on the 6th day of chookooloonks ... a good book & a cuppa

In June of 2002, I was living in London, engaged to Marcus, when my employer decided it was time for me to return to Houston.  It was unexpected and sort of a shock:  we were about 8 weeks away from our wedding, and while we hadn't yet determined where we were going to live (Marcus was living in Dublin at the time), we hadn't even considered that we would be moving to the United States.  But we made quick arrangements, and before we knew it, we were scheduling the movers to come to both London and Dublin to transfer our stuff.

One day, the weekend before the movers were supposed to arrive at my flat, Marcus and I were walking on the King's Road in London, which was a block away from where I lived.  There was a tiny boutique there that sold really unusual furniture, and Marcus was immediately drawn to the ridiculously oversized wingback chair you see above.

"Karen, I have to have this," he said, sinking into the seat.  You see, Marcus is 6'5" tall -- and it's a rare chair that can comfortably accommodate his frame.  "This chair was made for me."

I looked at the price tag. "No way," I said.  (Incidentally, this has been the general refrain for most of our marriage:  he sees something I think is unreasonably expensive and exclaims "WANT!" and I respond back "NO WAY, CRAZY." Between his tendency to extravagance and my obsessive frugality we probably end up about where we should.  But it's a battle every time.) "Marcus, we have to buy a house in a few weeks.  And then, we don't even know what furniture we're going to need.  Buying something just because you think it's cool doesn't make sense right now."

"You're right," he said reluctantly.  "Man, it's too bad, though. I love it."

We walked away and continued our day.  But I kept thinking about the chair, and finally reason got the better of me:  we did, after all, need to buy furniture.  And he did love it.

So when the movers came to pack up my stuff, I made them circle over to the little boutique, and I bought the chair without telling Marcus.  He didn't know what I had done until months later, when my shipment arrived in Houston, and the chair was unloaded into our house.

I'm so glad I bought this chair -- because, my friends, this is definitely Marcus' chair.  Whenever he has a quiet moment, he takes a cup of tea and reads in this chair.  He does art in his journal in this chair (Marcus is an incredible artist).  He naps in this chair.  In fact, no one else really uses this chair but him.  It's come to be completely associated with him.

A friend's 5-year-old daughter called it the "Fe Fi Fo Fum" chair.  It so is.  But it belongs to a gentle giant, so it's all good.

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So here we are on the 6th day of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks giveaways!  Today, I'm sharing things that would be perfect for you to take to a quiet corner of your home, along with a really good cup of tea.


Image courtesy GWB Designs

So, if you've been reading Chookooloonks for any length of time, you know I'm a tea drinker.  I love me a good tea, and drink it all day long, in one of my 2 or 3 favourite mugs.  But you know what's annoying about drinking tea out of a mug?  The issue of what to do with the spent teabag.   It seems ridiculous to dirty a saucer for something as small and insignificant as a teabag, but then carrying it dripping to the garbage can has its own issues.

As you can see, sometimes I concern myself with not-particularly-profound things.

Anyway, I was so happy when Gloria and her daughter Tameshia contacted me about participating in this giveaway, because look what Gloria makes:  ceramic teabag holders!  Actually, she makes a lot of things (available at her etsy store, GWB Designs), but the teabag holders, sized perfectly to hold the bowl of a teaspoon or a teabag, completely charmed me.  And so, she is offering a set of three ceramic teabag holders in navy blue (or green, your choice) for you to place your spent teabags (or, if you're not a tea drinker, your spare change, your rings, or whatever).  Adorable yes?

Here's more about Gloria: 

Artist's statement:  Though I have been a potter for 20+ years I have never defined myself as an artist until recently.  I am an artist and combine jewelry making, masks and pottery to create my own style of art. I enjoy clean, organic pieces with unusual combinations. I love the creative process and the ability to create one-of-a-kind items. It brings me joy beyond what can be put into words and consistently draws me to create, to grow and to evolve as well as to assist others in finding their creative spirit.


Image courtesy London vs. Paris

I make no secret of my love for London, and Paris is one of my favourite cities in the world -- so it's not that shocking that the photoblog London vs. Paris is one of my favourite spots on the internet.  The brainchild of London photographer Xanthe Berkeley and Paris photographer Irène Nam, the blog is sort of photographic scavenger hunt, presented as diptychs:  London on the left, Paris on the right.  It is pure, dreams-of-travel-to-romantic-places heaven.

Xanthe contacted me when I put out my call for photographers, and telling me they'd love to contribute their lovely postcard set, featuring some of their favourite diptychs.  Since they look like exactly the perfect medium to write an unexpected note to send to a friend you haven't spoken to in a while, I was thrilled to accept.

Here's more about the beautiful London vs. Paris:

Artists' statementLondon vs Paris is blog between two photographers, Xanthe living in London and Irene living in Paris. They go on a photographic treasure hunt to capture the ordinary things found in their cities, and compare the similarities and differences. They have never meet each other in person but have been pleasantly surprised by the serendipity of some of the diptychs, that seem so similar in terms of composition, colour or content, that they almost look planned. They are not planned and this is the beauty of this project....  Their first product from London vs Paris shop is a set of postcards, with plans for more things is 2012.


Also, because cozy nooks required something to read, you'll receive a signed copy of The Beauty of Different, inscribed to whoever you'd like.


And finally, you'll receive a 2012 Chookooloonks desk calendar (comes packaged in a fold-out CD case), featuring 13 of my favourite images from 2011.


For a chance to win these prices, simply leave a comment below, saying whatever you'd like, before 12:00 a.m., Sunday, December 18th, US Central TimePlease leave only one comment.  Also, it doesn't matter where in the world you are.  I'll choose a winner at random using Random.org, and update this post when that person is chosen.

(For the duration of the 12 Days of Chookooloonks, please note that there is no guarantee that you will receive any items before Christmas.) 

Good luck, friends!

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AND THE WINNER IS:  According to Random.org, the winner is Agnes, who said "What a beautiful story about the chair!"  Congratulations, Agnes!  Please keep a lookout in your inbox for an email from me with instructions on what to do next.

Thanks for participating, everyone -- we're halfway through, and still lots more awesome to come!


SongPirraça, as performed by Vanessa da Mata