How many ways can you re-function a non-functional fireplace?

By on Sep 12th

non-functional fireplaces are a great place to show off art

After reading the post "my dog sleeps in the fireplace," I realized that there are probably TONS of different uses for non-functional fireplaces.

Coincidentally, I am moving in a month into an apartment that has four (yes, FOUR) non-functioning fireplaces. There's one in the living room, one in each of two bedrooms, and one in the kitchen.

I would LOVE to hear suggestions on what to do/how to decorate our non-functional fireplaces! -Kelly

The photo up above is my friend Drew's non-functional fireplace. He told me that he didn't want to use candles in the hearth, so I grabbed a bright painting (because it's dark in there) and set it inside. He was pleased, and so was I, because I think fireplaces are a great place to display art! (Also, bonus points for the fact that Drew was watching Saved by the Bell when I asked him to send me a pic.)

Here are some other ideas from Offbeat Homies past…

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There is a certain joy in ritual

Guestpost by Cass on Sep 11th

Refreshing rituals. (Photo by: Lali MasrieraCC BY 2.0)

There's a certain joy in ritual. For me, a ritual is a repeated task or set of actions performed because of their importance, with reverence and regularity.

I grew up in a home affected by Asperger's. With that came a certain sensitivity to large changes and spontaneity, and we ran our lives according to the clock, with most days fully planned out. Mostly it was my parents who planned our day-to-day. When plans fell through, or plans were failed to be made, the day felt unsettled and we itched for our routine to click back in to place. Planning and daily ritual brought certainty and ease to our home life.

Now that I am an adult living on my own, I have found myself settled in to my own daily rituals. My adult home is not obviously shrouded by the needs of Asperger's. I am rediscovering the comfort, peace, and calm of daily ritual. I find my ritual most important during my most emotionally sensitive parts of the day — right when I wake up and start my day, and as I wind down to end the day to get ready to refresh and renew myself.

My mornings are a series of actions set up to emphasize my daily priorities: mainly good nutrition, getting myself to work, and caffeine. My evenings are meant to help me wind down and get me to sleep.

At a broader level, I am discovering a self-need for social ritual. Although I must cope with my own diagnosed severe social anxiety, on some level, I have always found social ritual very powerful.

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Newlyweds with a roommate: what should we be mindful of?

By on Sep 11th

Can three people that include one couple live together harmoniously? (Photo is not by the author, by: Robert JudgeCC BY 2.0)

My husband and I got married not too long ago (with great help from Offbeat Bride, might I add). We were in a long-distance relationship before the wedding, and that's not showing signs of ending any time soon. We visit each other every weekend.

It so happens that one of our long-time friends, also from our home town, found a part-time job in the city I work in, and we've decided to share a flat. My future roommate is an experienced flat-sharer while I am not. I am constantly thinking we need to regulate things and make them rock solid. I am hoping so much for us both to gain from this, and consistently worry I might be overdoing it and stepping on her toes…

Offbeat Homies, my questions are many:

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The 8 awesome advantages of having a tandem bike

Guestpost by Pemcat on Sep 10th

My husband is the kind of person who, when faced with an escalator and a set of steps that both stretch as far as the eye can see, will ALWAYS choose to run up the stairs. I have been known to get out of breath walking up the few flights of steps to our flat.

We both love spending time outside in the countryside, and going for walks is one of our favourite pastimes. I wanted to get more active with him, but when it came to finding ways of spending time together that satisfied my husband's love of endorphins, we were a little bit stymied. Either I just couldn't keep up, or it wasn't really exercise for him.

A few years ago we found the solution — a tandem bike that we've name Daisy. She is a beautiful green second-hand (or possibly third-hand) Dawes Galaxy Twin touring tandem.

There are so many ways that she is amazing…

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If you can't stand the heat, make these no-bake low-sugar mini cheesecakes

By on Sep 10th

no-bake low-sugar mini cheesecakes

I, like our own Megan, don't have mad cooking skills. Plus, I have a bunch of annoying dietary restrictions, making it even more challenging when I want to whip up something non-frozen and doubleplusgood for me. So this no-bake, low-sugar anytime treat is actually a pretty bad-ass solution for those two problems: easy, super nom-worthy, and fits my needs. Maybe it fits yours, too?

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The risks and rewards of playing competitive softball while pregnant

Guestpost by Kate on Sep 9th

I know that, as a pregnant person, one of the toughest psychological challenges is avoiding getting down on yourself. For some women it's about their weight or "evolving" shape. For other women, it's dealing with the way everything seems to "slip" (self-maintenance, home maintenance, marital maintenance). For me? The toughest part so far has been trying to balance my uber-competitive athleticism with the natural (and social?) limits that pregnancy places around your physical capabilities.

I'm actually so frustrated by this I could cry. And I did cry. But I could totally cry again. It's wall-punchingly tough. And my partner, while my teammate and an impressive ballplayer, just can't relate. Though he does support me and all of the decisions I've made.

What exactly is the big deal, you might ask? Well, for starters I want to keep being ME, even though I'm pregnant. And when I play softball, I'm one of the most aggressive athletes you can imagine. I taunt pitchers. I dip my shoulder and target wayward catchers. Yesterday I had a hot streak and I heard one of the infielders nervously ask another "where's he hit it to?" The shortstop admitted "he can hit it anywhere — be ready." Then he giggled and yelled, "Hey batter! Where you gunna hit it this time?" I smiled and yelled back arrogantly, "WHEREVER YOU AREN'T." I then proceeded to hit it to a beautiful gap in left center, with nary a defender to be found. Was that the end of the exchange? [sigh] The nervous pregnant lady in me wishes. Instead, as I went around the bases, I was all about the chatter. Asking base person after base person if "they'd missed me" since the last time I'd gotten on.

Am I an asshole on the field? Yeah, probably. But this is my alter-ego. This is the fantasy I live out on the diamond and have continued to for nearly 25 years now. If I had to pick a religion, it'd be sports. And if I had to pick a method of worship? It'd be aggressive softball playing. It fills my spiritual cup in a very serious way. It's no accident I met the love of my life on the softball field. And it's no accident that I'm still playing in my second trimester, side by side with that same man. If my heart were a puppy, this would be her dog park. It runs wild and free here. Untethered and ecstatic.

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The offbeat remodel: my harebrained scheme come to life

By on Sep 8th

remodel-before-after

Does anyone remember this part of my 2011 home tour?

I have a scheme for how we can turn the space into a modest two-bedroom, and rip out the wall of the stairwell to create an epic family room/mezzanine space at the top of the stairs. That stairwell is so grand and filled with afternoon sun… but it's a fucking stairwell. If we opened it up to a mezzanine, we'd really feel that square footage more. Plus, Tavi would have a bedroom.

Well, you guys… it's totally happening. Why is it happening? Because almost exactly a year ago, I crashed the wedding of a pair of architects, and then last fall I hired them to see if my dreams could actually be a reality. Turns out that my scheme was totally feasible. Turns out that Liz & Mark are great architects. Turns out that, despite the fact that my husband and I are both self-employed, we can refinance our mortgage to cover the cost of the remodel. Turns out we found a great Seattle contractor. Turns out we can stay in a yurt at my mom's during the 6-8 weeks of demolition and construction. Turns out it's maybe happening next month!? HOLY SHIT.

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