Monday, March 28, 2011

Here in Topeka

Purl Soho Color-wheel quilt

Can you sew your way to happiness? I dunno. Doubtful. I've gotten to the point in pregnancy where it's hard to get down on the floor and play trains with Jack. And the kind of WWF rough housing he does with Nipper Knapp is out. And he's at the age, where all he wants to do is play hard. So... I've been feeling kind of blue. 

I have tons of art supplies in my office, and thankfully he loves to draw. So as much as I can, I have him come out here with me to draw, and talk, and tell stories. Sometimes he'll let me curl up with him in the rocking chair in the baby's room and read books or tell him the story of The Wizard of Oz. Have I told you he makes me tell him the whole story EVERY day? More on that later. 

It doesn't help that the baby's bones are clearly made of adamantium razor blades, and not regular baby bones. I don't know why, but he's SO pokey. And while I remember Jack putting pressure on my bladder, I don't recall him trying to pierce it with a shiv. Maybe I have amnesia. Last night he had the hiccups for over an hour, and instead of it being cute, it was like someone was rhythmically trying to stab me simultaneously in the ribs and the pelvis. Good times. 

This cheers me up. Also I want that outfit. 

So I finished a quilt for a friend who is having a baby and I ordered a pattern for another one that involves some kind of applique that I don't really understand. In the meantime I thought I'd start on making the Purl Soho Color-Wheel quilt for myself. I couldn't fathom picking 52 colors, and I'm not really into having a rainbow anything around here. It took forever to pick the fabrics, I chose 13 shades of red, pink, and orange, but I can see it might go together easier than I thought. It looks scary complicated, but I think the hardest part will be the quilting, which requires you to "stitch in the ditch". As you know precision is not my thing. 

In the next few weeks, I need to have some good mommy and Jack time. Maybe go to the aquarium, or the beach together just the two of us. I can feel this time slipping away so fast. Right now it feels bittersweet. I'm excited to meet this little wolverine in my belly, but I'm already missing our little trio. I'm sure once #2 is here, I won't be able to imagine what it was like without him, just like I feel about Nipper and Jack. 

Right now, I'm relying on Loretta, ice cream, and lots and lots of sewing to get me through. The first one of you that tells me to go for a walk is getting anthrax in the mail. 

Here is the same song, but on The Muppet Show, and subtitled in German. So bizarre. Can you imagine, a musician singing about The Pill on a kids show today? Sarah Palin would explode!!!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


You know that moment in a movie when some sweet batty old lady is in a store talking to everyone, and knows their names and is making bad jokes too loudly, and saying "bless you honey", and everyone is smiling and laughing, except that one asshole who has a sour face, and maybe mutters something under their breath like "keep it moving grandma", and you just KNOW that person is going to eat it in some humorous way in a later scene, because they're the asshole. 

That's me. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Da da da dum! Pink Palace/man cave/office/sewing room/respite

The nook for the pullout couch

If I was a major corporation launching a new product, or a movie premier date, I'd be an utter failure. I "finished" my office make-over about a year ago. But it wasn't really finished, and now I realize it'll never be really finished. I tinker. I move stuff around. I get big ideas, and then look at the price, and spend months trying to figure out a cheaper way to do it. 

The "before" pictures of the garage and crawl space

I still haven't solved the problem of the hideous fluorescent lighting situation. I was going to have Roberto put in a skylight, but it was going to be like $600-700, which seemed dumb. There is a light I love at H.D. Buttercup, but it's $450, which seems cuckoo, because you know some guy pulled it out of a defunct machine shop in Poughkeepsie. There was another one that I saw at Anthropologie, but it was $900, and I thought I'd make it myself somehow, but then realized that those blown glass balls are a minimum of $20 a piece, and it looks like it has about 50 of them, so... Finally I saw this one on Design Sponge yesterday, and since I have a bunch of paper lanterns left over from our wedding, I could do it in a snap, and it would basically cost me nothing. We'll see. For now it's a little dark out here, but I like it. It's my pink mood lighting! 

 $900 Anthropologie light

$438 H.D. Buttercup light

So without further ado... This is where I sew, glue gun, hide out, nap, watch disaster movies, and write this blog. I'll start at the ugly beginning. The garage was where he piled all the stuff we didn't have room for in the house. It wasn't sealed, and had bugs, and the floor was always covered in leaves that had blown in. We paid Roberto to put concrete floors in the crawl space under the house, and make plywood walls to create a storage room under there. Now that's the sturdiest part of the house in case of earthquakes. 

With all the stuff out of the garage, we still had to seal up the garage door, and drywall (Thank you Nipper and BG), paint the floors, paint the walls  add some electrical outlets, and move the office furniture down from what is now Jack's room. Moving the pull-out couch is yet another story in our family's history that proves that our handyman is much, much, smarter than we are. 

 I'd love to move the water heater outside, and put a little water closet in this corner, but you know, I'll probably just end up making a macrame decoupaged chamber pot instead

I wanted to have Roberto make the floors that pretty polished concrete like we had in the loft, but he didn't fill me with confidence that he had any idea what I was talking about, just nodding, and saying sure, and something about paint, and I figured I'd just end up putting rugs down anyway, so I painted it white. It's sort of a disaster and shows every speck of dust and dirt. But I did cover it with rugs, 3 of them, because it's COLD! Except for when it's hot, and then it's like an oven. We put a window air conditioner in, because it's also our guest room (the couch folds out), and I am not a monster. 

I painted it two different shades of pink, and left the trim white. Brenda (Jack's nanny) had the brilliant idea of painting the couch nook a darker pink. She should seriously have her own design on a dime show, en espanol... 

So what else? I put the two pottery barn desks back to back to give myself a large workspace for measuring fabric, and letting Jack's fingerpaints dry, while I'm clickety clacking on the computer (exactly what we're doing on this rainy Sunday). 

I had this big wooden board with a frame that we got when our friend Kelly moved out of her apartment. It was in her garage, and she didn't know what it was for, and told me to take it. I didn't know what I'd use it for, but 3 years later, I decided to make it a magnetic board for hanging things in the office. I used that magnetic paint, and covered it with some fabric I got at the Rosebowl Flea Market years and years ago. 

The curtains that hide the washing machine, and the water heater are panels from The Silk Trading company. A few years ago the couple who own it went through a nasty divorce. I wandered in there looking for scraps, and there was a table in the back piled high with single panels for $10 a piece. Some of them still had tags on them. They had ranged from $180 to $350 a panel. I RULE! I bought 12 panels, and still have tons of silk and linen in my fabric closet. 

Also have a use for each and every Liberty of London for Target box that I got last year!

Oh yeah, my fabric closet! When we got Elfa system in our bedroom, we had to figure out what to do with the big Ikea Armoires we'd been using. I gave 3 of them away, and saved the biggest one for the office. Now I have (almost) all my fabric in one place, where I can see it. I also have all my *craft* ( I hate that word) supplies organized behind closed doors. 

For the first time in my life, I don't have a box, or a bag, or a pile of papers, and random detritus piled up in a corner taunting me. I cleaned out my drawers, filed away the good stuff, threw away the bad stuff. I parted ways with tiny scraps of paper that I had moved from Michigan to San Francisco, to Hollywood, to West Hollywood, to Downtown, and finally to here. Like 10,000 pounds of it. 

These are pictures of cute French children's mannequins, I shot in Paris years ago.

I love it out here, and I wish a pink palace garage conversion for all my peeps. I don't know how I lived without it. I'm a very lucky girl. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011


When Jack first started going to school, we all struggled with the separation. Having two parents who don't have regular jobs, and are always around to play, snuggle, stare at you, has it's ups and downs. I'm sure when he's a teenager, he'll be like "OMG, get out of my face! Get a job, losers!". But as of right now, we remain his favorite peeps. 

We got the book, The Kissing Hand, which helped a lot. Every morning I would put some kisses in Jack's palms, and he would say he was saving them for later when he needed them. In the beginning I would walk out of the classroom with him crying, palms pressed to his cheeks. Devastating. 

But he's made friends, and grown more confident, and most days when Nipper picks him up, he doesn't want to leave. There are no more tears at drop off, and this too makes me sad. You can't win as a parent. You work so hard to help them learn to be independent, and then at the moment you realize they are doing just fine without you, you feel overwhelmingly proud, and wistful, "remember when he was just a little baby, and slept right on my shoulder?!"

Cut to 3 nights ago where I had a complete sobbing meltdown in the kitchen bc nipper told me some kid at Jack's school asked him why he was so slow on the bike path. He IS slow, and painfully cautious. There is a little hill on their playground that the bike path goes down, and if he's on it, walk-sitting his bike down the hill, there will be a 10 trike line up at the top of the hill waiting for him to get to the bottom. Some of the kids in the traffic jam are 2 years old. 

I cried bc I'm afraid we've made him that way. Or we haven't helped him overcome his natural cautiousness, and now he'll NEVER jump his motorcycle over those shark tanks. And because, even though Nip said he was fine, and didn't acknowledge this kid, maybe he wasnt, but stuffed it down, so no one would notice. (I don't know where he'd get that from...) I cried bc I want to keep him close, so he'll never get hurt (by a bike, another kid, a tsunami)... And then I cried because he's getting so independent I can't stop thinking about how much I'm gonna cry when he goes to college. I cried bc in 2 months, there's going to be another baby here, and I already feel guilty about the time that I won't be able to be with Jack. Then I cried because I'm a terrible mother that I'm already more worried about one kid than the other, and poor baby #2 is already getting the short end of the stick.

So, uhm, yeah. You ever have anything like that? I'm a hormone time bomb. Once I'm past the crazy pregnancy, post pregnancy hormone crazy, I'm not going to cry about this stuff. I'll just be all "suck it up kiddo, life is hard, and hell is other people". Right? Right?!

The other thing we did to help us all along, was to tell Jack that he's always in our hearts. That we are in his, and he is in ours. That wether we are with each other, or very far apart, the people we love are always in our hearts. Now that he's almost four, this has extended to when he is in trouble for minor infraction, (throwing crayons at mommy's face at bedtime), and he says, choking through tears "I LOVE YOU MOMMY, YOU ARE IN MY HEART!" He wants to make sure we still love him, even when we're mad. We assure him that we do. 

This morning, he came to give me a hug before he and Nipper went upstairs to rough house (thank jeebus for Nipper Knapp), he was saying hello to his baby brother in my tummy, and I said, "you know who is going to be in your heart? Baby brother." He said immediately "Mommy, he's already in my heart". And then I died...

Friday, March 18, 2011

I can' myself

I made two more. But you have to understand, I finished all the curtains. ALL OF THEM. What started as an "oh, I'll save so much money by doing it myself", project 4 years ago, finally ended yesterday. Our house is on a hill and has walls and walls of windows. It's why we loved it as soon as we saw it. But for sleeping past sunrise, it's not optimal. So I bought a giant bolt of blackout fabric, and set out to sew curtains for all the bedrooms. Oh, and in case, you thought I had been doing it piecemeal, don't. I started and finished them all in the last 3 months, that I've not been working. So 4 years, and then you know, a few days over 3 months. I can teach you a lot about procrastination.

So, curtains done, baby quilt done, office cleaned, bills paid, gardener fired (NOT YET, but I'm working up to it), I had a little bit of time, and OH, I can see all my craft supplies, so I thought, I'm going to make some wreaths for my peeps.

 Jack on Torch Lake last summer. 

It's so beautiful there! 

The first one is for Nipper Knapp's parents house. It says "The Cottage" on it, because that's what everyone calls it. It started off as a weekend lake house in northern Michigan, and they have made it into a beautiful year round home, and family paradise. We don't get there as often as the other kids, but look forward all year to spending time there in the summer, lazing in a hammock, roasting marshmallows in the firepit, riding to the sandbar on Torch Lake in Poppa's boat, to swim and eat burgers from the burger boat, and my favorite, blue moon ice cream from Higgins store. 

The second one is for my friend Misao. She and I have known each other since we were 8, and one time in college she sent me a box of Frida Kahlo cards, for no reason, other than she was thinking of me, and I was getting my degree in Latin American history, and how cute is that? Oh, and she's beautiful, and just finished her Phd in neuroscience at Harvard, and is married to the greatest guy. So you know, she's awesome, and the rest of us are sloths. When I got the little Japanese doll to make my friend Deanna's wreath in January, I got one for Misao too. Konichiwa!!!

 Misao and Dave on their wedding day

Misao and I in 4th or 5th grade

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pickel presents!

Look at the cute cute gift I got in the mail from Nicole over at Lerato Designs (and Swimming in Brine) I'm embarrassed to say that I found a very cute envelope tucked behind Jack's litte red barn that was under the mailbox. SO...I don't know how long it's been there. Things aren't exactly humming like clockwork around here. 

It's a needle wallet. So thoughtful! I do a ton of hand sewing, because unlike the very talented Nicole, I'm afraid of my machine, and also am a movie junkie, and like to sit on my couch and hand sew things, and embroider, while rotting my brain watching bad disaster movies. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!