Thursday, June 30, 2016

it's a wonderful time! Simply wuuunderful!

For the first time ever a patron, Double Turban Lady, who also happens to be one of my favorite patrons, told me I needed hurry up and have kids before it was too late.  

She looked simply incredulous when I told her how old I was. What if something happens to your man?  Don't you want a baby to remember him by?  

I tried to look just as incredulous.  Nope!  I have a garage full of his crap that's going to take the rest of my life to sort through.  More than enough to remember him by!  

Thankfully this stunned her into silence.  

Oddly enough a little later on I helped a grandma find parenting books that were specifically geared toward discipling a gifted five-year-old.  After finding a handful we went to locate the ones that my branch had on shelf.  While locating the books the five-year-old, who was most certainly present, laid down on the floor and spun around in circles pretending to be a helicopter.  At one point his grandma accidentally stepped on his hair and he very calmly and politely told her so.  

Then, as we were leaving the stacks the grandma asked if I had kids and thankfully when I said no she only said, well it's a lot of fun when you do.  I merrily said, yes fun times! 

The five year old, who was zigzagging along with us, enthusiastically hollered it's a wonderful time! Simply wuuunderful!  

I'm not sure there are any books for that kind of special.  And I think if you had 10,000 garages full of crap there's no comparison.  But twenty minutes of pure five-year-old happiness and helicopter shenanigans is plenty.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

picking out paint colors

Drywall has gone up!  At this very moment it is being mudded!

And we've also been picking out paint colors!  We just painted a bunch of drywall pieces and plan on taking them over to the house once the mudding is done.  

The living room, dining room, kitchen, stairwell and upstairs common area will be our ever faithful and most favorite color, Cavern by Martha Stewart.  Defunct yes since Martha Stewart colors are no more, but we have the magical code from the last time we used it (we've used it a lot).

It looks like this:

It's a brownish, purpley gray that's incredibly cozy and soft.  

Here are the rest of our choices:

The two hallways downstairs will both be a soft chocolate color.  

The master bedroom downstairs will be a rich blue.  We are leaning towards a gray color for master bath/closet/mudroom.  It's the gray closest to the two colors we originally picked for the master bath (which have maybe been vetoed already).  

Robert's office (which is the upstairs master suite) will be the exact same colors as the downstairs master suite.  The only difference is that he'll have the lovely brown tile, which is featured, and our master bath downstairs will have a gray rectangular tile.

The downstairs guest room will be a soft green, and the downstairs guest bath a green that is almost white.  It will have the same brown tile.

Both my office and the guest room upstairs will be a purpley/mauve gray.

And the upstairs guest bathroom will be white tile with the same soft chocolate color.

We chose navy for the front door, and this is what it looks like with the outside gray:

Friday, June 24, 2016

cornish hens and orange soda

I have seen many lists in returned library books - grocery, to-do and prayer lists.  Even a very pretty piece of paper listing reasons to break up with a boyfriend.  I think our lists reveal something about ourselves that nothing else does.    

I always get a kick out of these lists, and I have two really fun ones to share!

I like the juxtaposition of Cornish hens and orange soda in this list. Yum!

This list saves the best for last:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Step 4,082: Poking drywall through windows

Three trucks showed up to drop off drywall today.  Robert took a few awesome shots!

Here we have three trucks ready to deliver.  

This is the drywall being slipped in through the window of what will be our mudroom:

And here the drywall is being poked through the window of Robert's office.  Better his than mine!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

with healing there is always some stinging

I took an impromptu hike today.  Despite the flying stinging and biting bugs it was very cathartic.  I also did the full six miles even though it was 100 degrees.  

This is my faithful brown pack (courtesy of my mom, who took it on a handful of trips to South America), which perfectly holds two water bottles, a snack, book and journal. Or if I take the dogs, 50 kazillion poop bags and their water.  But it was much too hot for the girls today.  So the pack was all mine.  

It was a brisk hike for cathartic reasons, yes, but also because I was being eaten alive by all sorts of hateful flying things.  So I didn't expect to see any magic.  Two snakes, one a rattler, shot off the path into the woods and I was fine with that.  But then towards the end of the walk I saw this:

Anyone know what kind of birdy comes from this?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Big Tiny by Dee Williams

I laughed most of the way through The Big Tiny.  Dee Williams, a superhero of the tiny house movement, is a very funny and big-hearted lady. While at the doctor’s office waiting for one of her many appointments for her recently-diagnosed congestive heart failure, forty-one year-old Dee finds a magazine article about tiny-house designer Jay Shafer, and she’s instantly hooked. She knows immediately that she not only wants to downsize to a tiny house, but that she wants to build it. She flies to Iowa to meet Tiny House Man, as she affectionately refers to him, and sets the plan into motion.

This is so much more than a book about a tiny house and the woman who accidentally glues her hair to it during construction. This is about a woman who faints at the supermarket and wakes up in the hospital with the realization that she’s dying a bit faster than she thought. It’s also about the zany cast of lovable friends and family that her giant heart encompasses. And RooDee, her loyal, bed-stealing pooch, who faithfully follows Dee through her tiny house journey.

If you’re a fan of self-help literature you are likely familiar with the idea that if you are unhappy as an adult you should think about what your eight-year-old self desired and do exactly that. Most recently Gretchen Rubin talks about this in The Happiness Project (great read!) And if you’ve ever tried this method - if you’ve ever found your adult self gleefully riding your bicycle through puddles - you know that it yields amazing results. Simply, it works. Dee takes one look at the tiny house photo, which ‘reminds [her] of everything [she] wanted as an eight-year old,’ and sets out to build the hidey-spot she always dreamed of. She is also feeling the effects of the rat race as well, and is hopeful that having a smaller house with smaller responsibilities will give her more time to enjoy life so that she’s not doing crazy crap like panicking if she ‘actually called [her] mother or simply wished [she] had.’

There are plenty of mishaps along the way, as well as a surprising amount of community building when Dee starts constructing the tiny house in a friend’s driveway. People can’t help but stop and ask questions, offer to lift heavy things or ask if she can repair their own roof in exchange for some cedar shingles.

While building the tiny house and turning it into a home Dee is also learning to live with congestive heart failure. Rather than feeling sorry for her, however, you will be laughing wildly as she learns to sleep with a loud oxygen machine by first taking it outside and then leaving it in her friend’s garage with an extra-long tube attachment. And when a neighbor asks ‘what kind of machinery [Dee is] running so feverishly at night,’ and Dee doesn’t correct him when he guesses it‘s an air compressor for her nail gun, you will praise her strength.

Dee’s clever word play is a bit over the top but so is her outlook on life. So when she writes ‘that the moonlight is poking through a giant sphincter of black clouds,’ or that her previous house looked like ‘a boozy, broken-down prizefighter’ that was ‘squinting at the street, growling, ‘I could have been a contender’ every time someone walked by” I do not roll my eyes. Instead I laugh uproariously.

Dee’s corny gab and sitting-down-for-coffee-with-a-crazy-friend writing style is the gingerbread-cedar-shingles icing on this tiny house memoir. And the memoir itself, about Dee building a nest, plopping it down in a friend’s backyard, and embracing family and life is a perfect nod to asking your eight-year-old self what you most covet and going out there in your superhero undies and doing it.

Friday, June 17, 2016

a brawl of tacky proportions

Robert and I had scheduled to take a trip for a few days but the trip fell through.  It was definitely a good thing though!  We have been spending a lot of time picking out outdoor lighting, shopping for tile, discussing landscaping and organizing our paint chip samples into agreeable clumps depending on whether there's a chance we're ever going to open any of the doors in the house.  Apparently if a door opens between say the bedroom and bathroom and the two colors don't match there could be a brawl of tacky proportions and the possibility of damaging our eyes forever.    

And honestly Robert and I should know this.  In a house we lived in briefly there was a unanimous decision between us to paint the dining room red and the living room green even though they were right next to each other.  Needless to say the place gave me the creeps and we moved out right after the holiday season.  

While Robert and I have been doing all this legwork both the deck and the foam installation have been going in.  

It's tough to imagine that my clothes will be hanging in this spot someday.  

Robert took about a million pictures of the foam going in because, as you know, foam insulation is just so fascinating.

And I know this isn't a great shot of the deck...       

But while I was writing this I asked Robert if he had any deck pictures because I forgot to take any what with all the thrilling foam stuff going on. Robert didn't have any pictures so he took a screenshot using our kitty cam.  That's right folks.  
We have a kitty cam.  Robert's been running around, setting our cameras up, and the very first activity was of a beautiful cat doing its slinking around thing.  Other than that we have mostly been spying on the workers, and because Robert has no couth, he's even scared the bejeesus out them by saying hi a few times via the doorbell talky box thing. 

Hopefully I will soon have pictures of the leading contenders for paint and maybe a couple of those will be possibilities for the front door.  But let's give them a little time to cool off so they can get past their differences and get along so that Robert and I can keep our eyesight.    

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fairy Tale Girl and Martha's Vineyard, Isle of Dreams

The Fairy Tale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams must be read together.  The two books were originally meant to be one book, but Susan Branch’s life is so packed with living and inspiration that one book quickly became two very powerful volumes overflowing with growth, play, wisdom and a hefty dose of girl power.  Though the books are heavy they are equally adorable, easy to tuck into and get lost for hours in.  Susan Branch quickly becomes a sister within just a few pages and makes the reader feel like they are as much a part of her life as she is.

The Fairytale Girl is a more than just a memoir of the first 30 years of Susan Branch’s life.  Though her childhood is sprinkled throughout, The Fairytale Girl is very much Susan Branch’s journey of self-enlightenment, highlighting the very poignant and inspirational chrysalis years of her first marriage.  Though she discovers that she’s spending her life supporting her husband, she wisely doesn’t see this as a flaw in herself.  Instead she spins it into the realizationthat she likes taking care of others, most importantly cooking for others, and making a house a home.  In Fairytale Girl Susan is just beginning to embrace the part of herself that she’s really not that sure of or aware of yet, and is slowly, and rather beautifully, discovering that she wants to turn this gift over to herself and the world to enjoy rather than letting her first husband reap all the benefits.  Sure, it takes the brutal and heartbreaking realization that her husband will never be monogamous to push her in this direction.  But this new direction gives her wings.  And just as The Fairytale girl concludes the reader is left wondering, what will she do with these new wings?  Where will she fly?

To Martha’s Vineyard of course!  This is where Californian Susan Branch can enjoy the seasons, serenity and wildness of the island.  And through her storytelling, pictures and watercolor the reader flies right along with her, sharing her tears over the separation from her family and friends but delighting in her decision to stay on the island and buy a charming cottage just a few days after landing.  The cottage gives shape to Susan Branch’s emerging talents as a writer and artist.  She finds herself in the remnants of the previous owner - a 1950s white enamel gas stove, heaps of books and wild blueberries, and in the process of making it a home, she finds a home in herself. 

Imagine, after your lowest moment in life, that you flee to a place that you’ve always wanted to go.  Once you’re there you decide it’s where you belong.  While you are exploring this new place and your new self you are healing without even knowing it.  And you are growing.  And one day, during all of this healing and growth you meet the person that you always knew you were.  During a meditation class Susan’s teacher asked the class to “make a list of the things [they] didn’t like in [their] lives, and… rewrite the list and change the negatives into positives.”  Susan wanted to write a cookbook.  So she wrote, “I choose to write a cookbook.”  And that’s exactly what she did.  Sure, it didn’t happen with a snap of the fingers.  She worked endlessly for a year, testing out all of her recipes and once satisfied, decorating each recipe with watercolor, quotes and memories. 

But these two books are so much more than Susan’s memories of stretching her watercolor wings and using them to paint millions of sparkly pages to give to the world one book at a time.  Each book is packed with ordinary and happy moments like making the first Thanksgiving turkey and accidentally leaving the little baggie inside, twirling cats around on dishtowels, chumming with friends and collecting heart rocks and jingle shells on the beach.  You will chide yourself for reading too fast and excitedly and wisely flip back through the pages to examine your favorite pictures and artwork.  I spent much time examining Susan Branch’s first art studio and her wedding pictures in The Fairy Tale Girl.  And plenty of time absorbing all the homey cottage pictures and kitty watercolors in Martha’s Vineyard.  Perhaps it’s fair to say that I spent just as much time tracing the borders and pondering the artwork and pictures as I did reading these two books.  I truly believe Susan Branch’s journey into self and gifting that splendid self to the world will inspire your own personal growth and give you cause to celebrate your own colorful and vibrant wings.  I may never move to an island, cook more than toast, find myself needing her recipe for starting over or convince a cat to hop on a towel for a ride, but I know that my life is richer, my connection to others stronger and my own set of wings just a few pages thicker after reading Fairytale Girl and Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

jolly nerd swagger

Robert's birthday was yesterday so I gave him the embroidery piece I've been working on for him the past couple months.  After I made the rainbow zen piece Robert mentioned how much he would like to see one on a plain fabric.  So I enlisted the help of his cousin Rachel to pick out a dozen blue threads (his favorite color) and found a boring handsome piece of black fabric.  And I whipped up (very slowly) this:


It has been very tough hiding it from him.  I started carrying around a blanket that I could throw over it in case he popped in wherever I happened to be sewing.  Fortunately, because it wasn't an invisibility cloak, I never had to use it.  Over the past couple months I became hyper aware of every person entering the local coffee shop or break room at work.  I discovered that Robert's gait is equal parts assured old man and joyful toddler.  So pretty much anytime I caught a glimpse of anyone over 80 or under 3 I would do this duck and cover thing only to realize it wasn't him.    

So happy birthday to you, my playful and compassionate partner whose jolly nerd swagger is something I can now look forward to seeing again without having a heart attack ; ).

Friday, June 3, 2016

elephant & piggie, beetles, turtles and turning trash into art

This is part two of May's fantastic reads.  I know there are two Elephant & Piggie books on this list, but apparently I forgot to read one.  And also there is a brand new one.  So I had a great time with Elephant & Piggie this past month.

We are in a Book by Mo Willems

- I love all of the elephant & piggie books because they have thoughtful lessons that anyone can benefit from - aha moments that have the potential to radically alter your point of view - in this one elephant & piggie know that they are being read and how they interact with the reader is simply marvelous, insightful and clever. - As always their facial expressions are so exact and funny you will see yourself in them.

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

- Piggie goes on a thank-o-rama spree, trying to thank everyone who means something to her. - And Elephant is super worried she will forget someone important. - Awesome guest appearances from Willems' other books including Pigeon! Yes, THAT pigeon.

A Beetle is Shy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Illustrated by Sylvia Long

- amazing beetle facts like how the smallest beetle, the featherwing beetle, can fit through the eye of a needle and learning about the sneaky wasp beetle's clever disguise. - stunning, colorful illustrations like the startling transformation of the ladybug - Aston and Long have collaborated on other books.  
The only tragedy is trying to pick a favorite.

Follow the Moon Home by Philippe Cousteau and Illustrated by Meilo So

- this book proves that one person can make a difference. In this particular case a girl figures out that lights from houses on the beach are causing the baby turtles to walk away from the sea and die. The girl enlists the help of her classmates and the town and figures out a solution. - the illustrations are really soft, detailed and impactful. - In the back are some great resources and steps for becoming an activist.

Ada's Violin by Susan Hood and Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

- This remarkable story of a teacher creating musical instruments from trash is true and it will give you chills and fill you with inspiration. - Who knew a little ingenuity and trash could give kids the opportunity to see the world and help give back and build their community? - The illustrations weren't my cup of tea, but in the back is a picture of the kids and their real instruments. Totally blew me away. - For another brilliant look into turning trash into art check out the documentary Waste Land.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

mostly girl power but also embroidery too!

Because I have been dealing with some tennis elbow I took two weeks off from tennis in May. This gave me a bit more time to read.  And pretty much everything I read was awesome.  So this month's review will be in two parts.

Best Adult/Teen books I read in May:

The Joy of Stitching by Nina Granlund Sæther

- great ideas like embroidering a denim jacket, coin purse or tshirts - I loved several of the designs: a giraffe with heart spots and the trolley car were my favorites, and they'll be fun to put my own spin on them - I also really like the pieces with text and am inspired to play with text more after reading this

Ms. Marvel volumes 1-4 by Willow Wilson and a variety of illustrators (my favorite is Adiran Alphona)

- Kamala is super lovable and relatable. She's really insecure and wants to make her family happy, but she's also trying to figure out her identity, which may not be what her family wants. She has the kind of identifiable angst that keeps the reader connected and rooting for her. - I love how she discovers new things about her superpowers and who she is, how she starts out transforming into one of her idols, Carol Danvers, but later changes things up. - the artwork is exceptional. - The next volume comes out in July!

Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch

- This is Susan Branch's third (but really second) book in her memoir series. This book is about flourishing after her divorce and moving to Martha's Vineyard, figuring out who she really is and learning how to give her gift of painting (and doily mentality) to the world. - Once again, be prepared to be awed by the diary format, stunning watercolor, supreme introspection, wisdom and girl power. - I am writing a bigger review of this and will share it soon!