Monday, December 03, 2007

The Party's Over

It's true, guys. I've had it with trying to make a go of this particular little blog. I started out with such big hopes and schemes a little over a year ago. But it was a tough year (again) (enough of that, already!) and I felt the need these days to not be this person, this blogger, struggling to maintain a sense of okay-ness and upbeatness and show that I was rising above the grief and the drama of the previous months.

Ugh. See, there I go again. Something about this blog just does that to me, these days, makes me into a far more mordant and morbid person than I feel myself to be (mostly).

My 2 monkeys will still get plenty of air time over on the new blog, since they do dominate nearly all my energy still, but I also hope to talk more about the books that are dear to me, and books that I'm reading lately and my random and opinionated thoughts on them. Also, I still hope to focus a bit on my nesting tendencies and the fact that I have a long laundry list of decor changes and upgrades to nearly every room in this house. After all, 2008 is destined to finally, finally be the year of Ikea Kitchen Redo. Really.

Thanks to all who've followed me and offered comments, encouragements and hellos here on my first blogging endeavor. I hope to see you (and more often than twice a month, I swear) over on my brand-new blog, The Reading Nest.

Cheers, and happy trails.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Vote for Me! (Or, Setting Myself Up, Pt. 2)

It's time again for Apartment Therapy's Fall Color Contest, and once again I couldn't help it -- I just felt compelled to enter. Unlike my entry last year, when I took pictures of the more formal living room area (but really, how formal can it be, with a train table taking residence there?), this year I shot and entered pics of our tangerine-orange family room & kitchen, along with a shot of the entryway and guest bath. What is strange is that last year, the color that was hot and in so, so many of the entries was GREEN. Apple green, grass green, lime green -- you get the picture. Oddly, quite a few of this year's entries seem to feature goldenrod/orange/marigold walls very similar to mine. Am I really that tapped into the zeitgeist? I think not, but what do I know? I'm just bracing for the tangerine-backlash to kick in among the commenters.

I just sent my entry in a couple of days ago, so I was surprised and happy to find that my entry has been posted this evening. (Merely sending in your entry doesn't guarantee you a entry on the contest page, so just being invited to the party feels like an honor.) Thankfully, the comments in this year's contest for all the entries overall are far less snarky and nasty than the year before. (Luckily I was spared any real vitriol last year --- let's just hope I'm not speaking too soon.)

Anyhow, go over there and call me an Insta-Finalist (please!) You do have to register on the AT site, but it only take a sec. Above is a close up shot of my kitchen counter, which I didn't end up sending over to them, although I really wanted to, as it's one of my favorite parts of the whole area (when it's clean, that is).

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Yes, I'm still here. I realize I've been starting just about every post that same way, lately. Maybe I'll just post once a month, throw in some lovely but dated picture like the one above (taken around this time, last year) and that will suffice: "I'm still here, here's a view in or around my house, hope you're all well, and adios."

I should tell you that I came this close, this close, to shutting the blog down completely. I had the post and good-bye message written, and all I had to do was hit the "Publish" button, and I could've walked away. But then I decided to sleep on it, and in the morning my decision to call it quits felt like an over-reaction, a plea for attention (from who, I'm not sure, since I think I have all of about 2.8 regular readers) and just a bad idea overall.

So here I am. I won't try to catch you up on th past few weeks since I've been gone. Part of the feeling of being burdened by this blog is feeling like I need to account for and relate all those hours & days I've spent since the last post. Thinking about doing that makes me feel tired, and bored.

I took the picture above on a pristine, blue-sky day last fall -- a day a lot like today. This is the view looking east out the upstairs stairway windows. It was breezy out then, but then it's often breezy around these parts. It's the second week of October, and still 88 degrees out. I'm about over that, but such is life in Southern California -- and the Inland Empire region, at that. I'm all ready for cold days and crisp nights and trying out some flannel sheets and baking a cake to go with the Maple Pumpkin Butter I bought a few weeks back. Ready to wear long sleeves, and socks, and let that deep flip-flop tan on my brown summer feet finally fade away. Maybe next week?

Also -- I think it's time to buy Tucker a big-boy bed. The crib seems to be the last major hold-over from his true baby days, now that he seems to be fully potty-trained during the day. (Unless you count the pacifier issue, which we won't for now.) Lately it seems that two or three times during the very early morning hours, from about 2 a.m. on, Tucker will wake up crying because one or both of his two beloved pacifier's, or fi-fi's, has gone missing overboard from the crib. If it's after 3 or 4 am (which it often is), that means that I am twice woken up from a dead sleep to stagger down the hall, drop to my knees and root around under the crib for the missing fi-fi. This morning, when I went in there around 5:30, it felt cold in the room, so after finding the missing fi and giving that half-reassuring, half-threatening pat on the back with my slurred, "now go back to sleep!," I put a blanket over him and his nestled down and went right out.

Now, this afternoon, there was a call for the blanket again at naptime. Twice before he fell asleep, I was summoned into T.'s room to adjust the blanket because it wasn't covering his toes, and evidently one must have ones toes covered with a thick blankie to sleep well on a toasty afternoon. I see bad things coming from this, a bad precedent that I've set out upon in my misguided doting-mommy ways in the dark chill of 5:30 in the morning. I foresee endless trips down that hall at all hours, to fetch the fi-fi's, to retrieve the dropped "Cars" cars, and now to tuck the blankie in around those poor and naked toes. Oh god.
So yes. A big-boy bed...with tucked sheets and blankie, and maybe even a nice soft pillow, too. We need to get on this, and soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Came & Went

This blog's anniversary, that is. It's been a year, and this here brings my post total up to 49. An average of 4 posts a month, or 1 a week. Several times in the last week I've thought of shutting down the blog completely. I don't think I'm cut out for it. I'm reticent by nature, I hold my cards pretty darn close, and maybe the naval-gazing tendencies inherent in blogging just don't jibe with my Inner Me. Witness my "design week" intentions of posting pics of my house over several days. I made it through my bedroom and powder room, and then petered out.

Still. Here I am, for now. I think that after a year of blogging, I need to accept and recognize that I'm just not the type to post beautiful pictures of my freshly baked tarts, served up on my prettiest china. I want to be that type, of blogger and person, but it's not happening. I could, instead, take some pictures of the slapped together PB&Js I make several days a week, served up on our finest Dora & Diego paper plates.

I am still riding a pendulum of wild emotions these days. I found out earlier this week that my step-grandmother died, a bad death of lung cancer, in rural Oklahoma. I hadn't seen her in about seven years, but still. What I remember is being at her and my grandpa's house in Norwalk as she and her sister sat around the kitchen table, smoking and listening to country music. They both had big black bouffant hair-do's, even in the mid-'70s, and they sat before their hand mirrors and vanity cases and "put on their faces" and gossiped in their thick Arkansas drawls.

It was another life and another time, long gone now. And my paternal grandpa is still alive back there in deepest Oklahoma, ensconced in a nursing home, remembering none of it, not aware that his second wife has gone and left him.

Back here in my own home, things are good. Mostly. If I'd written this post yesterday I might've been all gushy with the thick bliss of our domestic life, and how fall is in the air and the cooler air makes everything seem rejuvenated and fresh. How we went camping with the kids for the first time this weekend, and how much fun that was.

But, I'm writing tonight, after the pendulum has swung again. There is always a flip side to it all, the dark side. Some nights I go to bed beside my husband and thank God and the heavens for our sweet, full, crazy days. And then there's nights like this, when I think of this song, and how it makes me want to lie down and die a little, because it's so true, and the truth hurts.

I said I know we don't talk about it.
We don't tell each other....
All the little things that we need.
We work our way around each other
As we tremble and we tremble and we bleed.
Sweet and bitter, bitter and sweet. It should be required listening for all engaged couples about to take the leap. That, and reading Jane Smiley's novella The Age of Grief. Now that I think about it, perhaps that would be a better name for this blog, considering all the events of the past year.

Oh, don't worry. It won't last. The pendulum will swing back, as it always does, is arcing back over toward contentment and gratitude even as I write these words. Tomorrow afternoon will find me, and all of us, back at Disneyland again, and I'm not even being metaphoric, not one bit.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Writer Envy

So, a small break from all the decorating talk to say a few words about the book currently on my nightstand. (Actually, there are 3 books on my nightstand, but this is supposed to be a somewhat quick little post.) Even though I've got my Hot New Writer radar cranked down pretty low these days, I still noticed a lot of press and attention given to Miranda July's story collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You. I always feel that little bit of....frisson when I see that a new story collection is out by some hip young thing. Frisson, which you know, is actually more like a little shiver of unadulterated jealousy.

I wanted to read the book, and yet I didn't, especially after seeing how cute and ingenue-ish looking Ms. July is. Cute, waifish girls with adorable haircuts are not supposed to be good writers, too. That's specifically one of the rules made by the just and honorable Writing Gods. Right? Oh, and then add in that she also made a movie that won special jury awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Really, how good could she be?

Well, turns out the answer is: Pretty Good Indeed. (Dammit.) I'm enjoying the book very much, and as always, when I enjoy a book very much and lay there admiring the writer's wit and graceful turns, I get that old, biting sense that I need to be writing, too. Really, really need to get on that.

If you look over there at my "About Me" square, it says that I'm blogging to tear down a massive Great Wall of China-sized writer's block that's been lodged in my face since.....since a long time. Maybe the blogging is doing it's work, because the writing voice, that little echo in my deepest inner ear, is making itself heard these days, and I'm listening.

In the meantime, I'm glad that I picked up this collection of stories. July's stories are on the short side, and quirky enough to remind me a little of Aimee Bender's work, but without what I consider Bender's love of the gimmicky hook. She has some great lines that resonate and reveal in all the best ways that the short story form is supposed to do. Like this, from a story about two young girls who have run away to Portland together and gotten jobs:

"Everything we had thought of as The World was actually the result of someone's job. Each line on the sidewalk, each saltine. Everyone had rotting carpet and a door to pay for. Aghast, we quit. There had to be a more dignified way to live. We needed time to consider ourselves, to come up with a theory about who we were and set it to music."
Lovely. So much for the just ways of the Writing Gods, not that I had any real faith in them, anyhow. (July's website for the book is also super-duper cute without being cutesy, and the "About" entry on her other site is enough to arouse envy and grudging admiration from any soul with creative aspirations.)

As for me, I spent the day daydreaming of and being nostalgic for college campuses I have belonged to and visited, like UCLA and my alma mater, CSULB. I've had some serious longings lately for my county of birth, L.A. County, and for college campuses in general. I realize lately that if I want to get there, to get back to them, then I'm gonna have to play like a salmon and swim terribly hard upstream to escape these suburban, exurban sticks and find my way home. And the only real way to do that, it's becoming more clear, is to become myself, somehow, and buckle down to listening to those narrative- and metaphor- and sentence-lovin' voices in my head, and not be afraid of what they have to say.

Jeez. No wonder it's easier for me to just take pictures of and talk about the john.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Quick Design Lust Post: The Bathroom

There are actually 2.5 bathrooms in my house: the master bath , the "kids bathroom" down the hall painted bright yellow, and then this one. Since the other 2 are upstairs, this is the most public bathroom, and though it's the smallest, it's also my favorite.

This next picture below shows how the previous owners had the place decorated when we bought the place over 3 years ago (!). It was the primary bath of a teenage girl, which I guess explains the red M&M clock. Even so, if I was her mother, no way would I have let her pair purple accessories against the orange-ish brown tiles:

Not a terrible looking room, but certainly not all that inspired, either. I lived with this same bathroom, with its white walls and cheap builder-grade fixtures for over a year, and couldn't quite figure out what to do with it. This was my initial decor for the bath, which was perfectly okay, but even then, was fairly yawn-inducing:
For a while, I considered tearing out that rather unattractive white wraparound counter and putting in a stand-alone vanity sink. But, the room needs some counter space, as this is the bath that our infrequent house guests use, too.
Also, this was meant to be a quick, cosmetic fix-up, not a total design overhaul. I did know that I wanted the feel of the room to somehow jibe with the style of my retro-modern living room. Then one day, I was flipping through a catalog and was struck by a picture of some pretty aqua-blue robin's-egg hand soaps, all tied 'round with a dark brown ribbon. And voila, my inspiration was found. (If you think hand soaps are a strange source of inspiration for my bathroom design, well, I can't wait to show you how the colors in the family room were inspired by a drinking glass from Ikea.)

Myk and others were a little dubious at first of my idea to paint the walls dark brown. My argument was: since there are no windows in this room anyhow, even with bright white paint, you'd still need to flip on the lights to avoid doing your business in pitch-black darkness. Speaking of the lighting -- one of my favorite parts about sprucing up this room was being able to change out the dreaded 4-globe fixture about the sink. (Sorry I don't have a photo of its replacement, which has milky white glass and brushed nickel.) Also, even though I again don't have a photograph, I need to mention the terrific job that Myk did installing white crown moulding around the ceiling. This room has an extra-tall ceiling, and the white up there against the brown really draws the eye up and adds a feeling of space to what might have otherwise felt like a small, dark closet.

We also changed the faucet to a brushed satin nickel, the same finish as the towel rack. Just to the right of the door here, there's a shower with white faux-tile and a glass door. After this project was done,
this became one of my favorite rooms in the house, and it alway gets a big (positive) reaction the first time people see it. What a surprise to enter, flick the switch and see all that dramatic contrast and the rich cherry-brown walls. Barring the need for some kind of artwork on the big bare wall to the left of the door, it also feels great to know that this is probably the only room in the house where I don't feel the need to buy anything else to declare it done. No wonder I love it!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Design Lust, Day 1: Bedroom

Sorry for the slight delay on getting started here on my proposed "design week," focusing on my house. Like I said, things have been extra child-centered around here these days, and like Willie Nelson says...funny how time slips away. But enough dilly-dallying and excuses. Let's just jump right in.

I'm starting with the least finished and realized room in the house, our master bedroom. (Excluding Myk's office, but that's His Domain, and I have no say in there.) My head is bursting with ideas and colors for this room right now, but any plans for a re-do here (or any other room) are on the back burner until we tackle our next major project, The Ikea Kitchen. (Another subject altogether, which will probably deserve it's own week of posts somewhere down the line.)

Still, while the major projects of painting and wallpapering and re-curtaining the room will have to wait a bit, I've been buying things here and there, in anticipation of what this room will need someday. The first of these recent purchases was a new bedspread. Over the winter I brought back out, after a spell of retirement, my beloved patchwork duvet cover from Anthropologie, bought at least five years ago. I loved that bedspread, and got really thrilled when I noticed once while watching Gilmore Girls that Lorelai had the same pillow shams on her bed. However, the patchwork had a rip in one of the squares that only grew larger and larger with use, and it was a bad rip, not something that could be repaired. That one ripped square grew to become a big flapping rip of several squares, hidden only by my fleece winter blanket. Plus, it was a little feminine and girly and shabby chic-ish for Myk's taste, so I promised that the next one would be a little more neutral and less floral.

In May, after much catalog-perusing and heavy thought, I bought a dark tan/linen matelasse bedspread, the kind I'd seen and loved in the The Company Store catalog, but bought at Ross for much, much less. I love the clean and crisp look of this, especially paired against a set of white eyelet sheets (which are out of rotation on the bed this week). Despite my promises of making the bedroom less feminine, I think I'm going to have to take that back. Note the floral, chintz pillow. It's only ONE decorative pillow, though, so I think this is a bit of a compromise. The only problem with the bedspread is that's it just a bedspread, and a very thin one at that. The colder months ahead are going to require something heavier in addition to this, and I can't quite figure out where to go. A throw? An actual comforter over this? More catalog-perusing is definitely in order.

The other, much more recent purchase, was this vintage Turner print that I found on Ebay. I wasn't really shopping for a print for the bedroom, rather I was instead hunting down a Turner flamingo mirror for the living room. (Which I found! More on that later.) Still, when I saw the great price, the nice big size, and the colors in this print, I knew it was perfect for the bedroom, especially for my visions of what the bedroom will look like someday.
So, here are my thoughts for this future master bedroom of my dreams: The word that keep coming to mind when I think of the design and feel of the room is louche. An old-fashioned word, meaning "shady, shifty, indecent and disreputable." And decadent, too. No, I don't want my room to look like a bordello. But I was struck by this image on the home page of visual artist Ray Caesar. (I'd post it here, but couldn't grab it off his site.) Obviously, I won't have the stained mattress, but so much of that image resonates...the wallpaper, the window fan, the very vintage, mid-century feel. This is what I want. A room that Blanche DuBois, that randy old broad, would feel right at home in.

The pine sleigh bed, the side tables, the bed lamps, the paint color...all of them are out. As are the green window curtains, which are pretty, but also remind me a little too much of that Gone With the Wind skit from the Carol Burnett show. (And yes, I AM that old, to remember this from my '70s childhood.) (The curtains framing the room in the above shot are staying. The shot was taken from the bathroom, looking into the bedroom.)

Behind the bed, which will exchanged for the black wrought-iron bed currently used in the guest room, will be an one accent wall that is wall-papered. I am very, very fond of an Osbourne & Little wallpaper I saw in a recent issue of House and Garden. A web search of that design was unsuccessful, but I did find this one, which is quite similar in feel (the other one had birds, too) and the overall look of this shot deserved inclusion here, because it strongly hints at the feel I'm going for:

Those lamps are also very similar to what I see next to the bed, too. The Turner print will move to the left of the bed, above a small loveseat I'll bring out of the garage and slipcover. I'm not sure what will go over the bed....right now, I'm thinking of one large or several small Venetian mirrors.

I realize now, after struggling to write this post, that reading about what I'm planning to do someday is not half as exciting as simply showing you pictures of what I've already accomplished. I have more to say about the bedroom, my plans for which are rooted in the bedroom of my teen years, and my interest in design, which I realize lately has been with me for much, much longer than I recognized. But I'll give us all a break and stop here for now.

More tomorrow (or rather -- soon!) of a much more finished and realized room in our house. Thanks for making it down this far!

**Edited to note: As with all my posts, you can click on any of the above pictures for a much larger, better detailed view of the photos. This is especially helpful with that first shot of the bedroom.