Friday, February 27, 2009

Out of Left Field...

Who needs buffet cabinets when there's fabulous mid century record consoles like this for sale? Ooohh ladies, I'm really tempted.

Half Mile in 30 Minutes: Commuter Hades

There's one stretch of road on my commute that always clogs up. One street downtown, and it makes me crazy. Like telling your sister you think she's wrong crazy. Like eating an entire box of hostess cupcakes before trying on a bridesmaid dress crazy. Like owing the federal government the exact amount of taxes that you'll be receiving back from the state crazy. Yeah... super crazy.

So yesterday as I watched traffic stack up ahead of me, I felt a familiar tightening in my chest. I felt my breath quicken, my hands clench the steering wheel. And it was quickly apparent that I needed a diversion. I needed a distraction to keep from abandoning my car, running through traffic and yelling, "CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? I COULD WALK HOME FASTER!" So I grabbed my camera.

There's something very soothing about the click click click sound it makes. It calms the savage beast within my brain that keeps yelling, "You'll be commuting until you're too old to drive, hahahaha."

And as I continued to shoot, I noticed a few things about my drive that I normally don't see. For instance this gorgeous church. It reminded me to behave. It reminded me that there's a God, he loves me, and that I must try to holster my middle finger even though the woman behind me nearly rammed me with her gold minivan.

And as I inched forward, I noticed a mammoth structure with pillars and phoenix sculptures.

The Freemason headquarters. How have I never noticed this before? Now I'm not sure what the rules are about photographing this building. I halfway suspected a security guard to emerge from the huge dark doors, point his finger through my car window and say, "Maam, no photos here." You know, kind of like the way the Tiffany's security guard pointed his finger at me in New York.

But no one emerged. The big cold building just loomed over my tiny car and I wished desperately to look around inside. But I've been told it's men only. Sniff.

About this time the gold minivan behind me switched lanes in frustration, crept a few feet ahead, and then decided to merge back in front of me. I momentarily forgot the soothing presence of my camera and refused to let her in, which resulted in her screaming and pummeling the steering wheel with her fists. Should I have let her in? Probably. But lane hopping violates a rule in the rush-hour traffic manual. Or at least it would if there was a manual. And I wrote it.

So I ignored her rude gestures and examined the building to the right. It's some kind of rest home, and a friend of mine told me that at one time it was a convent.

I zoomed in to catch a fleeting glimpse of chandeliers before traffic began to move and the cars behind me honked. Goodness knows I had to move quickly, gold minivan lady was still trying to cut me off.

I crept along, nearing my destination, clicking and suddenly feeling much better about life. Sure, my commute home ended up being a whopping 50 minutes long, but you cant put a price tag on a soothing picture session.

You also cant put a price tag on a homeless man with a bright orange hat and a button that reads, "I'm a Legend in My Own Mind" rapping on your window for spare change.

But somehow, no matter how awful my day or how nightmarish the traffic, I get to come home to this.

Those floppy ears and little paws make it all so much better. I forget about the homeless men and the crazy minivans. I forget about red lights and middle fingers and honking horns. Because once I get home and shut the door, I've escaped it all. I've escaped it all, that is, until the next time it takes me 30 minutes to drive a half mile.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Place For Everything & Everything In Its Place (Or So They Say)

Remember when I bought this little window way back when?

Well, months later if finally found a home. This is so symbolic of the way I shop, and the problems that result from it.

When I see an item that I just love I buy it. I don't think "where will I put this?" or "do I have room to store this anywhere?" I just buy it and deal with the consequences later. And the consequences are that these cute finds end up stuffed beneath the bed and relegated to the shelf in the coat closet.

But there's nothing more satisfying than finally finding that 'perfect' spot for something. It also justifies the purchase, which is the most important part. Especially these days when I'm on a veritable flea market/antique mall lock down. All the cute windows and retro kitchen canisters in the world will not comfort me if one of us has to take a pay cute. Darn recession.

And on a side note, we're those people that violate this very big HGTV designer rule: never put lots of stuff on your fridge. You know the one I'm talking about. "They" always say, "Clear the clutter from the fridge, it looks bad." To which I shrug my shoulders. Where else do you put it all those cute Christmas cards? Besides, it's only on half of the fridge, so that should count for something.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Simplifying, Spring

I find myself simplifying the house. It happens the same way every season (I call it my midwinter slump). Along with light deprivation and growing plants inside, I get overwhelmed with a longing to simplify the house. The shelves, tables and knick-knacks that were once cozy and warm during the holiday season now feel a bit oppressive (and not to mention in great need of dusting). So, like the creature of habit that I am, every year around this time I start taking down the wall art, putting away the mounds of musty books, clearing up candy bowls and candlesticks.

It all began when we moved the bookshelves to the office. The whole room seemed to expand and take a deep breath. It seemed lighter, airier, ready for a change. I sat on the couch, surveying my work as I noticed the early buds on the trees outside and smiled as a dove cooed from the bushes under the window.

And of course all the picture taking and sighing and dove coos disturbed Mabel's hibernation. See her little head over the arm of the chair? That's her office. She stays loyal to her post all day long, barking at the postman and doves, even after I shout "THANK YOU" (our verbal cue for her to stop barking, which works only every so often).

She gave me her usual glare.

But she eventually realized it's fruitless to fight me and did the cutest little stretch so I could take more pictures. Or at least that's what I choose to believe. Never mind the fact that she mouthed and complained afterward, "Weeowowowowow," as she jumped down and marched out of the room to find a darker, less disturbed corner to sleep in. Mabel doesn't understand simplifying.

But nothing can get me down today, not even Mabel's grump-pot disposition. I have a living room I can breathe in, doves outside, and spring is coming quickly. All is right with the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kindergarten Art: My Guide to Decorating

The biggest obstacle for me (and for most people) when it comes to decorating is 'seeing' what we want. It's one thing to say, "I think I want to paint that cabinet red." But when you start trying to see it in your mind, the details get blurry, you worry whether or not it will match the rug and before you know it, you give up. That's what I do.

So years ago I started pulling out the colored pencils and sketching my ideas. Now when I say sketching... I mean kindergarten art. I'm no talented artist, but I can draw a straight line and shade colors. And that's really all it takes to do something like this.

I've had the urge to repaint the shutters in the dining area a kelly green. So I sketched it out to see how it looked. Then I realized the wall-lamps would need a makeover as well, so they got a color change.

And part of this re-do plan involves getting rid of Big Red (aka the huge refrigerator-like entertainment center in the front living room). It is the perfect space for a dining room buffet, which would take up less floor space and could still serve as a stand for a smaller flat panel tv. I could store linens, silver, and my super special secret chocolate stash inside.

So I began to play with different options and different paint colors.

Option #1 is to paint it black (to match the table and chairs). I could incorporate the kelly green in a mirror and ad another large turquoise lamp to match the two I already have.

Option #2 is a little more complicated. This option has a mid century buffet (which could likely be a pricey nightmare to track down). I love the lines of mid century furniture (which go so well with the style of our house), and it would be one option I wouldn't paint.

Option #3 is a dresser instead of a buffet, and painted the same green as the shutters. I really love this option, but fear a color overload. All these primary bright colors in one spot (the spot that you first see when you enter the house) might be a big pre-schoolish.

Option #4 has the same dilemma. As much as I love the idea of painting every stick of furniture turquoise, this might be a bit much considering that I already have so much of that color already in the house. But I love it all the same.

So that's my way of dealing with design dilemmas. These drawings aren't winning any awards, and in all honesty will probably find their way to the bottom of the trash bin when I get a new batch of ideas. But it really helps me focus and narrow down the direction I want to take, which really helps in flea markets and antique malls where I get barraged with tons of options. The next time you park in front of HGTV for an hour or so, try sketching out some of your ideas. Use magazine pictures for reference if you need inspiration. After all, you don't have to hang these drawings on the wall or even let anyone see them. Cause I dont. Except for this post, which has been oddly freeing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Good Weekend

A little indoor farming...

A little soaking up the sun...

A little drawing...

A few flowers...

And a LOT of peering around Mabel's head to watch the Oscars.
All in all, a very good weekend.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Time Out

In light of what has become a less than positive debate, I've taken down the previous post. I like to think of this as a happy blog... and this has become a less than positive debate. We'll be back to cheery regularly scheduled programming later.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Grow Baby Grow

When we started these little guys over a week ago, I had a nagging suspicion that nothing would happen. That we'd put all the work in, park them in front of the window and.. nada. I always have a nagging suspicion of personal failure when it comes to trying new things. Like in college when I went on my first diet, only to get caught wolfing down strawberry cake by my roommate, after which I ran from the room screeching, "Don't judge me!" while trying to wipe pink icing off my chin.

Wait, what am I posting about? Oh yeah, the seedlings.

I've been amazed at how quickly these little plants have sprouted. One day brown dirt, and the next, poof, little tiny plants. Basil, Oregano, Tomato plants, Peppers, and Tarragon; bright green and growing.

We're also starting to doubt the instructions on the seed packets that told us to start 8 to 10 weeks before planting in the ground. Um... maybe not. These little green bean plants remind us of a certain play where a scary plant yells, "FEED ME SEYMOUR." They're probably going to have to make a second home in styrofoam cups before they go into the garden in April. Cause you know, I have SO much extra room in my house for tons of styrofoam cups full of light needy plants.

And on a side note, when I bought this little table I envisioned much more chic and polished uses for it. But then again, it does have farmhouse table legs.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Few Things

1. On the way to work this morning, the Oak Ridge Boys song "Ya'll Come Back Saloon" came on the radio as I was flipping past. By some mystical redneck magic, I began to sing along. Every word. I had no idea I knew it. Must be some instant childhood memory recall (Dad was a fan).

2. Beanie Weanies without ketchup are not good, no matter how much brown sugar and mustard you use.

3. One of my friends has a bumper sticker that says, "My Yorkie Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student." Now, I'm a dog lover with a capitol D. But come on.

4. I am the only member of my family NOT doing something fabulous for spring break. No foreign mission trips for me. I'll be here, staining my teeth with coffee and wondering why one piece of hair on my head flips out and refuses to submit to a flat iron.

5. One of my favorite movies of all time is Murphy's Romance. When James Garner chews out her ex-husband and informs him that he's going to kick a certain part of his anatomy and ads, "I'm wearin the boots that can do it," my hear goes pitter patter. Must order on Netflix.

6. The highlight of my day is when I go home after work and pass by a crazy man who lives in an old storefront. He has a long woolly beard and no shirt... the spitting image of Walt Whitman. He stands beneath the flickering florescent light out front with his back facing the road and waves at me. Backwards. I always smile and wave back, even though he cant see me. And lest anyone encourage me to stop and take Walt some food; there are days when he's screaming instead of waving.

7. Ok... I was going to try to make it to ten but ran out of steam. And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to begin my workday, all the while leaning closer to the daylight bulb in the lamp on my desk. My plants have started to grow in it's direction, and so have I. Hurry up spring.

Vintage Home Office Makeover

Remember how I've fussed and thrown away and rearranged this little room? There were many pulled hairs and strained back muscles and tearful trips to Pottery Barn (mostly because I could only afford their salt and pepper shakers). But finally, the office is done.

I took these pictures yesterday afternoon as the sun was wafting back and forth between clouds. It's funny how some pictures are well lit, and others hazy. I love the light in this room, always changing and shifting.

In the end, the simplicity of the office solution made me want to hit something. We moved the bookshelves out of the living room and into the office. Duh. After that, it all came together.

There was a lot of furniture moving and a major parring down of the library. It was painful. Getting rid of books is not something that comes easily for me. But I did it. I scaled down my books to two shelves.

Oh. And these that I stuffed in the closet. Shhh, don't tell.

There's finally a place to put all my knick knacks; a drawing from my sister, my favorite picture from Oregon, a bowl full of travel treasures. My sister in law brought the hand carved bowl back from Africa, and it's filled with postcards from Italy, beach shells, hand painted egg from Ukraine, a rock from Denmark, crystals from my grandfather, a subway ticket from NY. So many happy things in one little bowl.

I did make a trip to Target where I nabbed the new shades for $8 a piece, along with a pair of curtain rods for $10. Window treatments, even at their most simple, make such a huge difference.

I didn't do any of the things I thought I'd do. I thought I'd paint the walls, paint the desk, sew curtains, build in a wall of bookshelves. And in the end all it took was a little furniture shuffling and throwing away.

Fin. It's a good feeling. That is, until I find the perfect mid century modern chair on a curb somewhere. There's always room for one of those.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Opposites Attract

When I was a camp counselor ten years ago, I remember sitting by the pool and watching a little boy walk back to his cabin. He walked slowly, dragging his pool towel in the dirt while eating a bright red Popsicle. Long trails of red stickiness dripped down his arms and mouth. His pool towel was filthy. Kids swarmed all around him, yelling, running to be on time for lunch. But not him. He smiled happily, taking his time, completely at ease with his little world.

My first instinct as a counselor was to shout out, "Hurry up! You're going to be late for lunch,and you're ruining your appetite with that Popsicle!"
But then I stopped myself. I simply gazed over the tops of my sunglasses, enjoyed the sunshine on my face and watched that happy little boy, wishing I could be more like him. Wishing that I could walk leisurely, forget schedules, and eat a messy Popsicle without caring if it ran down my arms or not.

And little did I know that a few years later, I would marry a man very much like that boy. No, Matt doesn't have red stained teeth or drag towels in the dirt. But he is happy. Easy to be around. He's doesn't concern himself with racing through life at breakneck speed. He takes it easy and enjoys the little everyday things that I so often miss. He is the complete opposite of me.

So thank you Matt. Thank you for making my life better. For making me calm down and smell the roses. For helping me be happier, walk slower, smile wider. Oh yeah. And you're hot. Happy Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Big Betty Recap

I'll say one thing; you ladies surely do make a girl feel good. Seriously. You've given a me a (as my grandmother would say) 'big head.' Thank you for all your sweet compliments. And I feel much better that I'm not alone battling Big Betty.

OK, from what I've heard, these were your key suggestions to treating wrinkles:

1. Eat Twinkies. 'Fuller' faces have less wrinkles. On it. I just ate two Hostess Cupcakes for breakfast.

2. Stop worrying. Who cares. Best advice I've had in a long time.

3. Frown less, don't use so many expressions. Yeah right. Less expressions. Snicker. I use my hands when I talk on the phone. This one is impossible.


5. TRY BOTOX! Mixed signals on this one. But I have to agree that botulism spores under my skin freaks me out more than Big Betty.

6. Photoshop. Hmm... I do have a husband handy in these types of things. This opens a world of opportunities. I could have thinner thighs, bright green eyes like I always wanted, a beauty mark, longer eyelashes. This could get out of hand quick fast and in a hurry.

7. Don't tan. On it. I'm the queen of sunscreen.

8. Grease 'R Up. I've got face cream recommendations galore (and a couple for plain old Olive Oil). And that's probably going to be my route of choice. I already use that pink Jergen's facial cream on my neck (it's an ingrained tradition in our family... fighting tissue paper neck wrinkles from an early age), so why not between the eyes?

Thank you ladies! And if anyone is in the market for wrinkle cream recs, be sure and check out the comments left in the last section. Now go forth and grease. I know I will.

P.S. What do these pictures have to do with face cream and wrinkles? Nothing. But I hate posts without pictures. So I present to you pictures of a little lavender plant on the back patio. I was going to take pictures of the face cream section in Walgreens, but people were staring at me and I chickened out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thrifting & A Wrinkle Intervention

There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, better than thrifting on a rare spring-like day in February. I'm beginning to think those folks that migrate to Florida in the winter have the right idea.

Whoever owns this shop is a woman/man after my own heart. And it reaffirms my love for globes to see them displayed like this. I don't know. Maybe it's the cheerful colors. Maybe they remind me of sixth grade and my favorite teacher Mr. Smith. But whatever the reason, I love globes and constantly fight the urge to buy every one I see.

In other news, I'm in need of some advice. About two years ago I glanced in the mirror and BAM... there was a giant wrinkle directly in between my eyebrows. No warning at all. I even named her Big Betty (no offense to the name Betty, I just like alliteration). So here's where the intervention comes in. Short of Botox, anyone out there have a magic cream that can erase Betty forever from my life?
I realize there are much bigger, more important problems in the world right now. The economy. The housing market. The void created by no more Twilight books. But, Betty greets me first thing every morning; front and center, creased and irritating. She must be dealt with.