also read about my love affair with coffee here.

Happy National Coffee Day!




My next crazy reno idea

If you know me, you know that if I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking coffee.

And I’ve been at Starbucks a lot more than usual lately drinking an obscene amount of coffee to earn game plays in the Starbucks for Life contest.

While I didn’t win (damn you one missing game piece!) I also didn’t sleep much over the past three weeks (see obscene amounts of coffee mentioned above), giving me ample time and caffeinated energy to consider my next home renovation project.

So here’s the plan: I’m turning my living room into a Starbucks.

Hear me out…

I’ve struggled with our living room since we moved into our house. Originally, we furnished it and treated it as the traditional, formal living room it was meant to be. Translation: we never used it.

Later, when the kids came on the scene, we swapped out the coffee table for a Thomas the Train table, traded in the bookshelves for IKEA toy storage and used it as a playroom. That worked great for a few years, but as the kids got older and I started working from home, we transferred the playroom to the basement and set up an office space in the living room for me.

Because it was still technically the “living room,” however, we kept the sofa, chairs, end tables, coffee table, etc., in there along with my new desk and bookshelves. And oh, yes, the piano. There also happens to be a 5-foot baby grand piano sitting in the front window and taking up a good third of the space.

Instead of “living room” we could call it “the over-stuffed and under-used room.” Aside from my daughter using it to practice piano (when she can reach it) and me using it for work (which, more often than not, I take to the dining room table for a little breathing space), we rarely go in there.

So for the past couple of years, I’ve been toying with different ideas of what this room could and should be, moving furniture in and out and around, and rearranging artwork. But sitting in Starbucks today (go figure!) I had a revelation. Obviously, a traditional set-up in the living room just isn’t for us. We have a perfectly comfy family room complete with sofa, chairs, coffee table, end tables, TV and fireplace that we spend most of our time in. So why not take some inspiration from one of my other favourite places to be, and apply it to my living room?

Here’s what I’d like to do:

  • Trade in my office-y computer desk for a counter height, long, slim table and bar stools (like they have in the Starbucks window). This could serve not only as a great place to perch and work for me, or for the kids to do their homework, but also as extra seating when we have family or friends for dinner instead of the dreaded kids’ table.
  • Put cubby-like square shelves on the wall over my desk for my reference materials (like Starbucks has behind the counter to display bags of coffee).
  • Set up a “conversation pit” (the primo seats at Starbucks that people (and by “people” I mean “me”) are willing to hover over and let their lattes go cold for): a pair or two of comfy stuffed chairs facing each other over one or two small tables. That way, if the adults want to enjoy a coffee (or glass of wine) we might find ourselves gravitating there instead of the family room where the TV, the Wii and the kids are sure to be.
  • Work in lots of texture à la Starbucks décor: stone or brickwork (maybe an accent wall behind the piano), wood in varying grains, and modern rustic metal and wood furniture. Maybe even a funky horizontal tile “backsplash” between the counter and the cubbies…
  • Add in multiple sources of lighting for atmosphere (a combination of pot lights, pendant lights, track lights, and spotlights over artwork–and maybe a small crystal pendant over the piano–to replace our one sad, overworked halogen floor lamp).

Of course, once I get going on one reno idea, it inevitably leads to another. There’s no way I could redecorate the living room and not also redecorate the adjacent dining room…

  • A set of three low-hanging industrial pendants instead of our old-school chandelier would turn our dining room table into the large work table some Starbucks offer.
  • My china cabinet (currently housing crafts the kids don’t do and dishes I don’t use) could be replaced by wall-to-wall cubby bookshelves (matching those over the counter-style desk in the living room), giving it the “library” feel I’ve always envied.
  • And, finally, I’ve always wanted a coffee bar in the kitchen (a full-on set-up for my coffee pot, espresso machine, kettle, mugs, cups, and all hot beverage-related supplies). But maybe this could be incorporated into the dining room as well (there’s a side board in there that I only use to store placemats and napkins; surely that could be repurposed!)

So maybe it’s not exactly a Starbucks, but Starbucks is certainly the inspiration behind my vision: a relaxed, comfortable, piano lounge-y, coffee shopish kinda room that I’d actually enjoy working and hanging out in.

Do you have a unused or misused room in your house? What would your dream room be?

Just to clarify…

A friend recently posted a lengthy yes or no Q&A on Facebook called Bucket List–Canadian Version. Since I’m a list lover and questionnaire taker extraordinaire, I couldn’t resist filling it out. But the black and white yes/no format was a little too constricting, and I feel like some clarification on a few of the items may be in order…

  • Yes, I have technically been on a cruise. Several in fact. A dinner cruise on the St. Laurence Seaway in Quebec City. An evening family cruise on the Bahia Belle sternwheeler on Mission Bay, San Diego. Sightseeing cruises on the Rideau Canal here in Ottawa. But have I been on a CRUISE cruise? Like a Disney cruise? A Caribbean cruise? A Mediterranean cruise? A Viking river cruise? No, I have not. Do I casually leave huge glossy brochures about said cruises in strategic places around the house in the hopes that Luc will book one for my 50th birthday? Yes. Yes I do.
  • Yes, I can drive a stick shift. No, I do not enjoy it. Tying up my right hand on the gear shift when it could be put to better use bringing my latte to my mouth seems silly. And having three pedals instead of two–and using two feet instead of one–seems like a waste of parts and energy, and is way more complicated than it needs to be since the invention of something called AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION. I would rather stay home than drive Luc’s standard. But I will concede that having this skill under my belt has come in handy on more than one occasion over the years, so when the time comes, both of the kids will learn to drive on Luc’s car.
  • No, I have never played in a band, unless pots and pans and wooden spoons count. Those, combined with my piano and some pretty awesome air guitar were the basis for a band that my brother, some of our childhood friends and I pulled together from time to time. We also did some stellar lip syncing to the likes of Blondie, Journey and the Grease soundtrack. Who knows? If “Canada’s Got Talent” had been around in the 80s, our lives may have taken a completely different path…
  • Along the same lines (but not really), yes, I have sung karaoke. Twice. The first time I have absolutely no recollection of. I’m told it was with a group. I’ve been reassured that it wasn’t absolutely horrible. Considering the amount of alcohol it took to get me on stage, I have my doubts. The second time was captured on video at my step-sister’s 40th birthday party. Surprisingly (but not really), it was with those self-same childhood friends mentioned above. Less surprisingly, we performed a song from the Grease soundtrack, background singers, dance moves and all. No, I will not share it with you.
  • No, I have never been downhill skiing. Plummeting down a mountain with only two slim boards, a couple of sticks and my limited athletic abilities does not sound like fun or a good idea.
  • No, I have never jumped out of a plane, nor do I ever plan to. Unless, of course, we’re going down in flames over an ocean somewhere, I have my inflatable life jacket on and my seat cushion flotation device gripped in my hands, and the stewardess is yelling “Abort! Eject! Jump!” in which case I will do so willingly. Jumping out of a plane is not a sport. It’s survival.
  • No, I have never donated blood. How is that possible? I should really call Canadian Blood Services today. It’s in me to give.
  • Yes, I swear I have been on TV, but no, you can’t see me. There’s an a-ha music video that includes footage from one of their concerts, a wide camera sweep of the venue and audience. I’m convinced it was the concert I was at in Toronto and if I could just get the VCR to stop on exactly the right spot on the tape that I taped off of MuchMusic when the video was released, you’d find me there in row 6. But it was dark. And blurry. So you’ll have to take my word for it.
  • No I do not have a tattoo. Not yet. My best friend brought up the idea the year we turned 40. Six years later I haven’t been able to decide on a design I love enough to have it permanently etched on my body. Maybe I’ll decide by the time we turn 50. Hey! Maybe I could get it done on the cruise that Luc’s taking me on!