Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Moment I Wake Up


The moment my alarm clock blares in the morning, I think the same thought.

"Crud, what am I going to wear?"

I'm not one of those women with fabulous wardrobes, for two reasons.

1. If I have extra moolah, chances are I'm going to spend it in a flea market on a candelabra begging to be spray painted.

2. I find the entire concept of clothes exhausting.

If left to my own devices, I'll amass 10 decent outfits and wear them repeatedly for the next decade. It's not the best of practices. Why? Because recently my little sister pointed at my floor length blue jean skirt and said, "Um, Liz... nobody wears those anymore. Except maybe the Duggars."

I was sideswiped. I thought I was still in vogue.

These days I find myself trying a little harder. I also drag my sister along with me and model things.

"How about this?" I'll say.

"Nah, too 1992," she'll respond.

I have no idea what that means, but apparently, it's not good.

So this morning when I awoke, I thought my usual question. What should I wear? My sister told me once I should stand in front of my closet and ask myself, "How do I want to feel today? Business like? Beachy?" and choose said outfit based on that.

So this morning, I stood in front of my closet and thought, "How do I feel today?"

The answer was unavoidable.

"I feel like wearing a tent," I mumbled, rifling around for my biggest, baggiest dress (a gray eyelet shift worn over tights).

Some days you feel beachy. Some days you feel like a tent. And some days you end up looking like someone from 1992. From the moment I wake up, it's my never-ending conundrum.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Bliss

Summer bliss is a rainy morning (after three weeks of dry, hot weather).
Summer bliss is a flower bed full of caladiums.

Summer bliss is quiet evenings on the front porch, listening to the whir of neighborhood sprinklers.


Summer bliss is finding a crystal-rock votive holder at a flea market for $5.


And summer bliss is the comforting whir of the air conditioner, a 9 pm run to TCBY, and a Tudor's marathon with my little sister. Have I mentioned how much I love summer? Oh, I did? A million times? Whoops. Sorry.



Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview with Allie Larkin & Book Giveaway

When Allie Larkin offered to send me a copy of her new book Stay, I was thrilled. When it arrived in the mail and I saw she'd signed it, I was even more thrilled. But as I sipped coffee at our local bookstore and saw her book on the very front shelf by the door, I squealed out loud a little.

It's nice to see good things happen to someone you like.

And so, in celebration, I'm posting an interview with Allie and giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commenter. But not my signed copy. Sorry Charlie, I'm keeping that one. :)





When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
After taking several years off, I went back to school at 23 and started writing. I’m 33 now, so it hasn’t been all that long in the greater scheme of things. When I began writing, I was kind of in denial about the fact that it was something I wanted to do seriously. I was a Communications major, and I kept trying to convince myself that there were practical business applications for all the writing classes I took. I’d spent some time as a theatre major, and I knew that having a creative career is not the easiest path. I desperately wanted to do something practical that had a set career path. But, one of my professors pulled me aside and said, “You know, you’re kind of good at this writing thing.” I remember thinking, “Oh, shoot!” As soon as he said it, I knew it was something I needed to try?. I think being a writer was probably a dream I’d been denying for a really long time. As a kid, I was only slightly enthusiastic about visiting Disneyworld, but getting to go to Louisa May Alcott’s house was thrilling. I really should have known.

How long did it take you to write Stay?

I started STAY as a writing exercise in my advanced fiction class 2002. It evolved into a short story, and from there spent a few years in a file cabinet. I pulled it out for a new writing group with the intention of polishing it and submitting it as a short story; however, as I tried to discover more about my characters to write a better story, I realized that there was more there, and it and really needed to be a novel.

What is your schedule like when you're writing?

I’m a little bit of a binge writer. I think about my story constantly as I’m doing other things. I need to set things up in my head first. Then I sit down and write through what I’ve been thinking about. I sometimes spend days away from my manuscript, and then I’ll write three or four chapters in two days. I’m also a huge believer in not editing my work as I’m writing, and, as a result, my first drafts usually only make sense to me. But I love to revise, and I firmly believe that writing is as much about revision as it is about that initial spark of an idea.

The characters and situations (especially the topic of cancer/loss) in this book are so vivid. How much, if any, was inspired by your own life?

Even though neither of our dogs were drunken internet purchases, Joe, the dog in STAY is a bit of a combo of our two German Shepherds, Argo and Stella (and Argo is actually the cover model), but all the other characters are purely fiction.

Like Van, I grew up in Westchester and moved to Rochester, but my Westchester experience was very different from Van’s. I grew up in a much smaller, more modest town, and there weren’t the same kind of social pressures that Van encountered as a have-not in a world full of haves.

The story really evolved from the characters and it really is their story.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?
Well, of course I love Van. I wish she were real and we could hang out. She’s so earnest and she doesn’t have a lot of pretense. Her defense mechanisms are down, but she still tries so hard to do the right thing. And I really admire that in her (although, I know that’s weird because I created her).

But I think I’m most proud of Diane. She was something of an evil cartoon character in earlier drafts. But she’s evolved into a character who has a few serious weak spots. She and Van share some similar vulnerabilities and how they relate to them differently is something I really enjoyed exploring.

What authors have been most influential in your life?

I am obsessed with Willa Cather. She had such a love for her characters and I think it really came through in her writing. But more recently, Allison Winn Scotch did a giveaway on her website and included a long list of books by women who write (the contest is over, but the list of writers is still up here – (http://www.allisonwinn.com/ask-allison/2010/6/16/the-mother-of-all-giveaways.html). Being in touch with this amazing group of ladies has been incredibly influential. Having that support and insight is absolutely amazing. And getting to read their work and walk into bookstores and see books by people I get to connect with is incredible.
Who is your favorite literary character?
I have way too many favorites to pick just one. As a kid, I thought Pippi Longstocking was the greatest ever, and I love Thea from THE SONG OF THE LARK, and Jo from LITTLE WOMEN.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be a pig farmer. I’d seen a TV segment on pigs that talked about how smart they are, and I was absolutely fascinated. I thought pig farmers got to hang out with pigs all day, and that’s pretty much what the job was. On a third grade class trip to a homestead museum, I saw a slaughtered pig. It was part of an exhibit on how they got ready for winter in colonial times. I haven’t eaten a mammal since, and that was the beginning of my search for a new career path.

Last but not least, what advice do you have for aspiring writers?


You need to love your characters. Writing a novel and all the rejection and work that comes with it is challenging. The thing that kept me going through the process was that I needed to see the story through to completion. I loved my characters, and it became very important to me to tell the best story I could tell and do the characters justice. All the ups and downs and fear and rejection were secondary to the story I wanted to tell, and I kept going because I cared so much.
*Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. Winner will be picked Friday morning.

Pinecones & Birthdays

Is it seasonally inappropriate to keep scouring pine cones from the yard and bringing them inside? Because I have some on the dining room table right now and I've noticed a few raised eyebrows. Maybe I should throw a few seashells and some rosemary in the mix.

Also, happy birthday to my darling Matt and precious Laura. Two very bright, not to mention hilarious, lights in my life. You know I had to post this.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Green Mint, Green Hair

Did you know you can root mint in a glass of water? You can never have too much mint.



Also, did you know that mint leaves crushed up in iced tea is heaven in a glass?



I've found my summer drink.



And did you know that green/blue hair is really in right now?
Well I didn't.
But my baby sister did.




Thursday, June 24, 2010

Attention Arkansas Ladies...

Do you ever wish you could just chat with an interior designer for a few minutes? Or be a fly on the wall while they talk about how they get ideas, plan projects, and stick to a budget?

Here's your chance. Tobi Fairley is holding a Design Camp in July here in Little Rock. She designed all these lovely rooms. I love the fact that her designs, while elegant, still make me want to walk into a room, take my shoes off and read a magazine.

Her work has been featured in major magazines and on tv. And another reason to love her? She painted these flea market lamps. Yep a woman after my own heart. You can read her blog here. And here's the camp info...


DESIGN CAMP
Tobi Fairley Creates A Camp That Caters To Design Enthusiasts

Award-winning Interior Designer Tobi Fairley repeatedly gets requests from fans and design enthusiasts who want to spend time working alongside her. Finally, she’s giving them a way to do just that. With the launch of Tobi’s first-ever Design Camp, she’ll be opening up her studio and sharing her knowledge in an intimate and exclusive setting.

Design Camp will be a four-week course created to not only help students learn the basics of design principles, but also help them begin to create their own design projects. They’ll get to do hands-on activities and learn in the workshop environment of Tobi’s studio and art gallery. All courses will be led by Tobi, and will include:

Design 101 – the basics of furniture placement, paints, finishes and more
Finding Your Inspiration – how to research design blogs, books and magazines and create an inspiration board
Accessorizing With Style – all about fabrics, soft furnishings and those important finishing touches
Getting Bang For Your Buck – learn how to decorate without breaking the bank

Classes begin Tuesday, July 6, and continue on July 13, 20 and 27. Classes are from 6 to 8 PM. The entire four-week session is only $500. However, if students register before July 1, they’ll receive a $100 discount off the cost of Design Camp. They’ll also be entered in a drawing to win a day behind-the-scenes at a Tobi Fairley project for her upcoming shoot with Traditional Home magazine.

But the fun won’t end once summer’s over. Tobi will also be offering six week, in-depth courses in both the fall and spring. Plus, a variety of online courses are in the works.

Those interested should email info@tobifairley.com, or call 501-868-9882 to register. Class size is very limited.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paddling

When I spied this little duck at the zoo, I identified. He was working hard, paddling as hard as his little webbed feet would go, zipping around an indoor pool.

I nodded my head and gave him a thumbs up.

"Me too buddy. Me too."

Lately I'm keeping my head above water. Really I am. But I'm padding really, really fast.



The flip side is, I love to be busy. I love a project. I love purpose. I love waking up in the morning and knowing what I'll be doing.


And so I'm spending a lot of time in my office/library/ground-zero.


I'm also doing my best not to be distracted by the giant green elephant ears springing up outside my window. Especially when the lawn lights up with fire flies. There's something about bright summer green lawns and yellow twinkling bugs that wipes my brain clear of all productive thoughts. So yeah, I try to ignore this view.

I promise that one day I'll have time to return all your sweet blog comments. And post regularly. Let's just consider these my summer hours. Until then I'll be paddling fast. It's work. It's exciting. It's a blessing.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Technicolor Tomatoes

I may gripe about the summer heat. But I don't gripe about the tomatoes. Yum.





Other summer things I don't gripe about: cicadas at dusk, lightening bugs, shorts, flip flops, the ice cream truck and sunlight until 9 pm.


There. I've found the attitude adjustment I've been needing. Although, I'll need another one when we get our air conditioning bill next month.







Monday, June 21, 2010

Blue Wall

It thundered all weekend, but no rain. No rain, just heat indexes of 110. I was disappointed to say the least. So I did something I vowed I'd never do. I painted an accent wall.

You see, I've been wary of accent walls ever since the inception of Trading Spaces. There was always some crazy accent-wall theme in Doug's deviously mean designs and Hildy' loopy ideas. I didn't like it, so I've steered clear all these years. Until yesterday.


I was hot. I was sweaty. My tomato plants are not doing well, and the whole 'thunder with no rain' thing was the tipping point. I was bound and determined to paint SOMETHING blue. I needed something the color of water and rain and all things cool. So this is what happened.

Actually, I love it. I can't believe it took me this long to do it. And while it may not be rainy and cool outside, I have a blue wall. The house feels cooler already.

Friday, June 18, 2010

WWII at Mabel's House



Picture this... Sophia Petrillo style.



I spent all day cleaning: mopping floors, bleaching counter tops, folding laundry, wiping baseboards. Big time cleaning.

I was irritated. I didn't know why, so I forged ahead with my mop and plastic gloves. And then, a few hours later, I realized the source of my bad mood. I zeroed in on the fly in my ointment. It was the ever-present, booming, surround sound of Gatling guns and flying planes.

Matt was playing a video game. A Wii game to be exact. WWII era.

I marched into the den, clothes basket in one hand.

"Excuse me, could you possibly turn that down?"

Matt jumped, jarred out of his own personal war-world.

"Oh, yeah, sorry."

I stood there, tapping my foot. He smiled and returned his full attention to the game.

"You do realize I've cleaned the whole house right? That I've been busy and haven't sat down for the last two hours, right?"

"Yes," Matt smiled. "And I deeply appreciate it."

I squinted, feeling a bit more like Voldemort than Martha Stewart. "Do you plan on doing ANYTHING today?"

Matt held up his hands, mock-insulted, "Hey lady... I've done plenty today."

I knew he was joshing me, trying his best to pull me out of my cranky pants mood with a little sarcasm. But I wasn't biting. "Would you care to enlighten me?"

Matt stood up full height, hands on hips. "I have killed approximately 200 Nazis today." He pointed with one finger at his giant TV, his WWII game on pause.

I blinked a few times and then dropped my laundry basket, reduced to hysteric laughter. Matt didn't realize I'd lose my bad mood that quickly... but it's impossible to be mad at a man mentally saving the world from Nazis while he lounges in his underwear. Impossible.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Have you ever taken a random picture and thought, "Huh, whaddya know? This pretty much sums up my life right now."

Well I have. This picture, to be exact. Let me explain.

I have a lot of things up in the air right now. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. And yet, some aspects of my life are starting to slide. For instance, blogging. Eating. Cleaning. You know, the basics.

So when I snapped this picture, I thought, "This is it. This is a portrait of my life right now."

Item #1: The dog bowl. Mabel has been royally put-out with my new daily schedule. The schedule looks something like this. Get up at the crack of dawn and write. Work. Write some more. Eat. Write. Water garden, pay bills, examine circles under my eyes. Write. Sleep.

And so Mabel, in rebellion of this new schedule, has developed some irritating quirks. She refuses to eat in any other location. Seriously. The dog bowl has to be right next to my reading chair, on the carpet, or it's starvation time.


Item #2: Laundry. I did stacks of it yesterday, only to discover (after folding) it had the oh-so-pleasant aroma of mildew. I'm considering using the towels anyway.


Item #3: Salt shaker in the living room. Yep. You guessed it. In the middle of this hectic schedule I've taken to eating dinner while watching tv. I know, I know. No good.



Item # 4: Mabel. Of course, this is slightly redundant with regards to the dog bowl. But she's in a foul mood. She misses the stick throwing and walks. She's angry. And she's not going to be ignored. In fact, she was grumbling while I took this picture.



Item #5: Pillow fight. Not in the literal sense, but in the I-didn't-buy-this-thing-so-Mabel-could-lay-on-it-and-lick-her-feet sense.



Item #6: The shag carpet that killed the vacuum cleaner. That's right. It started smelling like a combination of electrical-fire and old cheese and went kaput. Goodbye vacuum cleaner. So that's me. Smelly laundry, rude dog, broken vacuum cleaner. Thank goodness it's Thursday.



Monday, June 14, 2010

Blue Green Monday


Early this morning I noticed a tiny robin's egg caught up in the lavender.

Blue and green, first thing on a Monday morning.

In the kitchen I noticed the baby green tomatoes in my favorite little bowl.

Blue and green. Some days it's so easy to be thankful.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Rainy Day Reading

It's dark and blue this morning. The rain is pattering on the roof, and I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do before work than read.

I found this book in a flea market a few years ago.

I flipped open the front cover, saw this and was sold.


Right now I'm reading about mushrooms. Which is actually timely since they're springing up like wildflowers in all this rain.

It's good to be reading. It's good to hear rain. It's even better that it's Friday. I've got a BIG secret project in the works for the weekend. I've also got a ton of writing to do. And the cherry on top? Mom and Dad are in town. Now if I could just find the time to clean my office...


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Inspiration

I love bookshelves. But what I really long for is one gigantic wall of them. I'd love to consolidate all our tomes and chotchkies in one place. Check out more of this lovely apartment over at Design Sponge.



These glasses are perfect for patio dinners with twinkle lights. But then again, isn't everything at Anthropologie perfect for patio dinners with twinkle lights? On sale here.


I love EVERYTHING about this blog. It's called Bluebirdbaby. She's remodeling a kitchen, lives near the ocean, likes good food and has a daughter who reminds me of my little sister (back in the day). Just go visit. You'll be hooked.


What can I say about this lovely kitchen? Fantastic farmhouse chic? To visit this lovely blog, click here.

This poster just screams summer vacation. *Source, click here

And last but not least... I'm really intrigued by the idea of blue ceilings inside a home. Who says they're just for porches? I love it so much, in fact, I'm pretty darn tempted. *For source click here