Of Toilets, Towels and Toaster Strudel …inspiration can come in some unlikely places!

by Debra Chappell

View from: my living room sofa – where I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time of late.

So…. I have been laid up for over a week with an angry sciatic nerve screaming at me louder than a politician’s denial of inappropriate groping. (Geez…did these guys miss that fundamental Kindergarten lesson – “keep your hands to yourself.”??) The culprit for my screaming back I’m sure is the toilet I heaved singlehandedly out of the bathroom of my newest project house because I was too impatient to wait for my big burly crew to arrive.

After several injections, the medical advice was ‘take it easy’ (a term heretofore foreign to me) so I have been at the mercy of CNN, MSNBC, PBS, with a little Food Network and HGTV thrown in for relief. (And no, I’ve never made FOX’s friends list.) Good god, the news is enough to make a person crazy. Between accusations of whose rubbing shoulders with the Russians, who’s rubbing other parts against pre-pubescent
teens, or who’s just a randy bastard with no towel big enough to shield his over engorged but less than impressive….ego — our national politics has descended into a circus-like nightly reality show with most of us wondering how the hell we can get ourselves voted off this crazy island!! Mind you, I think the present conversation is long over due. And I could write pages and pages about it, and may still….just not today.

Today, I had a different idea. While stuck on the sofa bored out of my mind , I finally got fed up with it all, turned off the TV and opened my laptop. EUREKA! It popped into my head like a toaster strudel…. that others may be as fed up as me and looking for a more healthy diversion from the daily noise we now refer to as nightly news. “What a perfect time to re-launch the blog!!!”, I thought – which I’ve been meaning to do for ages anyway! (Okay, the healthy part might be a stretch depending on the amount of wine consumed while reading it, but it is sure as heck better than the teeth grinding provoked by most recent news stories.) It’s time to catch up with each other, share some stories and focus on the positive, productive, and creative things we are doing and enjoying in life.

So I’ve revamped the pages here a bit and have started yet another renovation project to
share with you. Since I last popped in on you, I’ve renovated and sold two more houses, wandered off to Italy and most recently Martha’s Vineyard for a return engagement of the Cougar Tour, have become a grandmother twice over with another on the way, and generally indulged my favorite addictions; a daily café au lait habit I picked up at the local coffee bar and more antique crockery that I don’t need, have no room for,  but can’t seem to resist, along with a slightly more expensive but oh-so-delicious obsession with cute little cottages with more potential than I know what to do with…wait , that’s the problem…I think I DO know what to do with and can’t leave alone till it’s done!!! (the latest of which I will tell you about shortly. )

And everyone keeps asking me about my book (well, at least 2 of you…) Yes, it’s still safely here in my laptop, suffice it to say that Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, and Julia Roberts are still awaiting that much anticipated casting call. You can read about its progress by clicking on the “About Debra Chappell” link at the top of this page (above the coffee cup).

So without further adieu, let me introduce you to the latest cutie to capture my fancy: I call it La Casita Chappellita!


No, it’ not my normal early century brick bungalow with country French leanings, but it called to me none the less – in a saucy, sassy Latina accent! It was built in the 30’s and I love the plaster/stucco walls and Mexican tile on the front steps. The arches invoke a Spanish flair and fond memories of my young days poolside in Southern California munching tortilla chips and guacamole, and where my aunts and uncles lived in similar style and period homes. (Think old Pasadena here; stiff martinis and Frank Sinatra on the Hi-Fi.)

It’s as cute as a bug inside and actually didn’t need a lot of work if I wanted to leave it as it is, but where’s the fun in that? So I thought I would bring it back to its roots and
former Marilyn Monroe splendor with some terracotta tile on the kitchen floor and hand-painted Mexican tiles on the backsplash that I picked up a few years ago at the Long Beach flea market, not knowing what the heck I would do with them at the time- Ole!

Before embarking on the kitchen however, where most of the fun will take place, I decided something needed to done about the bathroom floor. The previous owner had paired a more historical theme with a dark, contemporary black slate on the floor. Egads!…. so my first task was to rip out the floor tile to prepare to re-tile the entire bathroom.

Enter the culprit for my bellyaching lower back.

Who knew that a toilet would be the transformational inspiration to get me back to my other passion – writing. (And kind of ironic that it’s newly installed ‘whisper close’ seat would lead to me finding my own voice still strong and eager again!)

Now if I could just get my sciatic nerve to pipe down long enough to hear it….


Hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving and let’s meet up again after the holiday!



**Author’s Note: Subscription to fromthekitchencounter.com is free. Just follow the link at the bottom of the page and my new blog posts will automatically drop in your email as soon as I post them. Feel free to pass along link to friends and family, I’m trying to increase my readership. Thanks so much for stopping in – and l will pop in again soon!