I'd love it if you joined my readers. It's nice to know I'm not just typing into a black hole.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Baskets, Jars, Tins and Cigars; More Keeping of Stuff

When space is scarce, creativity is required.  If the items being stored are attractive in anyway, I try to use exposed forms of storage in order to free up closet/cupboard space for  the less beautiful items.
Books and Baskets create a side table
Purses, Scarves, Hats;
all can be used in decor in
order to create more closet space.
I multipurpose where ever possible.

Office/Night stand
And, I use what I've got.

Magazine Rack turned
Blanket Stand
Fruit Baskets turned
Baby Caps/Burp Cloths

This silverware basket
makes a
great mail/info center
Baskets, jars, tins, cigar boxes, anything that might work as a storage container is my best friend.

Fruit basket and Cake dish;
obvious yet functional

This basket works beautifully as a snack center.  It sits
on the counter, at the end of the table, for easy
Jars have a multitude
of uses

Even layering baskets can be helpful

I absolutely love when a favorite find doubles as functional!

This old tin has been around forever; the cigar boxes
were a lucky freecycle find.
Both serve great storage purposes;
and I love to look at them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Keeping of Stuff

Laundry/Creative storage Room
Every square inch is functional
Jars are a fabulous resource

Biscuit's/My closet & office storage
Baskets provide the illusion of order

Traditional storage of grandmother's china

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Does This Baby Make My Butt Look Big?

I can't tell you how many times I've encouraged my sweet, plump, girlfriends about their weight gain during pregnancy.  "It'll come off, don't worry."  "Go with it.  If ever you can enjoy your round self, it's now."  "You're gorgeous!"

It's amazing how easy it is to give advice.

In my first two pregnancies I spent the first 14 or so weeks throwing up.  Even spent some time in the hospital with the twins.  Yet, I still managed to gain the high end of the recommended weight both times.  This pregnancy brought the nausea as well, but no where near as bad.  I was able to manage it by eating... ALL THE TIME.  I gained a good portion of my weight in those first 12 weeks.  Then the baked goods cravings started.  I was powerless.

When I'm pregnant, I do it up right; pregnant arms, face, butt, feet.  I'm one of those puffy, worn, preggies that sit on the bench in the mall, smoothy in hand, glaring at the spunky toothpicks-for-limbs, 20-something pregnant anomalies walking in and out of Motherhood maternity stores.  You know, the ones we like to say aren't realistic until they step out of the magazine and into my doctor's office.

My doctor isn't concerned with my weight gain.  Why doesn't that relieve me more?  

The kids are helpful.  It's really fun to experience pregnancy with two pre-adolescents and a teenager.  "Hey Mom, do that triple chin thing again!"  "That swim suit doesn't look right."  *Sigh*  "You look fine.  You look like.. a.. mom..." (heard in my head as nightmarish echos).

This all flies in the face of my ideals.  I'm very pro REAL woman.  I hate the obscene expectations put on society (especially females) to be super-stars.  I think retailers would be surprised at the influx of business they'd see if they marketed apparel to flatter human people.  It would be so much easier to select clothes if the manikin used to model them was a size 8 or 10 as opposed to size 10-year-old-boy.

**In Theory**

Truth be told, I buy into it far more than I'd like to admit.  Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the line between expressing myself as a creative individualist, and being motivated by feeling "not good enough".  I am not opposed to dying hair (obviously) or buying fun clothes, painting nails, or even plastic surgery (especially to repair real damage done).  Those things can make us feel good; like we're taking care of ourselves; like we think we're worth it.  But when it's done because Susie is skinnier, blonder, richer... then it is degrading.  It's no longer about who I am as a person but who she is and who I am not.

Anyway, back to my butt.  As difficult as it is, I have made a determination to accept my maternal right to be soft right now.  Embrace it.  It requires forcing my mind in the opposite direction when the self-loathing sets in.  Retraining the grooves of thought.  

I do LOVE certain aspects of my roundness.  My belly mainly.  I think I have appreciated the gift of pregnancy so much more this time around since I never thought I'd be here again.  I love feeling him thump about.  I'm not as eager to get him out as I was with the others.  This time is so short and I'm so lucky to be given this miracle of an opportunity.  I love and accept my belly.  I will learn to love the rest of me as well.

Watch out, Barbie dolls, cause 
Baby Got Back!!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hooked; Midnight Musings

I have a tiny bathroom.  In my bathroom, I have one functional wall for hanging towels.  The owners of this home decided to equip this wall with some very respectable towel rods;  enough to hang two towels if you actually want them to dry.  
Rods are fine and they are also the accepted norm.  I have issue with them, however.  I believe, in most realistic circumstances, they fail their purpose.  They require people to neatly fold and then slide their towels between the wall and rod, being careful to avoid bunching.  

I hypothesize that most people do not do this.  My experience has been that, in general, the majority of the household performs some version of the above towel hanging procedure (on a good day), but only one member of the household actually follows through completely.  This renders said member very frustrated with the picking up of the mildewing, casualties of a failed system, and the delinquent members weary of the inevitable lectures which follow.

Now, I do not claim to have the perfect solution to this epidemic, but I have found a slightly better way.  Hooks.  I know you were hoping for something a little more ingenious, but it's midnight and hooks are all I've got.

Hooks are easy to use, allow for adequate ventilation of the towel, and, because of the elimination of the folding, tend to look nice.  The ease of use is HUGE.  It produces a much higher probability that the towels will be hung.  Everyone's life is easier.

But, I digress.

My original point was that my tiny bathroom came with rods but I prefer hooks.  Since I'm renting, I don't want to remove the rods to install hooks, so I designed a solution...
I used fabric scraps and utility hooks to transform a rod into a useful fixture!

Now, on the days that my kids actually manage to get their towels to the bathroom, the towels might actually be hung as opposed to wadded in heaps, or flung over the shower door.

** You can check out more of my nest (and insanity) by clicking the page link 'Belmont Cottage' at the top of the blog**

Friday, August 20, 2010

Evolution of Space

As you might recall, I recently pieced together a fabric sample wall art "head board" .  While I'm pleased with that phase of the project, the evolution of the space is still in process.  I'm not entirely content with the wall yet and the bed needs some dressing up. 

My duvet has been lying naked for a while because the bold red duvet cover (which was graciously given to me) made creating a combined master retreat/nursery difficult.  Whether you like it or not, baby boys get blue things; resistance may not be futile but it is frustrating none-the-less.  I want to make the space a place of peace for my adult self, while still embracing the coming baby dweller.

The other day, while searching my wallet for something important (which I can't remember), I found an old gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond.  Glee shot through me.  Free shopping - a girl's best friend.  I felt adequately armed with my new treasure AND the 20% off coupon which I'd received in the mail.  The search commenced.

I initially intended to keep the bed simple, maybe even white, so I gave that a go.  I liked the cloud effect, but the bed felt boring and disconnected from the space.

So, I took my 13-year-old daughter back with me to BB&B and we went a different route...
I actually loved this duvet cover.  It's colorful, bohemian and very soft.  BUT.  The yellow was a little too bright and the pattern a bit too contemporary for the vintage quilting in the room.  

I did like the eclectic quality though, so decided to pursue that further...
I'm feeling pretty good with this green and white number.  It's lacking in style on it's own, but with the butter bed skirt and deep turquoise pillows, it will work.  (The soft white blanket is actually intended as a barrier between the dogs and my bedding.  It works about 20% of the time, when they forget to dig themselves into my pillows.)

The empty frame on the wall is NOT a completed detail.  It is actually an old frame which used to house a painting of me as a little girl.  My grandparents had it commissioned many years ago.  When my grandmother went into an alzhiemer's care home, my grandfather gave me the painting. 

The frame is very in keeping with it's era (mid 70's).  It's gold and gaudy... and I kinda love it.  
My mother took this picture while I played in a park.
She made that outfit for me.

A while back the painting fell out of it, so I set the painting on a shelf and have been trying to decide how else to use the frame.  I don't mind it hanging over the bed, but not empty.  What to fill it with.....  hmmmm.  I'll get back to you on that. 

So this is the room as it stands now.  The leopard chair has to fit somewhere else in the house as I need that corner for my old rocking chair (given to me by my aunt when Kinsey was born).
Oliver standing at his post, protecting our home from the many squealing children running past my window.  He doesn't understand my lack of appreciation for his efforts.
** To see more evolution of my spaces, click on the page link, "Belmont Cottage" at the top of the blog**

Monday, August 16, 2010

Full Blown Nesting (Biscuit's Quilt!!)

My mom and I have made blankets for each one of my babies, so we used my recent visit to work together on Biscuit's quilt.  His was even more necessary than the others because he is using a mini crib which does not come with a plethora of cute crib bedding.  

As you know, I've been piecing through my piles of discontinued fabric samples from work.  I pulled several and took them with me on my trip.  I was also thrilled that my sister in law found and gave me a Wendy Belissimo leopard print crib sheet which I had given her years ago.  I was able to alter it to fit the mini crib mattress which left me with enough remaining fabric to use in the quilt.

After A LOT of deliberation, we came up with our favorite scraps and started putting the puzzle together.  Mom also bought me two complimentary fabrics and the minky dot fabric for the backing.  We had also stopped by Babies-R-Us where I had a gift card and bought two diaper stackers which were on clearance.  One I will use as intended.  The other I tore apart for parts.  Hence the elephant in the center of the quilt.

It took many hours to piece the strips together.  It was a challenge to sew the various textures to each other without puckering and sliding.  It was a good feeling when the face of the quilt was complete.

Then came the hand-tying and the edging.  The tying wasn't too difficult.  It did take some creativity since the quilt is not in uniform squares.  I had to be careful to tie it in a pattern which wouldn't look horrific on the back of the quilt.  

The edging was easy to decide on but I think I sewed it on three times before I was able to get it lined up right.  I had even ironed it into shape and pinned it closely all around.  It was just a real challenge with the varying textures and seams.  And mitering the corners was a pain in the ass.

It's not perfect, but there's charm in that.  All in all, I'm thrilled with the end result.
Here you can see the leopard sheet and minky dot backing.
I also bought green tulle to use for a crib skirt.  I'm excited about that.  I don't think I'll be using a bumper at all.

There is something so satisfying about setting baby's bed up.  Like, now he can come home.  All is well.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sleeping in My Bed Tonight

I just spent eight hours in a hot car with my three kids and a bunch of stuff.  

We made the journey back home today, after our two week friend/family-a-thon.  I would have driven the I-5 but was worried about Thelma making it over the Grapevine in the heat.  (We've decided to name the beater Thelma - kinda makes her special that way.)  For those of you who don't know, the Grapevine is a long stretch of the 5 freeway which goes up and over mountains to take you from L.A. to about 200 miles of desolation.  

Anyway, to avoid the possibility of a pregnant lady and three kids madly escaping a wagon inferno amidst endless fields of kindling, I opted to drive home via the 101 (always makes me hum,  "Ventura Highway, in the Summer time..").  I love driving the 101.  It's lined with all of my favorites: beaches, farms, quaint towns, vineyards...   Good for the soul.  Even the kids seemed soothed by it.

It shouldn't have taken eight hours to make the trip but Mama had to take lots of "potty breaks" (Grrrr), which inevitably resulted in Thelma-refueling, gum-buying, and seat-renegotiating.  Throw in traffic and collection of the dogs and a six hour trip was successfully extended to eight.

Still, my kids were fantastic.  I didn't have one frazzled-mom moment.  A notably amazing feat.

In truth, I was dreading today.  Not because of the drive, I actually love road trips; but because it means I have to go back to facing life... alone.  I know I'm not entirely alone, but somewhere over the years I drew into myself and abandoned that social butterfly I once was.  I'm sure there are great explanations for this, and I'm certain that my therapists are hard at work solving it for me.  In the mean time, I'm back home, alone, after two weeks of soaking in the love and support of time-tested friends and family.

***Long Sigh***

So, here I am.  These first few hours haven't been bad.  In fact, I was surprised by how good it felt to drive down the familiar streets of Pleasanton.  And stepping into our sweet little home was... nice.  The kids helped unload the car then bolted off to reconnect with the neighborhood gang.  I didn't mind.  They needed to run and yell a bit.  I opened the windows to let the cool breeze in, plugged in the chinese lanterns in the garden, loved on the pups, and did the preliminary sorting of the stuff.  Feels good to be here.  It's mine.  Ours.  Home.
A few visions from my Mom's garden...
If all dentist's chairs were in gardens I might have fewer cavities.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peter Gabriel and Anne Sexton

A lovely blend of poetic talent.  
Just wanted to share if you've never heard it before.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Excuse Me, While I Kiss the Sky...

I'm having one of those Monkey Mind mornings.  Hate those.  I could be sleeping in but I woke up for some unholy reason (probably to pee AGAIN) and now my mind is out of control.  It's rarely a good thing when this happens because the thoughts which hold me captive tend to involve me solving all of life's black holes.  Usually a futile activity, especially when the only other minds awake at this hour are those of the chickens.

The other disturbing element to monkey mind mornings (or nights, whichever) is the emotion which accompanies the pointless problem solving.  At this point in my life, that emotion is frequently anger salted with depression.  I find myself carrying on long one-sided dialogues with the people who have hurt me or judged me in ways that I feel are unfair.  I want to convince them that I am good.  That I bleed.  

Obviously, this is an unproductive waste of mental energy.  

When life isn't filled with so much trauma, these wakings can be positive.  I have been known to drive to Walmart at unmentionable hours to buy project supplies.  When I was pregnant with Kinsey I did just that, only to find I had not chosen a 24 hour store.  I waited impatiently in my car for the sun to rise so that I could buy what I needed to reface an old dresser for the nursery.  

I have to be careful when I get those odd-hour infusions of inspiration, however, because they are not always well thought out, or even sensical.  I can write profound monologues in my head, which seem to flow with such clarity, only to review them later to discover I wasn't the prodigy I had imagined myself to be.   It's humbling.

Regardless, here I am, spewing my morning genius all over you.  (And I'm laughing to myself because I just had brain melt and couldn't spell genius - wanted to spell it genious.)  So, possibly, I will read this later, after a nap and some medication, and be convicted to either delete this post or issue a long apology for it.  I am willing to take that risk because I am finding this a much better use of my mind than hosting the anger which was in charge for the first hour or so.

Of course, I like to offer my readers some inspiration (other than my afore mentioned wisdom), so I have chosen to include some photos of spaces or art that make me feel good.  Please enjoy...
Borrowed from Bella Maison
Little Crown Interiors
Thank you for sharing in my morning madness.
I must go nap now.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Papa Bear

Hello my blog friends.  I wanted to peek in and let you know that I am not neglecting you.  I am just on a friend/family-a-thon.  A bit of a pilgrimage to my homeland (Ventura County) as well.  

I would love for you to meet a VERY special man in my life...

This is my Grandfather, Herbert Wiles.

I was nervous seeing "Papa-bear".  We haven't spoken since my life has taken it's dramatic turn.  He is a patriarch of my conservative heritage, so, though I know him to be loving, I worried that I would only see disappointment in his eyes.  Not so.  He came right up to me, wrapped his arms around me tight and told me how much he loves me. 

Father figures have been blurry in my world.  They have not been a big source of warmth or acceptance.  His hug was such a contrast to that. Such good medicine.  

Thank you, Grandpa.
I wish we had more time.
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