Thursday, January 27, 2011

Le Quilt

The front

I don't want to blow my own horn, or ring my own bell, but I made a fucking quilt. BOO-YAH! Sorry for the language, but I am deep in a 6th month of pregnancy hormone nesting rush, and I think I CAN FLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! Ok, not really, I'm just stoked that I was able to follow a pattern like a person who can you know, read.

The back

I DID IT! For those of you who just tuned in, I followed the Kate Conklin Under The Sea quilt pattern. I couldn't have finished it without the help of dear dear Pickel of Swimming in Brine, lots of Googling, the Heather Bailey how to bind a quilt tutorial, (I hand sewed the binding to the back. it was very therapeutic and only took one night) and the love of my family. Hey Nipper Knapp "pins and needles, pins and needles>"

The tag, which you can't read very well in this picture, but it says: Created for The Sunny Seaside Winter Retreat of Wally and Kary Herrala January 2011 By Their Loving Daughter Marija. (awwww) I got the idea for the tags from Pickel as well. She is a quilting master!

What do you think? Kare it's going in the mail tomorrow.

Hand sewing the binding last night. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mama Geisha Wreath

My friend Deanna had a birthday 2 weeks ago. I was going to embroider her some cute retro tea towels, but I was in the midst of the quilt conundrum, and knew I wouldn't finish in time for our Friday night dinner at at Chinese restaurant downtown.

I went for a walk and wandered into this little shop in South Pasadena. They had these cute little wooden Japanese girls, each with their own "personality. They have a little secret compartment where you can write a message to give to a friend. Cute. I bought a few, and brought them home. I knew just what I'd make for Deanna. 

She's a make-up artist, and has all this great blond hair. This little doll reminded me of her. Her kitchen is sort of retro with black and white tile, red fiesta ware, and little red and white polka dot curtains that she sewed herself. So Ta-da! A wreath for her kitchen door. She has two boys under the age of 3, and a husband. So like I'm soon to be, she's outnumbered in her own house. I thought a little something girlie would be great. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On Wednesday night Nipper Knapp took the red-eye to NYC to see the Jayhawks in concert, see friends, and spend time with his sisters. It was my birthday surprise to him. He had mentioned that he the Jayhawks were getting back together and playing these two shows, and wouldn't it be fun to see them. Uhm, yes, if I wasn't 6 months pregnant, and basically agoraphobic, that would be GREAT! So I hatched this plan to secretly arrange for his sisters to go to NY, and go to the shows with him. I told him at Christmas. Yay! I love surprises. LOVE THEM. Plus, now everyone thinks I'm a really nice wife, instead of the acerbic shut-in that they were all starting to know...and love. 

I had BIG plans for this weekend. Jack would be in school Thursday and Friday, so minus Mommy nap time, I figured I was going to have a solid 10 hours to get stuff done, Plus an hour or two at night after he went to bed. I started making my to-do list. Here's what it looked like.

To-Do on Nipper Knapp's weekend away
Hang house numbers from Anthropologie that I got in September
Hang new dinosaur towel hanger hook thingy in Jack's room
Paint the outdoor grill and chimney
Clean out closets (mine, Jack's, coat) 
Plan and Order Elfa system to build real closet in our room, before the sale ends
Finish my dad and stepmother's quilt
Water plants, and plant annual seeds in all outdoor pots
Sew top stitch on Jack's nanny's curtains (long story)
Clean office (this is prolly a several day job, but I wanted to get started)
Go to Ikea for Hardware for new closet curtains
Mail care package to Nipper's uncle David who is in the Peace Corps in Tonga
Mail some movies to my mother who is in a buddhist monastery in San Diego


Take Jack to the beach, maybe see a movie, go to the park, meet up with a boy from Jack's class and his mom to play, see our neighbors before they leave in a week and a half. You know basically have an awesome weekend with my boy, plus get all kinds of stuff done, so I could quiet the nesting monster. 

Here is what I did while Nipper was away:

By the time he was getting ready to leave on Wednesday I was throwing up, and feverish, and achey. As he was walking out the door to go to the airport, I was running into the bathroom, saying "It's FINE, what are you going to do, hold my hair? GO!" He went. I barfed, went to bed, and hoped for the best. Thursday morning, I got up, made breakfast, took Jack to school, came home and went to bed for 2 hours. I got up, moved to the couch, and stayed there until it was time to pick Jack up from school. Lather, rinse, repeat. Except by Friday I was getting a head cold on top of the stomach bug. DELIGHTFUL. 

our nightly routine

Saturday morning, I convince Jack it would be fun to stay in bed and watch Scooby Doo and Super Hero Squad on my computer until 11, when his BLESSED nanny and her daughter came to take him to the park, and for ice cream, and a train ride, and where ever it is they go when they go out. I laid in bed ALL day. I was convinced death was imminent. 

Jack and I were bed every night by 8, and both of us were asleep by 9. Sometimes I really pushed it and stayed up until 9:30 checking facebook, and responding to emails. Party down...

I took Jack for a dinosaur donut at Bob's donuts this morning, which almost killed me. I think he liked it. 

So much for my big plans. I was finally able to stomach some food today. Yogurt. Racy. And Jack went to play at the neighbors for a couple hours while I napped. Then we picked up daddy, and all is right and well again. I imagine tomorrow, I'll be feeling at least 60% better and ready to tackle at least part of my list. Maybe the part I can do from the couch in my office. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Now what?

I've decided I need a whole cupboard full of these. Sorry Nipper Knapp.

I don't want to say that my life is now complete. But I'm pretty sure my living room is... Never mind that I've just started a closet overhaul (we don't actually have a closet in our room, just armoires...), haven't finished Kary's quilt, need to clean my office, because 1 year later, I STILL haven't posted pictures, and oh yeah, I'm cooking a baby. 

Now that I look at it, that thing holding the dvd player and playstation could use and update. (again, sorry Nipper Knapp)

BUT, my rug problems are finally solved! I have been lamenting the fact that I waited too long to buy my dream rug at Anthropologie and it sold out. My stepmother gave me a gift card for my birthday last year, and for Christmas, and my mother gave me one for Christmas too. I was planning on saving them up, making myself take a couple of headshot jobs in my lazy state of pregnancy couchdom, and then voila, free rug! But like I said, it sold out. I found it from another supplier in Georgia, but it was $600 more. And I didn't have any gift cards for that store, so basically it was completely unaffordable. 

How perfect is it with my Amy Butler upholstered chairs!

SO today, it's 82 degrees, and sunny, and all the windows are open, and I'm pacing around the house like a crazy person because it's so nice outside I don't know what to do with myself, and Nipper basically tells me to get out, not because I'm making him crazy, I'm sure. Just wanted me to enjoy the day. Right. I tell him I'm heading for The Container Store where I'm going to plan our our Elfa system for the closet I'm fixing to make in our room. But I've got these gift cards burning a hole in my pocket, so I think, I'll just stop at Anthropologie quickly and pick up four of those pretty green latte bowls. They're only $5 a piece, and I mean, I'm too pregneto to buy dresses, what else am I going to do with the gift cards now? 

And with the crewel pillows I got out of the sale room last year!

I wander in, pick out my bowls and head back to the sale room (force of habit). Just as I round the corner, I get a text from our nanny "Jack has a little fever, can you come pick him up?" They were at a local playground. But I just saw him an hour ago and he was FINE! At the exact same moment, I see them. A pile of GIANT rugs on the floor of the sale room. Sophie's Choice... Ok, I can do this. I haul the first one out of the pile and spread it across the tiny sale room floor. I'm already sweating. I text the nanny that I'll be right there. I haul another one out and spread it on top of the other one. Neither of them are the one I was looking for, but one of them is one that I had said I would settle for. It's called the Festival Rug. The other one actually has more of our colors in it, but the background is forest green, and I decide I can't live with it. Plus, I kind of like everything to look like crazytown. I fold them both back up as neatly as possible, never mind they weigh 10 tons a piece, and haul the first one, my four latte bowls, wallet, phone, and keys, up to the register. 

I heart my new rug!

Did I mention it was HALF OFF! OMFG! Basically what that means is that it's free. I have enough in gift cards to pay for it, and the latte bowls. I just paid the tax. SO now, I'm paying, and the girl is fiddle faddling around with it, trying to fold it up neatly and wants to put it in a bag, and feel like shouting "FEVER, FEVER, MY CHILD HAS A FEVER!!!" But then that wouldn't be fair, since I'm the jerk who chose a sale rug over my sick child. it reminded me of that scene in "Love Actually" where Mr. Bean is wrapping and wrapping the necklace for Alan Rickman's girlfriend, and he's afraid his wife will come along and find him. Except this girl wasn't Mr. Bean, she was more like Edie Brickell or Janis Joplin, but fastidious. 

I'm dragging my crewel work elephant out of the store and the alarms go off, and the very nice girl at the front, very nicely directs me back to the cash wrap, where neatnik Janis Brickell, who just folded my rug for 3 hours, says, "hum, I wonder if there's a hard tag on that?" Did I murder her? No. I told her, I'd be happy to bring it back if I found one, but I was pretty sure I didn't see one when we were folding it, and I had to run. That didn't seem suspicious I'm sure. RUN! Did I ever tell you guys the story of the Easter Sunday stolen lobsters? Remind me sometime.

I dragged the titanic back to the front door and out to my car. I drove at break neck speeds to the playground, where the nanny then texted me that Jack had fallen asleep. You mean I could have shopped more?!?!?!  Just kidding. A little. I was only 15 minutes later than I would have been...tops...don't judge. He's fine by the way. One hour of laying in bed watching scooby doo, snuggling with mommy, and he's a-okay. Not really, he does have a fever, but not too bad. Sue me. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

this foot was made for walking

Stage make-up is stupid. 

You all know by now that I don't have a clue. It's like I have life ADD. I routinely undertake projects that are way over my head. Get pregnant and have a kid? Sure. Shoot a tv pilot with a new camera? No problem! R2D2 cake? I'm your girl. 

One time in college, I needed 3 credits to keep on schedule for graduation. I was doing the play Iphigenia at Aulis at the school theater. I told the Director that I had EXTENSIVE make-up experience, and had done make-up when I performed The Nutcracker with the Pittsburgh Ballet. Never mind I was 11 years old, tops, and I'm pretty sure all I was allowed to wear was some blush from the grocery store that came with it's own brush. "Maybe she's born with it!". 

I "researched" period make-up, bought stage make-up from Ben Nye, which if you've never used, is something straight from HELL, and showed all the actors what their faces should looks like. Spoiler alert: Agamemnon sacrifices their daughter Iphegenia so that the soldiers can go kill people, Clytemnestra her mother loses her shit. Everyone looked SUPER Greek. Actually I'm pretty sure everyone looked like they had 10lbs of Ben Nye grease paint in a vague Cleopatra theme. The theater was about as big as my living room, so I'm sure the effect was profound. I got my 3 credits. So I didn't go to Harvard (shut-up Nipper Knapp)

THIS is a walking foot and it's SCARY!

So I'm following this pattern to make the sea view quilt, and I get to the quilting part, and realize I don't have a "walking foot", whatever that is. I call around a few sewing places here in town. No one has one. Finally some ancient lady at International Silks and Woolens tells me, I have to go to the Pasadena Sewing and Vacuum Center. They have everything. She's right. They have the foot I need. 

However, the guy who showed me how to put it on my machine was from Norfolk Virginia, the fact that I was in the store 7 minutes, and know that, should tell you everything you need to know. His demonstration, was folksy and brief. There was something about unscrewing my chassis, or nut, or something, and latching the prong. I've had it for 2 days, and haven't had the courage to try to put it on the machine yet. When I asked if they had one that just clips on, like the other feet I have, he just laughed at me, like I had asked for a 3 legged table. "Well there's no such thing little lady!" Ok, so he didn't say "little lady" but it was implied. 

80 degree January beach day. I HEART LA!

Today, rather than clean my office, attach that foot, quilt my quilt, answer emails, or do anything productive at all, Jack and I went to the beach. I got lots of wet sandy hugs, and I love you momma's in between fighting the waves, shouting at my baby belly like a drill sargeant "YOU COME OUT HERE RIGHT NOW BABY BROTHER AND PLAY WITH ME!", and snacks where Jack kept saying "good friends" and then insisting I say "good food" in a scooby doo voice. Perfect underachiever Sunday. 

Friday, January 14, 2011


So, I'm 5.5 months pregnant and the nesting urge is redonk-a-diddle. I would like to apologize in advance for any kind of cutesy or irritating language contained in this blog. I'm not responsible. It's the hormones! 

I want to re-do the nursery. When I asked Nipper Knapp if he thought we should repaint the baby's room, he said "I don't know, do YOU think YOU should repaint it?" Ok, I get it. Since baby #2 will also be a boy, he's going to be the hand me down kid, so, at least I can start him off with a fresh room, right? Whatever. I NEED to feather my nest. 

I've always loved this Marimekko Pikku Bo Boo print. When I was a kid my friend Jessica's little brother had this wallpaper in his room, and even then I knew it was cool. I was thinking of painting one wall navy, and the rest of it white, and then doing a wall with this wallpaper. BUT we have texture on our walls (blurgh, thanks tacky flipper), and wallpaper is a nightmare. SO I had a brainstorm. I'm crafty right? (shudder)

I am going to repaint the room white, maybe one navy wall, and then on the big wall (I use this term loosely, the nursery is smaller than most people's bathrooms) I'll make stencils from the pikku bo boo fabric, and PAINT it on the wall. OMG HOW CUTE AM I?! (sorry) That's shouldn't be too hard, right? 

I have a little of the bo boo fabric leftover from the vintage sheet set I bought on ebay for $15, but it's not in the best condition. I used part of it to make Jack's school nap blanket. I looked for more today and the prices are astronomical. $245 for barely 2 yards. EEK! Someone is selling another sheet set for $65, but the material isn't all that nice and snuggly. I think I'll use what I've got left to make some accent pillows and maybe a stroller blanket with a minky back. 

I also think we've narrowed it down to two different names, but I've been sworn to secrecy. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Old Music Thursday - 4


That's Francais for "listen"

That's pretty much all I've been listening to. I haven't been able to find new music in any of my old music this week, so I've listening to someone else's playlist. is a French (Paris?) Jazz station that a very clever friend turned me on to a few years ago. They remind me of a station out of Finland I used to listen to called Radio Pelli, that is sadly no more. They plays the best mix of jazz standards, with an occasional random old pop song thrown in (by old, I mean from the 50's). They do have a tendency to play a few really drippy modern jazz songs every once in a while, and for some reason they play this AWFUL song "The Ice Hotel", that will make you want to kill yourself, and I mean they play it at least once a day. But those quirks aside, I can usually turn it on (stream through itunes or quicktime or windows player) and leave it on all day. 

They also have great interviews with some amazing old timers, and sometimes if those guys are American they do the interviews in English and French, simultaneously translating for the guest. Which is nice if you don't speak French. 

So check it out. Go to and click the button that says "Ecouter" on the left hand side. You won't be sorry. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shaboom and Keri take Paris

Shaboom of French Skinny, and Keri of My Year Started Tuesday Night are in Paris together RIGHT NOW. The blogosphere is all atwitter (sorry, that pun for my beloved father-in-law, who is very punny). Keri had to take a business trip to Brussels, and had one day off, and decided to take the fast train to Paris for the day, and Shaboom is showing her around. I love it when worlds collide! Except when those worlds send me mouth watering, taunting emails filled with photos of where I am not. Today we will go to Larchmont and eat Village Pizzeria. Some small consolation for NOT being in Paris, eating for two. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

knock-knocking knock-knock-offs

An original wreath by Knockknocking. SO cute!

You all know what a big fan I am of the incredible wreaths that Agnes over at Knock Knocking makes. She is, as far as I'm concerned, a genius. I don't know where she get's her incredibly unique trinkets that she adds to her wreaths, but that along with her special way of making felt flowers (and pinwheels, and garland) make them completely covetable. 

I look at her shop all the time for inspiration. Just looking at her color palettes, can get my brain moving when I'm working on an embroidery or sewing project. This year I decided I was going to hand make all of my Christmas gifts. Well, not all, if I knew how to make an Optimus Prime Transformer, or a 3ft tall At-At that really pulls the storm troopers up, I would have...

I thought making wreaths for everyone would be a fun project that I could really personalize. Now I am obsessed, and embarrassed to say I have 4 (ok, 6) blank wreaths ready to be decorated whenever the whim strikes me next. Unexpected girlfriend birthday? No problem, I'll make a wreath! Someone had a baby? Wreath! Neighbors moving away and breaking all of our hearts? Wreath, wreath, wreath! 

So here is what I cooked up. 

For my dad and stepmom for their camper. They spend the January to April in the Florida Keys, and they are big mid century modern fans. I wish I'd taken a close-up of the vintage truck and trailer. I ordered them separately off ebay. The inside of the pink camper is teal green! So cute!

For my brother and his wife. She is from India, and while their house is done in pretty subdued colors, she always looks so pretty when she wears these bright jewel tones that no one else can get away with. The pink elephant has a little bobble head that is very silly. Oh, and I finally found a use for those adorable felt balls!

For my mom. She names all of her houses. Last year I made a wreath for their ranch house, which they call Point of View Ranch. My stepfather had just planted a little grape vineyard, so I ordered two glass red wine bottle ornaments for it. I can't find the pictures. My mom's house is called Paris, so I thought this would be fitting for her front door. These are also the colors of her kitchen. 

For our house I made this little owl wreath. It was my first attempt at making the felt flowers, and I had this pink peacock ribbon left over from I don't know what project. The ornament I got at Urban Outfitters last year. It's fun to dig through your stuff and re-use it for a project like this. 

Oh, did I mention the tea towels I made for everyone. No? Ok, tomorrow. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Circus people...with dental.

One last sink bath last summer before they were both too big

Jack didn't want to get out of bed this morning. Me neither. For him though, this is unusual. We're more accustomed to him leaping from the bed at 6:45am demanding cocoa and cartoons. What gives? Hmmm. Let me think. 

Several months ago Jack's best friend Cleo's mom informed us that they might be moving away to San Francisco for the year. I was devastated. But also in denial. I didn't really think it would happen. They are in a band, and while some of their gigs are here in LA, and elsewhere in the world, many of them are in Northern California. So they've been flying EVERY weekend, leaving the girls with their nanny, once or twice with us, or sometimes taking them with them, and having their SF nanny watch them while they're at gigs. For anyone who has kids under the age of 5 (and isn't Brangelina) you know this was unsustainable. They missed the girls, the girls missed them, and the traveling was getting exhausting (and expensive). So they had to go. 

She and Him in the making

For months, I've been butting my nose in business that is not my own, except to spare my son the agony of losing his best friend, and me losing our little neighborhood fun. We have casual dinners and borrow eggs and sugar, and live, you know, like people do. This is something I never thought I'd find here in LA, given our strange occupations. We have another neighbor couple, who are in the business, she is a make-up artist and he is a grip (if you don't know what that is HERE). He once said " our jobs? We're like Circus people, but with dental insurance". It's true. 

Jobs are fleeting. They come, they go. For some of us they are several weeks, or months, or years, but mainly they are a few days, or even a few hours. During which you form quick, but not necessarily meaningful bonds with the people with whom you work. A lot of times it is physically and mentally exhausting. But mostly, it's temporary. There is a lot of time spent, just sitting around, waiting.

"yes Cleo, keep reading, I'm TOTALLY listening"

For Nipper Knapp and I this has been a blessing as parents. We've had the chance to spend most days with Jack, and really be with him these first 3 years. Until he was 18 months, he didn't even have a babysitter, he went with us to our auditions, and we were able to juggle watching him when one of us worked. It's hard to explain to him that this arrangement is unusual because it's all he's ever known. But Cleo is a constant. Home or at school, she has always been around. They were born 2 weeks apart.

One last car nap

one last trip to the zoo

one last dig in the sandbox

Lately more and more, we hear his repeated mantra "But I just want to be with you guys". I totally get it. He doesn't want to leave the circus and go to work. This moring, I spent a good ten minutes trying to decide if 3 1/2 is too young to start having "mental healthy days". I mean the kid goes to "school" (I use this term loosely because mostly it's snack time, craft time, run around on the playground time over there) 3 days a week, and spends the other 4 blasting me with "guns" that shoot gummy bears, roughhousing with his dad, and generally running wild. How much mental health recuperation could he possibly need?

Today Cleo and her family left for San Francisco, but just for the weekend. They'll be back on Monday, and won't leave for good until February 1st. So Jack didn't want to get out of bed, or go to school, and I don't blame him. When we got finally got there he said "I think Cleo is going to be here any minute." Thinking about what to tell him to make it all ok, all I could think was "kiddo, you've got to do this for another 15 years so let's make the best of it." NOT exactly inspiring words. I just hugged him, kissed him, and told him he should try to play with some other friends at school. All the while thinking about how much I hated it when teachers made us get into groups and work on something when I was in school. Nerdmom is a lone reed...

one last "it's ok Jack, I've got you"

Any words of wisdom on how to help a 3 1/2 year old deal with the loss of his best friend, shyness, making new friends, leaving the circus, or how to get my carny brain to conform so I can make the dreaded playdate with other moms and their kids, would be appreciated.