May 18, 2007

Yellow for Good Luck

Peony2_2Thank you to everyone who ordered things yesterday — thank you thank you! Warms my little heart, I tell you. I'm very grateful for your support. Every single order directly and absolutely allows me to continue to do what I love to do, so thank you, most sincerely. These flowers are for you.

Dishes1_2

I got some of my dishes out of the basement the other day, excited because it's eat-outside time again. I love dishes. I just do. I think they're so pretty and sweet. I almost never resist their charms when thrifting. These are from Goodwill and they are called Damsel by Royal China. There's tons of it on eBay. Last night my fortune cookie fortune actually said, "Focus in on the color yellow tomorrow for good luck!" Isn't that bizarre? I have never gotten a fortune that said anything about color, have you? Since today is the "tomorrow" of last night, I'll be on the lookout. Where should I go today, to focus in on yellow?

Dishes2

This dish is Jubilee, also by Royal China, also widely available. The tablecloth is several years old, from Anthropologie. The napkins are thrifted. The glass is one of the last two we own, I swear.

Dinner2 More Goodwill pottery, the big vase. To go with the little Mexican vases. It's quite shocking to me that those flowers came out of the fairly neglected rose bushes growing in the fairly neglected dirt of my front parkway. It's a true testament to Portland's remarkable ability to grow roses out of cracks in the sidewalk, I tell you. That pink one is Abraham Darby. It blooms first, among mine. Next will be Sharifa Asma, then Heritage (the first rose I ever grew, and I still love it best), and then the amazing amazing climbing Eden growing up the kitchen wall in back.

Dinner1 Can you tell I have a thing for big, pink, fluffy roses? I like peonies too, and I have ten of them. I got them when they were little shriveled up brown blobs, out of a box from Costco, and they all came up, and they all bloom regularly. No one is more shocked than I. Everything grows here. I don't have a clue what any of them are called, though. That hot pink one is always the first to come out. It all makes me want to host a dance, or something. If Bridget doesn't eat everything. She is about to try and take a huge bite out of this leaf. That's probably bad for her, right?

Dinner3I made Ina's Seafood Gratin from Barefoot Contessa at Home. I don't know why I made noodles with it instead of rice, but I just wasn't thinking. It was delicious.

Dinner4

Oh, dear me, it feels so good to get back outside. The weather has been gorgeous this week and I have been so happy. I've decided that this summer I am going to pull out my calendar and schedule lots of social events for myself, instead of just letting things happen, or not happen, as is often what happens. The summer passes me by, and I realize I didn't make an effort to wrangle the weekends into social shapes the way I really do so desire to do. This summer I will do better. You heard it here.

May 11, 2007

Sunny Green

Hallway1Oh, the door to the backyard, open at last. We do love that around here. Gonna take the weekend off to see a little sunshine, many zoo animals, and hopefully the undersides of some leaves as I lay on the hammock and try not to get attacked by blue jays.

Thank you for all the kind, interesting, funny, and just generally generous comments yesterday. They left me with an image of everyone actually squeezing their ways into photos this weekend, after rethinking the thing. I love that idea. Thank you xoxo.

May 01, 2007

Fearios

MorningThe weather has turned, cold and cloudy then rainy later. Nooo! I was so enjoying that sunshine.

Trying to get organized around here. I realize it's been almost a year since the studio last blew chunks and then recovered. I'm starting to hear rumblings in her stomach that are disturbing me. She's got problems. I'm afraid she's gonna lose her Cheerios and I am so not looking forward to that. I have too many things. Maybe if I didn't go to Goodwill every stinking day. That'd help. I keep trying to stuff the poor thing with more than she can handle. She's gonna get me for that, I can feel it.

April 30, 2007

The Best Day

Garden9

It happens without me knowing it, the best day. I only realize it when I'm traipsing, reluctantly, back into the house, at dusk, chilly and happy. "It" is the first real day of the "summer," the one where we clean up the yard for real-ish, get new cushions, plant geraniums, smooth out the gravel, start caring what the weather report says for the week.

Garden12

I found these little vases from Mexico at Goodwill on Friday morning. I think I'm going to do something sort of, I don't know, what is this look — Mediterranean, I guess. Kind of earthy and 70s-ish — less roses, more sage and oregano.

Garden8

The new Anthropologie catalogs are gorgeous, but my stuff for outdoors generally comes from K-mart, I must say. I usually get a little tablecloth and some new napkins to get started on my theme — $22 for these four naps and cloth. The dishes are the ones I got from cb2 last winter. We've broken most of our glasses in the dishwasher lately. They were too fragile for us, alas.

Garden10

Oh, the climbing hydrangea. One of my favorite plants. It clings without support. We have it in front and back. It's insanely green. Will probably pull the house down eventually, but, phooey. I like it.

Garden5

I do like me a little patch o' green grass, too.

Garden6

An area rug, made of sod.

Garden4And the lawn boy is a smokin' hottie. Damn. I like to just sit and observe him working.

Garden16

FOXY.

Garden3

Love this day. Love summer. Let it begin.

April 24, 2007

More From the Planet of Small Chairs and Cakes

Littlecakes

Well, I've got Andy's cold now. He's so generous with his germs, really. Thank you to anyone who has nominated this blog for the thinking blog award — that is so nice of you, thank you. I regret to say, however, that there will be no thinking around here for the next several days at least. There will, however, be lots of finger-pointing ("You, you did this to me!"), photographese ("My head feels like it's f/22 and 1/8 sec at ISO 1600"), and possibly season one of The Sopranos.

Yes, on the Planet of Small Chairs and Cakes, things are rather self-indulgent at the moment, but when aren't they, really. And now that Andy's back at work there is no one here to bring me things and make me Airborne cocktails or listen to me complain. Not fair. There was a small moment of payback-humor last night when Andy came home and I was on the phone. He immediately went into the kitchen and . . . drank some butternut squash pasta sauce out of the blender on the kitchen counter, thinking it was banana milkshake. It did look exactly like banana milkshake, a blender-full of which I'd made on Sunday afternoon — creamy pale yellow, with little flecks of black. Apparently, because his nose was still a little stuffed up, he couldn't smell that the stuff (the butternut squash sauce) was reeking of garlic and onion and flecked with dried sage, because he came out of the kitchen making the most hilarious face I've ever seen and said, "That's not banana milkshake!" So that was funny and provided me with a small moment of humor. There are only "small" moments of humor here on the PoSCCaC.

Littlecakes2 Small like the smallest paper chain in the world. The known world, anyway.

April 16, 2007

Oh So Lazy

Spring1

Sunny, though cold, much colder than it seems. Nevertheless, things poke their heads out with determination and hope. Andy came running in and said, "You should bring your camera outside! There's this amazing plant, all curled up!" I said, "Yeah, I think it's a fern." He said, "No! No! I don't think so, I've never seen anything like it! Come out and see!" I thought, "Oh my, a Gardening Miracle!"and put my shoes on. But when we got out there he said, "Oh yeah. It is a fern." He took this photo though. Very cool and, you know, I'll admit this periscope doesn't seem a likely way to turn into a leaf that has more in common with a feather than a cinnamon bun.

Spring3

Things are unfurling, as they do. This is taken from below the lilac standard. I love lilacs. They remind me of home. When I was a kid our house was painted white with dark evergreen-green trim (a color-combo that seems distinctly Midwestern to me, like hollyhocks in back alleys, fireflies, fish-frys) and had a row of ancient lilacs along the side, and a fat cushion of lily-of-the-valley by the side of the front stairs. One day my grandpa came and cut down a shrub that was over there, but he didn't take out the stump, which was only two inches in diameter, and sticking out of the ground about as far. I came home, saw it shrub-less and open, and jumped off the porch directly on to the little stump, totally wonking out my ankle. And the typical thing is that I distinctly remember looking right at the stump and thinking Just don't jump on that thing. Jeez. So uncoordinated.

Spring4

I require all readers of this blog to love the bleeding heart, FYI, in case you weren't aware.

Spring5

And yes, that's candytuft. Apparently very happy there, ya think? That's one plant, about three or four years old. It's at least two feet around. I believe Andy is of the opinion that it's a little too much of a good thing, frankly. Actually watching him weed, spread mulch, and deal with the new sod spot in the back was all too much of a good thing for me, personally. It wore me out and I had to go in and join Violet on the couch under the ripple.

Violet1

Violet2

Violet3

You thought I was joking about the cats and crochet, but I wasn't. It's just too good.

April 15, 2007

It's oh so quiet.

Fence1 Morning, early, and a bit of sun, finally. Everyone's upstairs sleeping but me. I love this hour or two. Soon, it'll be all barking and coffee grinding (second pot) and sod-laying. I guess sod-laying isn't that un-quiet, as far as lawn work tends to go in this neighborhood (the minute the sun comes out a million lawnmowers rev — Sylvia Townsend Warner wouldn't like it here). But I guess I always think, Well, everyone's excited. It's kind of nice to hear them buzzing about after all those quiet rainy months.

But not for a few more hours, please people.

April 04, 2007

Drops of Dreaminess

Hallway1

Wow, I did something other than crochet or cat-croon. I also found a space in our house that wasn't blue already. I saw this idea at the Purl Bee via Amy and Amanda and thought it was darling, and would be perfect in our sort of whimsical, patchworky downstairs hallway.

I ordered several Liberty cottons from Purl Patchwork. To me, there is no more beautiful fabric. I love calico lawn the way most people love chocolate. I don't love chocolate, but if I did, I would think that lawn, especially calico lawn, is like the truffle of the chocolate world — so luscious and wonderful it can only be consumed in nibbles. I cannot personally conceive of anything so wonderful as a whole dress in cotton lawn. (Though I had one once, one that I made in college, from fabric bought at a Amish fabric store in Kalona, Iowa. I sold the dress for $5 at my garage sale before I moved to Portland, along with about fifteen other of my homemade dresses. THAT WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA. I hardly ever let myself think about it. That dress in particular was so gorgeous. It was dark gray with lilac-colored flowers and felt like a summer nightgown. Actually, let's not think about it.)

Hallway5

I even went to the Liberty of London store once. It was in 1990, and November, early evening, and they were lighting the Christmas lights on Regent Street that night — I think there was a parade? It was the most beautiful thing. I never wanted to leave London, really. I weaved my way across the road to the Liberty store. I found a chair in the store on the second floor and just sat in it. For about half an hour. From the windows I could see the street and the lights. The fabric was so expensive, and I was living on Nanaimo bars and coffee as it was. I was 21. I didn't know anything about fabric other than JoAnn's and that amazing store in Kalona where we'd gone on a school field trip. I don't know what it was called or if it's still there. They had Liberty lawn, but didn't have electric light so after you bought your fabrics and took them outside, you would see that you'd actually bought gray instead of green. But it didn't matter. It was all so pretty.

Hallway3

These are scrapbook papers that I put in a bunch of inexpensive frames at the bottom of the stairs a few years ago. It was meant to be temporary — we've intended to do a bunch of little canvases, invite our friends over and set out paint, glitter, and glue and let them have at it, but I forgot to make that happen once I put these up. Maybe someday. There are a few more hallway pictures here, going further up the stairs. I like the hallway. Please don't ask me what color it is because I don't know. I don't really keep track of my paint colors. There is no particular paint that I like; I just get the urge and stop at the nearest paint store and pick out a chip. I rarely test or do the things you are supposed to do when painting, so believe me, you don't want my advice. And photos do make color look SO different. I wouldn't have believed it unless I saw my own paint colors in print and was shocked at the difference between the real thing and the printed thing.

Hallway4_2Thanks for the idea, Purl girls! They've created a lovely tutorial here. I didn't glue my fabrics in, just in case I wanted to change them out; I cut the edges of the bird print too soon, too. It clearly needs to be tightened, but there's almost nothing to grab and pull. Oh well, what can you do. I don't want to cut into any more of this precious stuff. I just want to hoard it, folded in precious, butterfly-wing-thin stacks.

March 24, 2007

Everything on the kitchen sink.

Fridge1

Spring cleaning. The fridge hadn't been touched in so long. But look at it now. Sigh! I'm so proud.

Cleanout1_2

I was on the phone twice while doing this and I can't remember who I was talking to who said that she is secretly hoping her freezer breaks so it will force her to clean it out and just start over. I could sympathize. There were things in there that had expired in August 2005. It takes an unnatural disaster or some serious motivation for me to make a fridge clean-out happen, apparently — why on earth would one do it unless forced??? This stuff didn't all get thrown out, don't worry! But it all had to come out before we could see what it was. We'd just kept pushing things backwards into the unit's chilly depths until nothing else fit. Doing a full-on clean-out is like embarking on an archaeological dig. As you go back, the layers of evidence get older and older, like a fossil record of our good culinary intentions, unrealized.

Fridge2

Spring-cleaning fever, I guess. It really wasn't that bad, actually. And we got some nice chicken soup out of it, once we discovered we actually had carrots, etc.

March 23, 2007

Kid and Kitty

Girlsparty

Did you know that one can crochet with a giant Shrinky-Dink ring on one's finger? I have proof. A second small granny square made by my apprentice and her assistant.

Girlsparty2_2

Make that "assistants" plural. All manner of critters, animate and in-, are interested.

Girlsparty5

And not so much.

Girlsparty8

Despite our better efforts.

Girlsparty9

Which cracks us up.

March 19, 2007

Spring Tangle

Tangle1_2

Beauty is exploding in the yard everywhere I look. The weekend was warm and wonderful, and we lazed around the neighborhood, dodging gnats and pulling weeds already. We live on a small block, only about nine families, and though we usually have a block party at the end of summer, someone decided to organize one for St. Patrick's Day, and it was a great way to start the season. We have really, really nice neighbors. I love watching the kids play four-square right in the middle of the road.

Tangle4_2

Last night at dusk we went for a walk through the quiet streets. It was kind of interesting because it was so quiet, so dark, but you could smell a million different things blooming, even if you couldn't see them. We've lived in this house for seven years now, in an average urban neighborhood, built for the most part in the 1920s. The nice thing about not moving every five years the way we used to is that there is a cumulative effect to the yard projects that get done. There was soooooo much that needed to be done — every inch of the property was covered in bark dust, and the previous owner had clearly yanked out dozens of plants that he took with him when he left. Little by little, we've turned things around, though we are not gardeners and are on a budget. But last year it started to feel to me like some of the perennial investments we'd made in past years were starting to pay off beautifully. This is a small weeping cheery, about fifteen feet away from the big pink plum I showed you last week.

Tangle6 Last year we worked hard on the back yard and covered it with gravel, and I am still beyond thrilled with it. It wintered-over very nicely, much better than the mud-pit it'd been in years before. It shouldn't be too hard to get it to come together this year — a few annuals, replacement herbs for the ones that didn't make it, a new crop of geraniums for the window boxes, not too much. I always want to get going too early. But it's only March. Amazing how spring fever hits that way, isn't it? Just when I think I won't care, I do again.

March 12, 2007

Fairy Tree (Frothy) and Other Colors of Spring

Spring6

Mmmmm. It's here. My favorite time of year!

Spring5 I love the dark and the light, together. Everything looks so pretty and fresh.

Spring2How can we possibly be expected to think straight, with things like this happening right in the front yard? Seriously. How very distracting!

My brain is frazzled with petals.

Tree2_1

February 24, 2007

Forced to Force It

Clematis1

I accidentally hacked off a big branch of my 'Nelly Moser' clematis yesterday when I was cleaning up the yard. I wonder if this will work.

Clematis3

January 26, 2007

Out There

Rhcover1 It's a bizarre experience, to see yourself and your stuff in print. I can't quite explain why, and I wouldn't understand it if someone was explaining it to me, about themselves. But I know that when it happens to me it feels dreamy — as in, that dream I have where I'm buck-naked on the subway, desperately grabbing at people's Tribunes to cover myself, while praying that the thing comes to a screeching, sparking stop so I can sprint out the doors and run straight off the . . . planet. In other words, I feel profoundly vulnerable and exposed, and thrilled, and a little bit scared, like I must only look at it through the little shutter of my fingers while my hand is covering my eyes. But I keep looking, trying to take it all in.

Rh2Today I must say, I'm pretty overwhelmed by this. If you've hung around here for a while, you may remember last fall when there were some photo shoots happening around the place and I was cleaning like a crazy person and chattering away about it all. This October afternoon in particular was pretty magical, and yesterday the results hit the stands (or at least some subscribers' mailboxes). This is the March 2007 issue of Romantic Homes magazine with an article about our house. I'm actually a little bit speechless. It's ten beautiful super-saturated pages long. It just kept going and going.

You never really know what these things are going to be; as the subject, you don't have a lot of control. Once you've said "yes," you pretty much have to let go, put yourself out there, and allow it all to be . . . interpreted, however it will. But it's never easy. It's always fraught. You sort of stand, pigeon-toed, off to the side while they do their thing, full of hope and pride and nerves, wringing your hands, crossing your fingers, pretending it doesn't really matter anyway, what anyone thinks. But when it comes out, it's impossible not to care, or feel emotional. I couldn't be more thrilled, or flattered, or nervous today if I tried. I'm thinking of having Andy take my blood-pressure. It's nice to have an R.N. around the house when your magazine article comes out.

Thanks for being here, you guys. My legs feel a little bit wobbly. If we pack really tightly into this subway car then I might be okay.

xoxox,
a

January 25, 2007

Ripple Effects

William11_1 Ripples. You'd think there wouldn't be much to blog about when one has done not much the past two weeks other than stack ripples up like years, but oh, you know I'll find a way. I was running late yesterday but took a few shots of the half-done ever-growing ripple blanket in action. I seriously think this is my all-time favorite thing I've made so far. I take it with me from room to room around the house, adding a few ripples wherever I go. I can hardly believe I'm saying that because of my little problem with putting things down half-finished. But no. Still going strong on this one.

William10This little puppers is William, a hound I bought from Kristina and gave to Andy for Christmas. I love the things Kristina makes — they always have such personality. Every once in a while when I'm having a bad day and I need a giggle, I think of that pig she made a million years ago whose head exploded? Oh god, just thinking about it makes me laugh — go look at it, seriously. And the way Kristina writes about her just CRACKS me up. This is one of my all-time favorite blog entries anywhere, and definitely one of my all-time favorite most-adorable pigs. But William is ours (er, Andy's) and we love him.

William12 This morning Andy said, "How come you didn't call that guy about the tool-and-die magazine job, anyway?" Many other people asked me this question in the comments the other day and all I can say is: Peeps, did you hear the part about it being a tool-and-die magazine? What even ARE tools and dies? I didn't call because I was horrified, and, worse, suspected the handwriting analysis was probably completely right. Now, in retrospect, I guess I can safely say, "Well obviously it would've been good experience, etc." But at the time I just saw myself wearing a hardhat, carrying a notebook around a factory in Berwyn, Illinois, eating a Lean Cuisine in a windowless lunchroom forever. At 24, I wanted to move to the mountains of western Montana with my boyfriend, and write short stories, and ride the vintage bicycle he gave me to the farmer's market to buy lupine and sunflowers, and get a kitten. I just didn't quite know it until the tool-and-die guy was handing me his card, when I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. So, we hit the road, and here we are. I'm not saying the things I do make any sense, but that's rarely stopped me.

William8 They say, when decorating, to, you know, just "use things that you love" and it'll all go together, etc. I was just looking at the colors in the blanket and the room and watching them show up here and there, a little bit here, a little bit there. I'm always trying to get the blue right, but the other colors do seem to . . . keep showing up. Which, I mean — maybe everyone's stash is like that? Is that how it just naturally works? That the stash blanket becomes the blanket that goes with everything, by virtue of its being made of everything?

William6 I was slightly surprised that even Andy didn't get why I didn't call the tool-and-die guy, but maybe he just wanted to hear me explain it. He and I are pretty much naturally simpatico on just about everything, except when it comes to interpretations of our long-shared past where we have great conversations that go like this:

"College was totally [insert adjective here]."
"No it wasn't."
"Yes it was."
"No it wasn't."
"Yes, it was!"
"No."
"Yes."
" . . . "
"YES IT WAS!!!!"

Or:

"She was always doing that."
"No she wasn't."
"Yes she was."
"No she wasn't."
"ARE YOU INSANE YES SHE WAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
" . . . "

You can see I always win these. I mean, it is the person who shouts the loudest and calls the other person "psycho" enough who wins, right?

Yes it is.

William7 I forgive him, I really do, for being wrong about so many of our common memories, where we were apparently in the same place, at the same time, with the same people, but, also, apparently, on different planets. Occasionally it does occur to me that it is only I who am on another planet. The Planet of Small Cute Chairs and Cakes.

Soon to officially replace Pluto, if things go according to my plan.

January 20, 2007

Friday Night, and Straight on 'til Morning

Dinner1_1Winter-twilight dinner table. Salad, spinach lasagna, carrots, and trifle TK.

Dinner6_2 An M. floristripibus for Sam. So cute you could eat it with a spoon (much like Sam).

I did wind up using the mini-marshmallows after all.

Dinner5_3 Kidding. They're weeny balls of fresh mozzarella.

Dinner7 Melissa's Black-Forest trifle: It really was that big and pretty.

After dinner I sat around happily drinking coffee like I was trying to pull an all-nighter. When I went up to bed I was wide awake. WIDE awake. My spouse, alas, was not. He was snoring in my ear. I watched The Bad Girls Club and Ace of Cakes. I read. I watched The Mexican. I decided to make a mental list of things I would suggest that any filmmaker include in his/her next movie:

  • Billy Crudup
  • Someone pretending to be someone else or something they're not (How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, Kindergarten Cop)
  • Someone from another time period (i.e.: past or future) pretending to be from the present but not wanting anyone to know he or she is from the past/future (13 Going on 30)
  • Someone hiding the existence of someone from someone else (Seems Like Old Times, Kiss Me Goodbye)
  • At least one scene where someone is doing laundry, alone, rethinking things (Reality Bites, About Last Night)
  • A flashback montage to poignant music (She's Having a Baby)
  • An apartment that has lots of moulding, glass-front cabinets, French doors, vintage furniture, and/or a greenhouse (Green Card)
  • High-tech espionage and karate kicks (The Bourne Identity)
  • A love triangle (My Best Friend's Wedding)
  • Karaoke (My Best Friend's Wedding)
  • Super-cute clothes (Funny Face), Paris (Le Divorce), or both (Amelie)
  • Talking animals (Babe)
  • Situation where someone finds out they're actually a princess in charge of a European country (The Princess Diaries)
  • Situation where someone is really a princess of a European country, pretending not to be (Roman Holiday)
  • A makeover (Can't Buy Me Love)

I knew it. I am a Tween. They shouldn't even let me have coffee.

ZZZzzzzzzz.

January 18, 2007

Reacquainted with Mrs. Pantry (and Finding Her Feeling a Bit Neglected)

Stripes1 Stripes and polka dots, pantry-style. This is the thrift rug (and Crocs) in our mud room/pantry. Ya gotta love it when you find these rugs at Goodwill for $1. Thanks for all the stripey-crochet love yesterday, but I owe it all to Jane (and Michelle and Cassi) because I probably wouldn't have been inspired to do it if I hadn't seen hers. And, holy, I hope I didn't imply that I did all that in one day. No no no. I started it on Friday night, so that was like . . . four very solid days. And I mean butt-barely-moving days. I mean I-ordered-a-pizza-and-had-it-delivered-directly-to-the-couch days. I'm fast but I ain't that fast, baby. Nevertheless, I'm going as fast as I can because I know my enthusiasms can be . . . furious but fast, like magnesium burning. Once I lose my mojo, I lose the entire blanket (literally), so it would be nice to finish before I fizzle with a whimper and the thing 5/8ths of the way done. And it doesn't look like we're going to get more snow anytime soon. . . . (Oh — and I keep forgetting to mention that I'm teaching a crochet class on the Cecily Cardi at Close Knit starting next week again. For those of you who have asked if I'm ever going to teach at night, the answer is, sadly, no. I just don't do very well past 6 p.m., alas. I know it's been hard for people to get away on Tuesday mornings, but I will probably continue to keep this as my schedule if I can. . . . Scroll way down that Close-Knit page for info on the class, and give Sally a call to sign up, if you're able. It's really fun.)

Stripes2 Cats: not too into the snow. Bridget and Violet took about four steps out onto the snow-covered porch, turned and ran back in, then proceeded to beat each other up all over the living room. Jeez. Not happy. I busied myself in the pantry, looking for things to make. I was on the phone with Blair all morning, and she told me that she'd been snowbound so long they were Googling things to bake with no butter and one egg (not much). That's all they had left. We were not much better off.

Stripes4 Though we do have a ginormous bottle of mini-marshmallows. Who doesn't. I settled, however, on turkey chili. What's a Snow Day without chili. Portland and especially Seattle is so over being excited about the snow. I'm still into it, though I'm having Melissa, Paul, and small Sam over for dinner tomorrow night so these roads need to get cleared pronto if I expect to haul out to the store and feed them something other than salad-roll wrappers and pumpkin butter. My street currently looks like someone emptied an enormous cooler of crushed ice all over it and the cars are still kind of crusted in. How do you guys feel about . . . elbow macaroni and Karo syrup, M?

Stripes3

January 13, 2007

Baby, It's Cold in Here!!!

Audrey3_3

Audrey1_4 Love. This. Doggie!!! Agh!

January 05, 2007

Insinkeration

Sink1 I write to you this morning as the proud new owner of an Insinkerator! Joy! I am the first person in my entire family to have a garbage disposal! Hurray for romantic Christmas presents! I could really tell we'd been married almost ten years when I was thrilled to open that box. Yay!

Sink2 And here it is, our first Insinkerated item, totally gratuitous (i.e.: we were not cooking, just throwing things down it for fun): the moldy shallot. Thanks for being here, friends. Who else, I say who else could I share this with but other appreciating bloggy peeps (many of whom, I am horrified to see, have had many, and much worse, plumbing problems — wow — I did not know — it was a lot like watching Judge Judy — I felt strangely better personally and yet sort of worse about the state of things-in-general after reading those comments/watching JJ. My favorite was from Helena: "We purchased the house new and over the years had a couple of water features showed up. We have a vaulted ceiling and came home from a party to find a waterfall. Our dear sheltie was calmly enjoying it from a sofa"). My favorite real-life line, though, had to be from the plumber himself who, being paid by the hour, said, "Well, I'm not great, but at least I'm slow."

Okay, darlings. I have GOT to get out of here today. Anywhere. Just . . . out. Bye.

And hey, the auction's up again! Double yay!

November 26, 2006

Tree-Trimming Day

Treetrimming2_1 I recommend starting with hot chocolate. Always start with hot chocolate.

Treetrimming1Ours comes from little kits we made as Christmas presents two years ago. I can tell you that the stuff holds up well. This tasted as good as could be. Not too sweet. Of course, you must add your own whip and sprinkles, yeah?

Treetrimming4A fire is nice, while you put the tree together. Or, rather, while you wait for someone else to put the tree together. Last year it started to fall over, fully loaded. Yeeeikes. But this year it's been repaired. Phew.

Treetrimming10Then the other stuff comes up from the basement. Wreathes. Made these, years ago now.

Treetrimming11And ornaments. Made the little felty frocks and skirts a few years ago too. Gosh, time flies. Someone from one of the old Ella Posie holiday bazaars made the little glittered dresses and mitts , but I can't remember her name. Cute though. And thank you to everyone who has been so kind, trying to help me find the Lucias I was wanting — I don't think I was able to get back to everyone individually yet. Unfortunately, they were almost $100 when I calculated the exchange from krona to dollars! Wow. So, I'm going to try and make my own version out of stuff from the regular store. But I really appreciate the info — thank you so much.

Treetrimming6Here's the snowman my mom made in 1970. I thought I had some others but I think they got divvied up between us girls. I showed my mom the magazine the other day and she couldn't believe it. She said these were a lot of work. Super-cute though. I love him. Enamel paint is so cool.

Treetrimming15 Treetrimming13

Treetrimming16Treetrimming20

Here are some of my other favorite ornaments. I have a lot vintage balls on my tree. I just like all different colors and I really like round shapes. We do a sort of candy-colored Christmas. Lots of red and pink, and of course silver.

Treetrimming19I also love having a fake tree. We got it about five years ago, and though it was kind of expensive, it is, in the long run, a lot cheaper than buying real ones every year. We also got it because we felt so sad seeing the dried up brown little tree out on the curb after Christmas. This one just gets back in its box until next year. I think she's pretty happy with us. She really likes getting dressed up. I do miss that live-pine smell, though. Must get a little clutch of branches somewhere.

I keep most of my decorating for Christmas to one room. Otherwise I get too overwhelmed and I don't like that. I use white fairy lights in several rooms as actual light sources year-round, anyway, so they're always a little bit festive. We also put most of our Christmas lights on remote-control thingies. You can get them at Kmart, or probably Target or something. It's really great — no bending over and fumbling with the plugs with tree branches poking you in the cheek. You actually stand across the room and point the thing, and click. Other lights we have on floor-pedal plug-ins that sit on the floor, so you just step on them. It's great.

Treetrimming18Another wreathe. From the party last year. That was a really fun night. I keep thinking I should have the girls over to the house to make some this year. When should we do that, girls? I still have a bunch of the styrofoam forms. It's a totally fun thing to do.

Treetrimming12Anyway, on to the mantle. The Sweatery Stockings get hung. Might have to make us some stripey ones. Those were my favorites.

Treetrimming7And the village goes up. It's my favorite, favorite thing. I absolutely love seeing them around the blogs — I know Blair's is up, and Claire's working on one, and Danny's is made of cards, anybody else? Here was mine last year. I have to put those snowflakes up still. Forgot about those. They all fell out of the ceiling last year, so I need to think about how to get them up. I think I had some batting snow drifts, too. To make all the hills and dales I stacked up a bunch of white foam blocks I had around, and then laid a bunch of lights underneath a double-layer of white linen (also had that around — wouldn't buy linen for something like this, but it has a nice texture).

Treetrimming8Most of these houses are vintage, including the church, found at an antique expo. But I think I might make another village this year myself. I love those little graham cracker houses in the new Martha. Man, those are adorable. I don't know what I'm going to do for my special project this year. Maybe that patchwork wool quilt I was talking about a few months ago. I don't know. Something.

Treetrimming9_1Ahhhh. What a great weekend. We always do our decorations right after Thanksgiving. I love love love love love love love it when Andy is home for four days in a row. It is so very difficult for him to get the actual holiday-days off; I am incredibly grateful that we got to spend this whole special weekend together. His presence makes everything bright to me, just . . . everything. This is Audrey waiting for him to come back into the room. That's just how I feel. He's at work today. Come back. Come home. It's nice here now.

November 19, 2006

Winter Morning

Wintermorning2Dark dark dark and a little bit of light. Violet sits on the table there every morning when I pour my coffee — can you see her back there? Audrey's at my feet waiting for her treat. It's the same, every single day, winter, spring, summer, and fall. Though in winter it's so dark. We get up before six, no matter the day, Sunday included.

TableclothOn Thursday, five and possibly six more people will be here for Thanksgiving. We usually do Thanksgiving and Christmas here at our place, and I love that. I've been a very, very indulgent Mrs. Paulson and ordered this tablecloth and matching napkins. Last year I asked for a solid white hotel tablecloth to fit the table when all the leaves are in it (thank you, dear mother-in-law). Since I have the same peeps for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I try to do different tables for each, so now I'll have two nice cloths. I find managing tablecloths very difficult. I think I'm supposed to have them cleaned and rolled on tubes? Washing them seems really difficult because they get so wrinkled and look terrible the next time you want to use them, and I don't want to spend two hours ironing a tablecloth the day of my party (which is when I usually remember that I need a tablecloth). This year I think I'll get everything cleaned afterward, and see if they'll roll them up for me. I found some really cute placemats at Kmart yesterday, but they're not on-line. They're Martha Stewart Everyday from the Winter Jubilee collection — just plain red with a little white folksy design across top and bottom — 40% off this weekend, so they were like $2.50 each or something (and I saw that Martha also has green and red pom-pom garlands there, too, if you don't wanna make them). I think that will all look pretty in the dining room.

IF YOU ARE RELATED TO ME BY MARRIAGE, CEASE READING NOW.

Okay. Last night I was looking around at Christmas decorations on Flickr and found exactly what I was looking for. Little Lucia and her attendants. I had thought I wouldn't be making gifts by hand this year, but then Andy and I cooked up a great idea for all of our family presents (which mostly involves him doing pretty much everything, phew — will tell you about that later) and I'd been wanting to do something special, too, for someone special who loves Santa Lucia day. So I'm going  to try to make the little dolls, somehow.

Lucia_1908_by_carl_larsson

This is Carl Larsson's painting of Lucia, 1908. I've always liked Lucia because she was an Italian girl (like me) embraced by Swedes (as I've been), and Santa Lucia is usually portrayed by the oldest daughter in the family (that's me!). Santa Lucia Day was celebrated at our college every year in the sweetest candlelit ceremony in the chapel. Everyone taking Swedish (it was one of the languages offered, so many people studied it) sang the song, in Swedish, but here is an English version. I love this. I especially like hearing it sung by a group of students or children:

The night goes with weighty step 'round yard and hearth, 'round earth. The sun's departure leaves the woods brooding. There in our dark house, appearing with lighted candles: Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

The night goes great and mute. Now one hears its wings in every silent room, murmuring as if from wings. Look at our threshold. There she stands, white-clad, with lights in her hair: Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia

The darkness shall soon depart from the earth's valleys; thus she speaks a wonderful word to us. The day shall rise anew from the rosy sky: Saint Lucia, Saint Lucia.

Woods brooding. Murmuring night wings. I need to start my dolls soon, so I can send them in time to get there for the day.

Do any of you celebrate Santa Lucia Day? If anyone is from Sweden and knows how to get a set of those little dolls, would you let me know? I would absolutely love to have them. Like, love love love. Did I say love?

November 07, 2006

How Sweet

Studio2_1 I didn't really tell anyone, but I did enter two photos of my studio in the Apartment Therapy Fall Colors Contest last month (and thank you to those of you who are regular AT readers who voted or commented! That was fun, wasn't it?). I am so excited this morning because I went over and looked (thanks for the head's up, too) and saw that I got an honorable mention from one of the judges, fabric and accessories designer Stephanie Waddell. I was so nervous about doing it in the first place because I wasn't sure if I could handle any mean comments or anything, but it was fine. And, jeez, Stephanie just said the nicest things. Gol. Thank you, Stephanie.

Valance I was feeling kind of blue this morning — this rain — but honestly, how sweet. How exciting! And we six honorable mentions get a present from Crate & Barrel. What is it gonna be? I can hardly stand it!

The studio has had its picture taken a lot lately, as you know. I took some myself and talked about the room back in May, and made a Flickr set here. I wish it was still clean like it was then, but that's okay. It's been a busy place lately, about to get busier. (And, FYI, the Posie web site update will probably happen next week so I can get some more Sock Corgs and Wool Roses made — and thank you to everyone who ordered postcards yesterday! These, too, will probably be available again on the web site when I do the update. I'm planning to send a newsletter out to my mailing list — the first in almost a year, I've been so bad about those — so I've got some work to get done real quick. I suddenly feel behind again.)

Oh, and this valance is made from a sheet!

Thank you everybody, Stephanie, Apartment Therapy!

November 06, 2006

The Weather Is Weird

Weather3It's strange outside. It's oddly warm, rainy, and there's gunk all over the ground — gooey leaves and slug bits and things I don't want to get too close to. It's rather like being inside a terrarium, or perhaps a turtle cage that no one's remembered to clean. It kind of smells that way, too, kind of funky, mulchy . . . overripe.

Yesterday I did nothing but eat Swedish pancakes with cinnamon sugar, watch movies (The Lake House, Addicted to Love, and of course On Thin Ice: The Tai Babilonia Story), and knit almost a whole sock. Man, I love to knit socks. This one is part of a whole pair I intend to finish for Andy for Christmas. There was a little earthquake last night, too. Just a 2.7, I guess, but the whole room shook, and Andy and I said, simultaneously, "Earthquake!" I don't like earthquakes. I know people take them pretty casually around here, on the West Coast, but they still freak me out.

Weather2I like the garden in the fall. It's really frowsy and rank, relaxed. After all the primping and fussing of spring and summer, the staking, the pruning, the mowing, the edging, the raking, the hopefulness and expectation, it seems like a relief to just let it all go for the next few months. Let that girl out of her eyeliner and push-up bra and into her sweatpants. Sigh.

See you at 2 this afternoon! I'm very excited about the postcards, as you know. I'm also slightly nervous because it's my first time putting a Paypal button right here on the blog. I think I've got it figured out, but if it's looking funky, just give me a minute, because you know I'm over here on this end scrambling to fix it.

October 31, 2006

Scary Hairy Barker

Pumpkin3Part of the reason that I'm never completely jazzed about Halloween is that for the last five years we've had Audrey, and Audrey doesn't really get the whole trick-or-treating thing. She normally goes absolutely berserker when the doorbell rings, on a normal day. And when it rings about fifty times in one night, you'd think (Pavlovianly speaking), that she would get weary of the barking, or at least get the idea that it . . . wasn't getting her anywhere, since no one actually ever comes in. But no. She barks. And barks. So much. Forget the Ghost Whisperer. I need the Dog Whisperer. I do not know how to train my dog.

I'm thinking of just putting a bowl of candy out on the porch, here by the pumpkins. . . .

October 12, 2006

The Experience, and the Thing

Photoshoot6Yesterday was very cool. I really liked it. It's strange how you can get to know people in one day, but as I look at this picture of Jamie-the-photographer and the Jacqueline-the-editor of Romantic Homes in my kitchen, I really miss these two! I miss you guys!!! That was fun. A big photo shoot is so long and so intense that by the end it's impossible not to feel like you've just hiked the Grand Canyon, swum the Channel, or made an entire Thanksgiving dinner together. There are moments when things are precarious and tense (the light just will not cooperate, it just won't), and there are always lovely, surprising triumphs (you look at the thumbnail and it is simply magical, so much better than it looks in real life, somehow). The light is one of the most important elements in the day, and it is fickle, teasing, restless — it never sits still for long, and while that heightens the tension it also brings the promise of an even more beautiful moment, in a few minutes, maybe. Maybe not. We are all at her mercy, in a way, so scoring big feels extra sweet and tinged with a kind of rosy grace. We look at the thumbnail and we go, "Ahhh!"

Photoshoot7 To answer the people who've asked, I honestly don't know how magazines find their locations; I expect that these editors just ran into me on-line somewhere and then called me. I've been so busy lately with all my various store closing/booth opening/creative bill paying projects, but when the phone rings with opportunities, no matter how busy I am, I really do try hard to reshuffle the deck and say yes to the ones that appeal to me or that I feel I can do a good job with. As I grow older (I'm not that old, but, you know, older than I was before, at least), I realize (over and over and over) that the point of the thing, any thing, is the experience of the thing, not just the end result. I guess that sounds pretty obvious. You probably already know it. But it wasn't obvious to me a few years ago when I was a book editor myself, for instance. I would get so focused on the book and so stressed out about it that I'd practically make myself and everyone else crazy. I would often grow to hate the experience, and then when the book came out, I'd actually be too busy working on the next one to even look at it. Can you imagine? I've lost sight of the "experience" many, many times since becoming self-employed, as well. I want to make good things, but I also want the experience of making the thing (whether it be a handbag, a meal, or a photo spread) to be, you know, a nice time for all of us. To actually be truly enjoying it while it's happening and not just getting through it, somehow. I've written about this before (BRS — Broken Record Syndrome, but as I said, slow learner, me) — here in May and here in June, about how things were for me in autumn 2005 (a hard time) — and I probably will again. It can't always be a nice time and everything, I know, but . . . doesn't hurt to try, right?

When I was in college, the chair of the English department, who was one of those phenomenal women who had been around forever and knew everything and also happened to be my advisor, had this little embroidered quote above her desk. It said, "There is no solution. Seek it lovingly." I used to look at it all the time. I thought it was the most bizarre thing. I seriously couldn't understand it. I thought it was illogical at best, or just plain confusing. I never forgot it, though. Makes perfect sense to me now. There is no solution. Seek it lovingly. Okay, trying.

Photoshoot4I'm so glad I said yes to this experience. I think it was one of the highlights of my year: I had a great time and I feel really honored by the photos they took. I saw most of them and I was thrilled. Our visions were so in synch, and that was very cool. I also feel that our missions, our theoretical missions, are the same: We are all interested in attempting to distill the soul, the real heart of what is special, even spiritual, about home and daily life. Sometimes it's hard to do that on deadline, etc! But that's what it takes. I felt the integrity of our intentions keenly. It was a wonderful feeling. Romantic Homes magazine has gone through a redesign recently, and I am very interested in watching it evolve and grow. It's exciting to be included in the endeavor. These are my kinda peeps. This article will be out in the March issue, hitting stands February 6.

And as promised, I'm now going out on the town, so Chez Paulson can enjoy her well-deserved little nap. Thank you, sweetie. I'm proud of you. Good girl.

October 10, 2006

Russet Light, and Some More Thoughts on Romance

Houseready1 I think we're ready. Romantic Homes comes this afternoon and all day tomorrow (and yes, loves, I will tell you when the mags come out when I actually know — February-Marchish, around there sometime) and I think things are okay here. I've cleaned and fussed to the best of my ability. The house seems small until you are washing and ironing every cafe curtain, dusting every picture frame, scrubbing stove knobs. It's amazing how much dust and dirt accumulates, isn't it? Things look so different when they're dusted, and polished. I'm always amazed.

Houseready3 The light in the house is interesting at this time of year. We have two enormous dark-purple-leaved trees and when the sun shines the light that manages to get inside is really pretty and rosy. This might be the last week we have this kind of weather, so it's nice timing, this pro picture-taking. The minute they're done shooting I'm going out to get pumpkins, sausage, and sage, and that kitchen is going to get messy, baby. Pumpkin-sauced rigatoni. Apple pie. Chicken with garlic potatoes. Can you stand it? I can hardly wait. Dutch oven, don't forget me, please. I think about you every day. We will be together soon. Right now I don't dare touch that stove (see above).

Houseready4 The pets are so cold. This is the B, alone in the guest room. They huddle up against me whenever they can. Unfortunately, I haven't done much sitting still, but I will after the weekend. Studio Craft is coming right up and I have nothing.  I used to do a lot of crafting at night, and lately I've just been sitting there like a zombie. It's okay; it's like being plugged into a charger. I'm charging up. Frenzy will soon follow.

Houseready6 Thank you for all of your super nice comments about the closet door, and the wool-quilt choices. That made me feel really good. I'm really excited about that quilt, and by the way, no, I didn't finish this one yet, but I will, later. The top's completely done, I just need to put it together, which I'll probably do in the spring so it's ready for the summer bed. I've decided that I want the stuff I do for myself to be totally fun, and not feel like a burden, something I have to finish on schedule. If I don't feel like doing it at a certain time, forget it — I'm not doing it just then. I've realized lately that "finishing" is not my priority when crafting anymore. I mean, I do want to finish stuff, but when it comes to the few things I do for myself, I don't want to stress about it. You've probably read it, but Amanda wrote a beautiful post about this kind of thing the other day and I just caught up with it last night. That 2% is where I want to be when it comes to my own stuff, and I need to be more willing to wait for it.

Houseready7 My little St. Teresa hangs inside the bedroom door. I see her everyday although I sometimes forget to see her. St. Teresa said that God withholds himself from no one who perseveres. Last night on Inside the Actors Studio, Robert Downey, Jr., one of my favorite actors, said that there's "really really really nothing that anybody can't survive, as long as they survive." Andy gave me a card once that said, "Fall down seven times, stand up eight." I like all these ideas, which I think are actually all the same idea. I try to remember it every day, especially when I don't know what I'm doing or why. I'm not actually having one of those days, but maybe you are, so I thought I'd just mention it, cause you never know who might need to hear. . . .

Houseready9 I guess the house is romantic, though that is embarrassing to say. I had to write a little something about the "romantic lifestyle" for the magazine recently and I said that ours is all about dimmer switches, and the little things. It's true for us, at least. We're not very exotic people. We are sweatpants people. I remember after my accident one time Andy said that he really didn't care what we did, as long as we were together. I know that I'd be happy living with him in a ditch, if necessary. But I'm more grateful than I can say that we have heat, and electricity, and some little things to fuss around with, and the time for it. It's what we like to do, dink around the house. People ask me all the time if Andy is alarmed at how much pink stuff we have. I always answer no, I don't think so. I think he is more than willing to indulge me, since messing about with stuff is something I absolutely love to do, something that's important to me, something that brings me a lot of peace. (Also, he himself is apparently unopinionated about stuff like this, so that's helpful — when I do ask his opinion, it's clear that he actually seems to have no opinion but feels he should contribute just to be helpful, so he'll throw something out there, which actually starts complicating things, since it quickly becomes evident that I have thought about, say, the color of the wall approximately 4000% more than he has [or anyone should, actually].) I think that, if he notices any of it at all, he just sees "care," not color. He just sees "Someone here cares." I should say I hope he sees that in me. And the living room is his favorite color, dark olive green, and holds his nice leather chair, and, you know, he has his own spaces to play with, too.

Houseready10_1 This is what I tell myself anyway. Let's not talk about it anymore or I might find out something horrible, like I'm wrong, and then what would I do!

I don't think I'm wrong, though.

October 07, 2006

My Patchwork-Wallpapered Closet Door

Closetdoor1I'm so psyched. This was easy. I've been talking about doing it for months, ever since I saw something similar in a British edition of Country Living (I think they reused the same images in an American issue later, but I'm not sure). Most of this wallpaper comes from my Original Fairy Godmother Pam Garrison, who sells packs of it on Etsy and will do again soon, she says (but you gotta be quick, darlings, because the stuff sells in about five seconds), and some of it is from sweet Tammy Gilley, and some of it is just mine. I cut all the rectangles with a rotary cutter while I was talking on the phone to my sister. It took about an hour; I just cut sizes totally randomly.

Closetdoor5 The door is our bedroom closet door. It's got a panel in it and is quite skinny. I had a big bottle of wallpaper paste and a cheap brush, and I just put the paste on the back of each piece (using an old cookie sheet to catch the drips) then slapped it on the door. I couldn't find the plastic scraper thing I bought to smooth it all out, so I used a pastry scraper. That was actually a little harsh — it ripped the paper, which becomes quite delicate when saturated by the paste. But it was okay. I just put the pieces up randomly, overlapping sometimes. Then I smoothed it all out. I tried not to get bubbles and stuff but I didn't try that hard, really; the pasting took about an hour, and then the very best part was that as soon as I was just totally ready to be done, I was done! Now, I ask you girls — how often does that happen? Not often enough. I'm always ready to be done when I'm actually only 5/8ths of the way done. This time I was 19/20ths done by the time I was ready to be done. It was great. I'm really happy with this. The wallpaper gets discolored with the paste, but don't worry — by the time I woke up this morning, everything was dry and it looked fine (though there are still some patches of discoloration, but I don't mind that; it just makes it look like it's been there longer than five minutes).

Closetdoor7This is my very first time putting any kind of wallpaper on a real wall. I was so nervous that this would be a difficult, messy project, but it seriously was a cinch. Oh wait, I just remembered that I did the linen closet doors a long time ago, but that wallpaper was new. I forgot about that. Anyway, these pieces are all vintage. I want to do the outside of the linen closet doors now, in something more mid-century mod patchwork, to match the hallway (which is more contemporary than the bedroom). I really had fun with this.

October 06, 2006

Heart on the Stairs

Heartonstairs2 It's just a heart-shaped rose petal on the front stairs, that's all. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Yesterday I was feeling like I was probably coming down with a sore throat — too much double-ended candle-burning — so I was going to take it easy, maybe get some groceries and maybe look out my kitchen window here (this is my little mobile with French postcards from Sarah and Shelly) and bake Alicat's casserole.

Kitchenwindowtour2(This kind of casserole is an old childhood favorite of Andy's, one that his mom once froze and put in a carry-on bag when she flew out to visit us from Chicago, and let me just say, that was one very heavy carry-on bag.) But did I do that, just shop and cook? Yes and no. Those and about 27 other things. Shouldn't have. My foot has been really bothering me lately, because I've been overdoing it. I realize two things about leaving the boutique this fall: 1) I've got no more enforced "sit-down" time and 2) I've become the worst correspondent/friend because I used to write email and call peeps when I was working. I haven't done either in months. I guess I need to work on these things again. AGAIN. I never, ever have it right. Anyway, bleh.

Well, after next week, things will slow down a lot, and there's no denying that. We have the photo shoots (R.H. will also be photographing my sis's place and Monticello) and then Andy's dad comes for a week (perhaps I should see how amenable he would be to carrying-on another casserole — kidding Sue! [I'll make the casserole — have him bring a stuffed pizza. KIDDING! I'm just kidding, I swear] ) and I'm just so looking forward to that visit, and hanging out. I hope we go somewhere good. Maybe Timberline? Or Sauvie Island? Or pumpkin picking? I hope the boys include me in something. I want to play, too.

I was telling Anna last night (see, I did write one email, at least, and have you ordered a copy of Crafter's Companion yet? No? Honey, go! We'll wait here for you . . . ) that when she moves back to the U.S. she must indeed take the train from Minneapolis to Portland. Besides the possibility of experiencing a Before Sunrise–moment, it's a great way to go — if you can splurge on a sleeper car. Coach is hell. I don't know if I've ever mentioned here that I am a pretty serious train traveler, because I'm afraid to fly. (Well, I've mostly gone from Chicago to Whitefish, Montana; or Seattle, or Eugene — that whole Empire Builder route.) If you want to know anything about what it's like to take the train, I'm your girl. It is my preferred method of travel. I've also taken it several times between Portland and Los Angeles. When Anna takes it out here, I think she should stop the Izaak Walton Inn in the middle of the Montana mountains and spend the night. My friend Martha (no relation to the Martha-Martha-Martha discussed below, and by the way, thank you for that discussion — I was totally interested in hearing everybody's really thoughtful takes on that) and I spent a few days in Glacier many years ago, and we stayed here. It was fantastic. This is one of my favorite places.

Oh, and Alicat, who is from Bozeman, also mentioned that the Bozeman police reports are indeed live and well. In fact, just yesterday "a person broke out the front window of a business on West Mendenhall Street, entered the building and pooped on the floor." I'm just sayin'. That's all. xoxoxoxoxxoxoxox love you, Montana. I really do.

October 03, 2006

Turtle Sundae

Pho_swtrbag_carmelstripe_lgGetting it together. Or trying. I've got so many different little projects happening all over the place I've kind of lost track. I need to regroup today, and see where things are. I wish I had more than seven sweater bags to put on the site, but there it is. I'm having trouble parting with these — what is up with that, that never happens to me. Doesn't this one look like a turtle sundae? Anyway, the bags will go up tomorrow afternoon, at 1:00 PST. I do not in any way expect a stampede or anything, but I have something to do tomorrow morning, and I do like to be here to babysit the web site after I update it because I always screw it up somehow and it's nice to get that first email from someone saying, "Er, I don't see anything there. . . ." right away, instead of four hours later when I get home, etc.

Okay. What else. STUDIO CRAFT. Surely you've heard elsewhere, but as I said, catching up here. Studio Craft is a November 4th trunk show that is being organized by that illustrious duo Sally (Shim + Sons) and Melissa (All Buttoned Up) and will include Abby (Abby Try Again — possibly my favorite blog name ever), Stephanie (Little Birds), Mariko (Superbuzzy), Blair (Wise Craft), Sumi (Sun + Stone), and moi. I'm really excited about this mostly because I like all of these people so very much and I can't believe I get to spend an entire day with them. What I want to do is set up my table and then leave it and go perch on everyone elses', chin in hand, and chat. But that would probably seriously bug them (especially if I were, actually, sitting on their table, the way I picture it). Really I actually think it would be fun to forget the crafts, put on velour sweats, and just hang out, too. But duty calls. I can't wait. I haven't participated in an event in a long time, and — well, you know how good these girls are at what they do. I think I might get all my holiday shopping done right there. Come see us, if you're in town.

Oh, and here's a photo of the big light again, from a bit further away. Just FYI, I looked it up on the internet and found that the bottom of a chandelier should hang between 30"–34" from the top of the table. This one is at 30", though it seems higher from this photo. And then we probably don't need to see this dining room ever again, I know. But you know we will anyway. I've got a lot more cooking to do this fall. It's the first day the sun hasn't been blazing down here in P-town. Maybe I can finally dig in and get some work done! C'mon rain! I need you!

Biglight2

October 02, 2006

First Fall Feast: French

Frenchdinner2Lookie lookie! Ooo la la, I'm so excited. You may remember this summer, when I wanted the dutch oven? You forgot? Well, I didn't. I'm pretty sure I've worked it into almost every conversation since July, and Saturday was the day. Oh joy. It was our first fall feast, and I was frenzied with excitement. It's just the most gorgeous pot I've ever seen.

Frenchdinner3I got Ina's Barefoot in Paris cookbook on Saturday, too. Now I have all four. I wasn't sure I would like the Paris one, having a rather unsophisticated palate as I do; I was wrong wrong wrong about that. Here follows one of the best dinners we've ever had, and I think every recipe came from B. in P. Aren't these sort of Frenchified ingredients so fancy and impressive? We needed shallots, fennel, parsnips, beets, raspberry vinegar, creme fraiche, morel mushrooms. These are not regularly part of the Paulson pantry. (And [cough] the morel mushrooms only will be again when we win the lottery . . . goodness me those are some pricey fungi.) Isn't fennel pretty? I love it, it and its little polka-dotted edge when sectioned.

Frenchdinner4There's something intensely satisfying about peeling and chopping root vegetables — that lovely thunking they make when they hit the baking sheet sounds so rewarding. Our menu: Potato-Fennel Gratin, Roasted Winter Vegetables, Roasted Beet Salad (er, yeah — Andy loves beets), Brussels Sprouts Lardons, and Chicken with Morels. It sounds like we should've invited over half the neighborhood, I know. But we halved everything except for the chicken, then pureed the veggies on Sunday afternoon for soup. (Please note that many of these recipes are available only for a limited time at the Food Network web site and are copyrighted so I won't post them here; just gotta get the book, trust me.)

Frenchdinner5The gratin. What's not to love. Nothing, absolutely nothing. xoxoxoxoxxoxox

Frenchdinner7Now, this big thing hanging from the ceiling? It's the ginormous pendant lamp I've also been talking about. Yes, we've been spending money around here like we have it, which we don't. Nevertheless, this is one of the best house purchases we've made — $69 from West Elm, includes cord, plugs into the wall instead of needing to be hard-wired, what's not to like. I really, really like it. I think it changes the whole scale of the room, and actually makes it feel like a dining room instead of a living room. My tip for adding romance to your whole life, and I am so totally not kidding about this? Dimmer switches. The ones that plug into the lamp then plug into the wall. I buy them en masse and use them on everything. I can't think of a lamp in the house that doesn't have one. Forget the roses, the champagne, all that stuff — bring me my dimmer switches and I will love you forever.

Frenchdinner9Now that is one beautiful pot (side view). Thank you Kitchen Kaboodle! (I got the last one like this, apparently.)

Frenchdinner10Let's just look at it one more time. Handsome handsome handsome. Please forgive the gloating. I can't help it.

Frenchdinner12_1I was glad that Andy'd come home with  fruit tarts in addition to groceries, because after all this cooking holy crap was I tired, too tired to make dessert. I was almost too tired to eat it. (Almost.) Warmed by the glow of it all, including every one of your very, very, very kind comments on the blogiversary post (thank you! [sniffle] ), I must say that at that moment, digging into this glorious little mountain, I would've chosen Paulson Place in Portland over Paris (or anywhere else, for that matter) a bobillion times over. Bien sur.

And, in response to questions: This is the 6.75-quart dutch oven in Dune. I thought a lot about which size to get and decided to go big, and oval. I don't remember what my reasons were, exactly, but . . . I like it just fine. :-)

September 27, 2006

More Blue, and Red Herrings

Nookshelf3A calendar would help me. I don't have a Blackberry, or a Dayrunner, or even a calendar that does anything other than hang on its little hook in the kitchen cabinet; when someone calls and says they are coming to town, we write it down, so we make it to the airport on time. I don't wear a watch, so I only vaguely ever know what time it is, though I am rarely and hate being late. I don't have a cell phone, so I keep my friends' phone numbers memorized, and routinely dial my mom's number when I mean to call my sis, and vice versa. All this usually works for me. But not lately. Lately, dates and times and things that need to happen by and on and at each are slipping through the cracks. It's possible that I need a little calendar. But where to find one in late September? And would I really even write things down beyond today, this frantic impulse, having had many a calendar in the past and throwing them away, unused, sometime in January when the new year's one comes along, oblivious to its pending irrelevancy?

Nookshelf2_1I got a new shelf in our bedroom a few weeks ago. This isn't it; both of these are old. The new one was in deep shadow this morning — it's a north-facing room. Just saying this reminds me of all the red herrings that keep cropping up in my life and making me laugh lately. Someone in my studio last week noticed a dollar bill on my bulletin board and said, "Oh, is that the first $1 you made with Posie?" And I said, "Oh, actually no, it's just a dollar bill that was lying on the floor while I was vacuuming and I didn't want to suck it up." Then at the photo shoot last week, the photographer's name was Laurie and the stylist's name was Barbara, and I kept calling Barbara "Laurie," but not because I was confusing her with the photographer; I was confusing her with someone else I knew a long time ago who looked just like her and whose name was Laurie. I know there were a few others, but I've told this before recently so these are the ones I remember, from that telling.

Nookshelf1This little dress is vintage, and homemade. Impeccably made. Her finishing details are gorgeous. Thrifting has replaced going to the fabric store and puttering for me. I found this at an estate sale a couple of months ago. I have other clothes made by this same lady at my antique booth, but I'm keeping this little frock. I couldn't resist, with the balloons and all. Speaking of dresses, did anyone catch Lauren Graham in her Duro dress on the Ellen Degeneres Show yesterday? I love her. Both of them, actually, but I really love Lauren Graham. She is such a spaz on talk shows, especially on Ellen where she seems to actually out-do even Ellen with that affected, stuttery "where am I?" sort of thing, but I always crack up anyway. When she said, "I love Matthew Perry," I about fell off the sofa. Why are Lauren Graham and Matthew Perry not married??? That would be brilliant. Yesterday was all about the Gilmore Girls. When Luke just walked away and got in the truck at the end I almost sobbed. I had to turn the TV off and sit in silence. It's very upsetting.

Nookshelf4I finally found a bit of time yesterday afternoon to catch up on blogs a little and saw Michelle's amazing crocheted blanket, which was inspired by this one over at Jane's, and which reminded me of this one I'd picked up just the day before at the Goodwill with the hanging body parts. I want to make one, too. It seems like the perfect project for using up the stash and not having to think too much. Nevermind that I've stalled out on this one, alas, but that is my special loser style. My room is so Cath Kidston–ified, I know (and I'm using this en-dash for you, Michelle, the person who taught me how to make one in html). That gingham doggie was made for me by my mom in the '70s. That calico cat is Bird-Killer Bridget.

September 21, 2006

Contain Yourself, Alicia.

Mess2 Mess1_2
"Mess is life, yadda yadda."

September 20, 2006

The Mess, Professionally Styled

RosesA stylist from Better Homes and Gardens Creative Home magazine was here yesterday, fixing up the studio for Thursday, when the photographer comes to take pictures of it for the spring '07 issue. She brought this gorgeous bunch of spray roses with her. I'm glad I checked to see if they needed a drink because there was something wrong with the container and it was leaking water all over the place. Poor babies! Got to them in time, though. I think they'll be okay.

The stylist and I worked on the studio all afternoon, mostly removing stuff from the room. Like, a lot of stuff — boxes of it. It's normally pretty densely packed. That was something I found interesting, and something I always wonder about when I look at magazines. Are the spaces really as austere in real-life use as they appear to be in the magazines? We "know" they're not. But it's nice to have confirmation: NOPE, they're not. At least, not mine, and apparently, not generally. Real-life stuff — envelopes, packing supplies, papers, any sort of extra clutter — it comes out. Then a whole bunch of cute, non-cluttery stuff also comes out — it just can't be too busy or nothing can be "seen." It's not that those people don't have those things in their life; those things are right outside the door of the room in about seven huge plastic boxes. We talked about it a lot and it was really interesting to hear how much moving and cleaning and clearing of stuff out happens before a photo shoot. For instance, in kitchens? They take out the glassware (transparent, doesn't photograph well) and replace it with dishes, china. Things that are too dark, black or brown? Those often come out. She showed me a few photos of other spaces that she had styled, and I asked her, Was that there? Was there something there that you took away? And the answers were usually no, and yes, respectively. Many things go, a few come. A few envelopes stay, suggesting a possible need to mail things. Just, interesting. Not that surprising, and still, a little surprising. We all do this when we take pictures of stuff, say things. I mean, unless your intention is to make something look crappy, or blabber away, editing is your friend. (I'm not saying my stuff doesn't look crappy or that I don't blabber away, mind you — just that it's not intentional. Unless it's like, now, the blabbering, which kind of is, just to illustrate, you get it though, etc. Nevermind. Moving on. [Like that. No one needs that.] )

I don't know what to feel about it, really. I'm a little conflicted, a little embarrassed (anyone who knows me in real life will pee in their pants laughing when they see how nicely my seven padded envelopes are now lined up, when in real life it generally looks like a hundred padded envelopes got mad, threw themselves at me, I batted at them with my forearms, then left them where they lay and walked away). I guess we want to be inspired and at the same time feel connected, like we can relate to the person who inhabits that life. After all, who doesn't have envelopes. It reminds me of that commercial where people are coming out of the church — bride, groom, and guests — and everyone looks totally disheveled, unkempt, like they just woke up (but the funny part is that they are all completely happy and not acting as if they are in any way disheveled). And then the voiceover says, "Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to care what you looked like? Unfortunately, you do, so there's Walgreen's" or whatever. Anyway, whenever I see that commercial I always crack up — because that juxtaposition, you can't help but picture what everyone would look like with their hair brushed — and I guess that's what happens to spaces that get photographed. They get their hair brushed. And cut. And colored. Highlights, at least. Maybe some eyeliner. We can't have them looking like they just got up. It's a special occasion, after all! And I must say that the room looks beautiful in its new, sparer state. DAMN ENVELOPES. Well, I couldn't mail anything to you if I didn't have envelopes.

Nevertheless, I couldn't helping thinking. An essay that changed my life is called "Prosaics: An Approach to the Humanities" by Gary Saul Morson. Morson is a lit professor at Northwestern, and I was introduced to this essay when I studied literary criticism in college in the late '80s. I carried my copy with me in a special folder of things I kept from school, and pulled it out again in graduate school in '95, when I hurled myself into The Brothers Karamazov with ardor. (Of course, my basement is a mess so I have no idea what I did with the article, but I think I'll go to the library today and get it. It's been a long time since I read it.) But, generally, Prosaics suggests that the stuff in the background, the mess and clutter of daily life (specifically as depicted in the Russian novel) is what counts. The things often overlooked, cloaked and rendered invisible in their very ordinariness — these are the most important things, the things that, collectively, are far more significant and consequential than the big, memorable moments. It's interesting, especially in terms of The B.K., for instance, where we know big things happen.

But this is something bloggers know already, or at least suspect is true, that the background is not insignificant. Oh no. It may even matter the most. The essay was sort of watershed for me at the time; it confirmed what I'd always thought, and changed how I would think about everything else. The blog is about the stuff, a little bit tidied; the Stuff is Everything. Or almost everything. Dr. Morson's probably sitting in his office in Evanston, looking at blogs and going, "See. Told ya. Somebody give me a raise. And somebody get me a TA [teaching assistant], too. This desk is a mess, man!"

September 16, 2006

In Rows

Kitchen8 Dear little kitchen, I have missed you so much. First you were painted, so you were all messed up with all your things all over the place so I couldn't get in you to make some dinner for days. Then I went to the beach and left you behind, and though the beach kitchen was adorable, still, it was not you. Then I started spending all my time with another girl named Booth and eating take-out for efficiency's sake, since we were on a deadline. But yesterday — wasn't yesterday fabulous, sweetie? It was just you and me (and of course Mrs. Violet Paulson, the windowsill percher), back together again. Serenity now.

Kitchen7 What a week. It felt not only busy but busily emotional. The stupefying specter of September 11 permeated, and I find I am no closer to understanding than I was on any other of its anniversaries. The hole seems gaping, and now possibly infected, in need of emergency treatment, antibiotics, though no one seems to know what sort of medicine to prescribe, how best to heal the ragged, oozing thing. Band-Aids. Even I know those won't work, and I know almost nothing. I wish I understood more. But even when I try to listen (the causes, the symptoms, the prognosis) I just get more confused and despairing. I don't want to be irresponsible, but I'm no doctor, and have no wish to be. Have no talent to be. I cry too much, too easily. Or so they tell me. What do we, the hospital visitors, the patients, do? I don't know. I stand in constant awe of and have the greatest reverence for the human spirit — both its tenacity and fragility — if nothing else. I wish to be moved, daily, by such examples of it, in even the smallest of ways, a small smile, if absolutely nothing else.

Kitchen1_3After September 11, 2001, I remember feeling chronically, sickeningly disorganized. I'll never forget it. The tremendous pain and sadness and sympathy and confusion that we were all collectively feeling sank like an black anvil on top of the obviously smaller though somehow even larger (to me) feeling that my ducks were not in a row, my beloved ducks were not only out crossing streets, flying in planes, working in high-rises, willy-nilly, by themselves, but scattered all over the house, equally beyond my reach — anything, at any time, could happen.

A big revelation to those of us who grew up in screwy families is the new idea that there are things within our control, and things that are not in our control. I didn't actually learn that until I was 30. What? I had figured, obviously, that everything, everything that happened to everyone, had something to do with me, something to do with something I wasn't doing right. Well . . . yeah. Something like that. (Still don't totally believe it's not true, but let's just say.)

After that day in 2001, I couldn't sleep. Everything felt messy, the world, the house, my life. I didn't know where things were. Drawers overflowed with junk. Closets exploded with textiles and piles of shoes. I hadn't a clue what was in the refrigerator, scavenged for meals as if I were swatting at tennis balls somehow — things fell off shelves and I cooked them, or rather we argued about who had to cook them, backhanding them into pots on the stove then onto our plates without much of a care. It had been this way for a long time. I had lived as if it were all temporary, somehow, or too much to handle. But it's not. The outside world is. Routinely. Too much to handle. It is what it is. I alternately engage with and protect myself from it, in effect. I'm not saying it's right. I'm no genius at modern living. I do the best I can. The inside world, these 1,900 square feet and the people and the stuff and all the things that happen within this little house — my ducks — you guys are getting in your rows whether you like it or not. You get in there, baby. Get. In. There. Right there. All in your places, with bright shiny faces. Now, you all know I love you, right? I know you do. Get back in there. Where are you go— . Okay, but just a little. That's enough, darling. (It's tough. They always want to come out. [Sigh.] )

September 13, 2006

Serenity Now

Newdiningroom1Okay, Lucinda, I know you were worried about my head blowing off, so these are for you. It's the Old Living/New New Dining Room, repainted. Here's how it looked Sunday. But this is how it looks now. Ahhhh. That's better.

Newdiningroom7It's gray, pale gray, though it looks a bit blue in these photos. I'm kind of excited to have a grown-up dining room. I've always looked at pictures in magazines of white-on-white rooms and longed for something similar, but I didn't think I had that kind of life. But, can't I? I think I can.

Newdiningroom4I was going to take pictures of the antique booth yesterday, but I forgot to bring the camera. The antique booth is covered in gray felt, too, but it is reading "pink, pink, pink." I'm okay with it. I think it looks really sweet and pretty and feminine and simple. I'll probably be back there today or tomorrow so I will photograph it soon. I think there's a big sale there this weekend, so if you've never been it might be a good time to go. I believe there are a bunch of special exhibitors, too. For this table, I got a piece of 48" round plywood cut and just put it on top of a little cafe table we had — the big oval that had been there was just too big and it begged to be pushed up against the wall. And I think my little tablecloth came out nice. I used tan linen and then made the long, long, long strips of ruffles out of a finer white linen. I didn't finish the edges, mostly out of laziness, but I'll say I was going for deconstructed. We'll see what happens to them when they're washed. Maybe they'll totally disintegrate, I don't know.

Newdiningroom3We have a lot of color in our house, so this is a nice counterpoint. This room is what the front door opens into, the first thing you see. It's kind of weird to walk into a dining room, but I think the table, over by the fireplace, looks pretty and inviting. I like the idea of eating dinner by the fire. I think it needs a few more modern pieces in it, like this pendant lamp maybe (I was going to do that whole Christmas-light chandelier but it felt a bit too fussy after all, since the room is a little on the precious side already) or these little pillows for the armchair (which is just to the left of the fireplace and is dark green). But I'm psyched to have somewhere to put these ivory scallopy dishes that my mom gave me for my birthday a few years ago. And that teapot up there, in the top picture? Marshalls, $9.99!

August 30, 2006

The Mental Block

Hi everyone. Woke up this morning to the sound of rain. Love that.

Thank you for all your help yesterday with the cord cover thing and the roses thing, and thank you for saying you liked the rooms. I don't really want to call an electrician to move the outlet — I don't care about it that much, just having a little painted cover would be better than big white cords hanging out and cheaper than doing surgery (the house is 1927, so I don't think it's drywall, but then again I only barely know what drywall is) — so I will follow up on those suggestions. I have this weird psychological block when it comes to doing things to the house, honestly, and believe me, it has absolutely nothing to do with preserving its historic integrity. It has everything to do with the fact that I am severely lacking in money, imagination, and know-how, or rather, the motivation to get the know-how. Part of me just doesn't want to know how.

Fan2 Some people look at houses and see all sorts of potential for change. Andy and I are both, unfortunately, useless not the world's greatest at thinking that way. About the most handymanish thing that I can get Andy to do is install a ceiling fan where a light fixture was, and then we both stand about twenty-five feet away with our arms folded over our heads when he flicks the switch to turn it on, utterly sure that it's going to blow right off the ceiling and decapitate someone. Every time it works I swear he is even more relieved and surprised than I am.

Fan3 So in answer to, who was it, Amber, who very rationally asked me why I didn't just plaster the roses on to the bricks, my answer is, "Exactly." Fabric, paint, nails, curtains, glue guns, pillows, whatever — those I understand. Those are my peeps. I'll change those every five or six minutes, faster than the human eye can detect. But saws, drills, screws, adhesives, wires, anything that has to be wired in, any holes that have to be cut in something — eeeeeyikes. Irrational fear. Blank stare. Quick calculation of checkbook balance to see whether someone can be hired. Mild feelings of panic when answer is "no." Nervous contemplation of hated toolbox.

Not me, Andy.

Kidding.

Kind of.

Sorry hun.

August 29, 2006

Going More Swedish

Diningroomxmas2 This past weekend I thought about paint a lot. Fall seems to be painting time around here, which makes sense, as we anticipate all the warm, cozy nesting that'll happen as soon as it starts raining. We spent all of Saturday morning at Miller Paint, getting new colors for the bathroom (aqua) and kitchen (gray), which haven't been painted in almost six years and are looking kind of yucky. This is the "dining" room, last Christmas. I say "dining" because it's really supposed to be a living room, but last year around this time we switched the living room into what should be the dining room, and put the dining room table (which we don't sit at very often) into the living room. It's a better arrangement — we have one of those front doors that opens directly into this room, with no real entry way or anything like that, so it was hard to arrange living room furniture, I thought. The only problem now is one of semantics, as in, "Where's Audrey?" "She's in the living, er — I mean the old living/new dining room , er — over there. C'mere Auds!"

Diningroomtgiving4 Here it is last Thanksgiving, with the table pulled out. I like the room, but now that I've lived with it for a year, I feel it is too dark, so I've been looking through every old issue of Domino, trying to figure out what would be better. What I like about Domino is that it really seems to show rooms that successfully combine both vintage and modern styles. What I'm thinking for this one is Swedish-ish: pale gray for the walls, and lots and lots of whites/neutrals (I have cream curtains in storage), and lots of modern accessories, to temper the fussiness. Like a really modern, simple hanging light fixture — a glob of unfussy white Christmas lights? I think I saw something somewhere that was like an embroidery hoop with lights wrapped around it and hanging down — swagged over the table. I think I'm also going to top that table with a 60" round piece of plywood and leave it more "in" the room, instead of plastered parallel to the wall, where it sort of functions as a big desk. The plywood and the paint are the only things I want to spend a dime on.

Diningroomtgiving3See those blobs on the fireplace? They're plaster roses that I hot-glued onto the bricks and then piped plaster vines and leaves around them. The roses were made with plaster of Paris put into plastic candy molds — I did this about five years ago and got the idea from the Christopher Lowell show, so I can't point you toward better directions. What I will say is do not use hot glue to put them up. These are never coming off, honestly. I think we'll have to ruin the brick to do it. So, cute idea but not very responsible. I don't have any other ideas for putting them up there but maybe someone else does.

The reason I don't like this color is that in real life it too-closely matches the color of this room, which is directly opposite and connected by a big arch:

Newlivingroom1The colors on the paint chips looked hugely different to me, but in the rooms the shadows on the light color are almost exactly the same as the highlights on the dark color and visually it looks like one long rectangle of the same shade. At a dinner party we went to on Saturday, our friends confessed to testing twenty-six different colors of white for their kitchen cabinets. And it was worth it, they said. Eeeeeyikes. That will never be me, alas — no patience. I'm more of a pick-it-in-the-paint-store-and-hope-for-the-best kinda girl. I definitely don't always get it right, but what can I say.

And also, something I've been meaning to ask, does anyone know if there's some kind of paint-able cord-cover thing, or conduit that I can get to deal with those white cords on the right side of the photo? For some reason, this plug is three feet up the wall.

Don't you just have to wonder: Who thought that was a good idea?

Hurry IKEA, hurry! (We're getting one in Portland — anyone know when?)

August 19, 2006

Blair, You Were Totally Right

It was a cinch at the shop, a cinch. I mean, we're only about halfway done but what we finished yesterday was nowhere near as treacherous as I thought it would be. It all comes down a lot easier than it went up. I am convinced it was all the pre-hissies I threw, the phantom ward-off-the-big-one hissies, that helped me avoid the total spaz out, too, so thank you, everyone, for indulging me. Hopefully, we'll finish everything today-ish. Man, I'm so relieved. I was worried. You saw that.

Pizza1I came home to niece-and-uncle made pizza and a last-one-before-school-starts-niece sleepover. And much flour all over the counter. But it felt right to me, since that's sort of how the store looks right now — stuff, everywhere but in the bowl. I showed her her new dress and her eyes literally lit up. God, I love that girl.

Pizzabowl At about 8:30 p.m., as the three of us were finishing up our favorite fantasy-farm movie, Babe, the doorbell rang and it was another sleepover guest: Andy's friend Ken from high school, unexpectedly swinging through town on his way to skateboard at the beach. I love having skaters as houseguests — they're used to using their dogs as pillows and sleeping on the floor. You give them some 100% cotton sheets, the downstairs hide-a-bed, and a slice of French toast in the morning and they are psyched. Or possibly Ken is just the absolute nicest guy on earth. I think it's the latter. Please come back again soon, Ken. No reservation necessary. We're always here.

Pizza3_2

August 13, 2006

On Vacation, Close to Home

Appletatin3Arranging apples is fun. Arranging anything in nice, neat rows like this is pleasing to me, actually. Covering them with boiling hot caramel? Also fun, and a little scary. Making caramel is not that difficult; you just need to keep your eye on it. Both eyes, actually. It bubbles like mad and looks volatile and potentially troubling, which no doubt it is, if spilled.

Appletatin6For Ina's Apple Cake Tatin, you pour the caramel over the apples, then make a thick vanilla-y/sour-cream cake batter to spread on top. Then you bake it and turn the whole thing out after it's cooled a bit, and give it a sprinkle of powdered sugar. It tasted really good. I would definitely make this again. Aren't Andy's mom's pretty, tan feet (in the background) cute?

HouseboatHouseboats are pretty cool. I don't know if I'd like to live on one all the time, but wouldn't it be fun to have a little cottageboat for the weekends? You could paint it in cute colors (I thought red with white trim, Andy's mom said brown with turquoise, and Andy would let his "be all wooden, like cedar") and plant window boxes spilling with petunias, sit on your porch in the evening and catch a fish or two.

Houseboat2The sun came out yesterday afternoon and broiled us on the deck at the party. So much for that fall-like weather, blah blah — it's back to summertime! Houseboats are not normally surrounded by big trees the way houses in town are, so there isn't much shade. But they are so cute, all lined up like that, a little street of houseboats.

DaisybbqWe came home and Andy barbecued ribs for us. We have been cooking a lot this week (which, for us, requires going to two separate grocery stores about four times a day, and I don't mean that in a good way, I mean it in the "No shredded cabbage??? Dangit!" way), and enjoying the amazing weather in the evening. The daisy dishes came out, too. I got some canning jars at Goodwill the other day so that my candles in their little tin jello molds don't blow out, the way they usually do. The gingham cloth is also a piece of fabric from Goodwill, mostly polyester, which is always nice for barbecue-sauce spills and sticky fingers. I was up for a candle-lit game of Uno afterward, but, strangely, the two people who weren't winning didn't feel like playing. . . . What's up with that?

Daisybbq2

August 11, 2006

Lounging Around

Quiltchair_1 Kitty2Perfect weather, thrifted quilt, finished book, lots of crochet, barbecued pork, happy pets, good company, great movie, more of the same planned, though today we'll be near water and looking forward to a campfire tonight. Ah, late summer. Squeezing every golden drop.

August 07, 2006

The Backyard Redux

OldyardSo I was looking around the backyard this weekend as we straightened things up for Andy's mom's visit, and I thought I'd post the "before" and "after" photos for anyone who might be considering covering their yard in gravel the way we did. I can't tell you how happy I am with this solution to our problems growing grass in the backyard (we couldn't). If you are at all thinking about doing something similar but are nervous, the way I was, these are for you. I would so do this again (er, I mean I would so have someone do this for me again) in a heartbeat. This photo, above, is from April 21, and it was taken the morning the project started.

Yard1_1This is how the yard looked this weekend. Andy did such a good job on everything. I just couldn't be more pleased. The amount of time we've spent out here this summer has increased exponentially since the gravel arrived.

Yard2_1Andy said that it really wasn't that hard. I think he did it over two weekends. He took away the old, too-small deck and rented a machine to remove the top layer of grass stuff (I think it's actually called a sod remover or something). Then I think there was another machine that rolled over everything and made it flat. Then there was a layer of 1/2-inch crushed gravel that got packed in. Then on top of that went the "pretty" gravel (pea gravel). I might have this wrong but I'll ask him and amend this if anyone is interested in how he did it.

Yard3_2So all there really is to take care of, then, is the little rectangle of grass, which is in the spot where the only nice grass really grew, and the tiny herb garden off the kitchen. Everything else is in pots: lavender, sage, oreganos, stuff like that that is easy to maintain and just sort of billows out nicely. I used that Soil Moist stuff in all the pots and only water them about once a week. A leaf blower, though loud and obnoxious, sucks up all the leaves pretty quickly once a week or so.

Yard4_2Saturday nights continue to be make-fancy-dinner nights, though I've gotten so lazy about inviting people over. This weekend it was Ina's spaghetti and meatballs, which I really liked. And like a true Italian, I eschew glopped-on sauce — give me about a tablespoon and a half and I'm happy. My father used to always tease me about eating spaghetti straight out of the box, too — I like it very, very al dente. I don't know if most Italian-American families are like this, but we are not too into most of what passes for Italian food in restaurants. My mother is an amazing cook, and though she is not Italian herself, she learned most of her recipes from my dad's Italian mom. I don't know that my mom ever had a cookbook, actually. She has a box of recipes, but no cookbooks, except for those holiday cookie ones that come out at the grocery store every year. Grandma had neither recipe box nor books — her repertoire was entirely in her head, alas. Usually, when I make spaghetti and meatballs, or what we just refer to as "sauce" in our family, I follow my mom's (and I guess my grandma's) very simple recipe and it is amazing, though Sauce must cook for several hours and contains short ribs, which can sometimes be hard to find.

Yard7_1But this weekend I felt like trying Ina's and I must say that it was great — and actually didn't taste all that different from my mom's/grandma's. The thing about Ina's recipes is that they really do make enormous amounts. Like the chocolate mousse that followed. We are pigs but hers are not often recipes suited for just two. And inevitably, every time I try to split a recipe in half while making it, I wind up not being able to do simple math, halving some ingredients and throwing in whole amounts of others, basically ruining the whole thing; so now I just make the whole thing. These meatballs got popped in the freezer.

Yard5_2Chocolate mousse is not that quick to make, I must say. There was the melting of the chocolate, then separating eight eggs, then beating the yolks and sugar, then washing the bowl, then beating the egg whites (which I overbeat, and I assume this is why the mousse was sort of grainy), then beating the whipped cream, then getting it all folded. It was really good but it took a long time, so if you are intent on making this for dinner, I might start it the morning of.

Yard6_1Because then you'll be able to spend more lovely evening time in your backyard, eating it, instead of in the hot kitchen. I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Thanks for all your sweet and funny comments recently. We laughed so hard at the ones about moving and couples thrifting. Always so nice to know we're in good company.

August 06, 2006

Couples Thrifting

So, okay. In case you've forgotten that it was Andy Paulson who invented going to Goodwill, thrifters of Portland need have no fear that he is out there scooping up the good stuff. Really. Yesterday, after we got home from several estate sales and Andy came out of the bathroom wearing a Chewbaca mask (and no I don't know how to spell Chewbaca and I'm a little bit proud that I don't so I'm not even going to look it up) on his head, I had this flash of Jack and Stephanie estate-saling together, happily turning up Eames chairs and French clogs (I don't know if they do this, but they do in my mind, and they're also holding hands), while Andy and I walk out with Chewbaca heads, completely disgusting wigs, six-foot-long bolts of fake fur, cracked aquariums, and Michael Jackson's Thriller. I've mentioned before that Andy and I have distinctly separate ideas about what we think is "cool" when thrifting.

AndydrivingHere's Andy circa 1989 or so. Wow. Here's me, around the same time. How? you might wonder, as did many other people, when they found out we were together. (Note excellent bone structure beneath the sideburns. . . . ) When I first started dating him, he lived in a house with a bunch of guys and had almost the entire second floor of the bungalow to himself. It was the foulest assortment of things you've ever seen in your life: a collection of truly scary mannequin heads (the "Hall of Heads"), a photo series of every one of their friends lighting cigarettes, an industrial fan (the "swamp cooler") at the end of Andy's mattress which one night almost sucked him along with his Star Wars sheets into its vortex while he slept, three couches (not one of which had all its cushions).

Andysroom I don't even remember what else was in there. This is a picture of it. Every time I went up there I wondered again how on earth things worked between us; my college house was a darling little cottage where I lived with my two best friends. We sewed patchwork quilts, made no-knead bread and served vegetarian chili with raisins in hand-thrown bowls, lit beeswax candles at dinner, played Joni Mitchell, read art history, grew basil on the porch, batik-ed things. Occasionally we'd invite the boys over and it would get so loud the cops would show up. I never actually saw the cops because I was hiding in the bathroom, quaking with terror that someone would be thrown in jail. I was sure that any minute someone would be thrown in the clink whenever those guys were around, though I am a known worrier when it comes to such infractions.

Garage3Anyway, date we did, and later move to Montana together (to which Andy carried, in his truck, an enormous collection of big rocks), and later marry and buy a little house. One part of the house that rarely, if ever, has been mentioned on this blog is the garage, pictured above. It is one of three Andy-centric domains: the basement, the upstairs "closet," and the garage.

Garage6_1 Andy has turned most of it into a recording studio where he works on his music and movies, and I must say — it's rather cool. Everything in it is thrifted, including his giant collection of instruments, all of which he has taught himself to "play." I'm not really sure exactly what he intends to do with another enormous cracked aquarium, but I stay out of it. Here he is this morning in his boat shoes, plugging something in, though I think the picture is hilarious because it actually looks like he's launching himself over the desk. As I'm writing this, he just came out and said, "Do you want a picture of my stuff? My suitcases? My grinder?"

Grinder?

As I said, I stay out of it. I get the rest of the house. I'd say that's a good deal.

July 31, 2006

Flowers in the Vase that I Bought Today

Flowers2Saturday, really. Liked that CSN&Y reference tho. Took the weekend off — ahhh. We puttered around estate saling, buying blooms at that little house by the creek near Reed College, across from the farm stand. The lady cuts flowers from her garden and bundles them up in buckets, and leaves them out on the driveway next to a box where you put $3. I couldn't resist. That's cottage industry, and I adore that house, every time I drive by. The pitcher was already in the car, coming back from an estate sale, and it all matched my little crochet-hook case in a way that inspired me to get out some yarn and relax. Ahhh. Nice weekend. Hope yours was, too.

Gorgeous sunflower photos over at Jenny's today. She's in Italy. Just go see. Dreamy.

July 27, 2006

More California Pottery

China1Square cups are cute. I got all this, along with the creamer and sugar bowl, for $7 at a garage sale last weekend. It's Weil Ware, made in California sometime between 1930 and 1950, and from what I can tell this pattern is called "Rose" in green. The guy who was selling it told me he bought it because he was going to crack it all up and make a mosaic. My dramatic gasp made everyone at the garage sale look up in surprise. "Noooooo!" said I, clutching the stuff to my chest and forcing the money on him before he changed his mind.

China6I don't know too much about Weil Ware but I like all of it that I've seen (except for the bamboo — I don't really like bamboo anything). I'd gotten this little snack set earlier this month at an antique store, and since there are several different patterns from this company that would all coordinate, I'm thinking about looking for at least three more snack sets, in different patterns. They'd make cute dessert-serving stuff. If I had more room, I'd probably collect china. I just love it. I might already be collecting it, in fact. It and Asian groceries with good packaging. Though the fish bouillon, soybean drink, and chrysanthemum beverage are cheaper, at least, and not as heavy.

July 25, 2006

Carnation Curtains

Curtains3

Okay, y'all really are scaring me with your scary dollhouse advice. It was much as I feared — people actually saying, "Don't do it!" Egads. I ask you, plaintively, where was this outcry when I was all naive and "Yay! Me and my dollhouse!"? Well, that's alright. It reminded me of this one story that my husband's grandma told us a long time ago. At her retirement home, she had a friend, Mabel, who needed to have her gums scraped. (Now, I don't know exactly what that involves but I assume it's very literal, and, much as it sounds, not very nice.) Mabel was apparently quite worried about this. So the dentist asked Ruth (Andy's grandma), who'd had her own gums scraped with no great drama, to reassure Mabel and tell her what a cinch getting one's gum's scraped really is. Easy peasy. So, as Ruth told it, she immediately went off and found Mabel, who was reportedly quaking with anxiety in her rocker, and said, "Oh! It's terrible! It hurt so bad! They scraped and scraped and scraped! I thought it would never end!"

I will never forget when she told this story. It was one of the few times I'd met Ruth and I was sitting on the carpet, absolutely wide-eyed, looking up at her while she told it, thinking, "That is the cheekiest thing I've ever heard in my life!" Ruth was giggling and giggling at her own naughtiness. She had to be in her mid-80s at the time. This is the same Ruth who, at our wedding, when someone said to her, "My, Ruth, what a wonderful day you must be having, seeing your grandson get married!" replied, "Oh, yes: Get in the car, get out of the car. Get in the pew, get out of the pew." Too funny. She also called me "Maleesha" pretty much every time she referred to me, which wasn't often, but enough to make me bubble with laughter now, whenever I think of it.

Anyway, I know it couldn't really be true that decorating a real house could be easier than building a dollhouse, but I must say that late in the afternoon, when my new vintage curtains arrived, I was much relieved to have regular-sized stuff to play with again. Thanks, Autum! Autum sent me a heads-up a couple of weeks ago when she spotted these pretty cafe curtains on Ebay and told me about them. I ordered them pronto (so love the "buy it now" buttons instead of going through the whole auction thing, etc.) and am thrilled with them, absolutely thrilled. Fighting off the temptation to cut them up and make myself a dress, then get this bag, then go out and solicit an invitation to a garden party, preferably one indoors and with central air, I hung them in the guest room. That lamp is sort of sweet, I think. It's vintage, and has a twin. I love having lamps in pairs.

Curtains2Eventually, I think I'll put the curtains in our room, to go with the quilt (remember that?). I haven't completely flaked out on it, it's just that I bought an enormous box of safety pins to pin the top/batting/bottom together and I can't find the pins. I remember I was sort of shocked at how much a big box of pins actually cost, and am determined to find them, though I have absolutely no memory of even taking them out of the shopping bag. Nevertheless, if I'm anywhere in the vicinity of the fabric store tomorrow, I guess I will get some more, and get this thing finished. I can't possibly have the quilt and the dollhouse and the fall bags and Jeanne-Marie's bookbag and my own bookbag all hanging over my head at the same time, can I? Not to mention Pam's belated birthday present. Unfortunately all I have felt like doing is sitting directly under the ceiling fan until my eyeballs dry out, watching Passport to Europe and pretending I'm Samantha Brown. Love that girl.

This heat's supposed to break tomorrow. It's past time to get something done around here that doesn't involve lying prone with a clicker in one hand and a teacup of frozen M&Ms in the other — that is, if you don't call making it all the way through your TiVo lineup "getting something done." I've been informed that such "accomplishments" really don't count. Jeesh.

July 18, 2006

Strange Collection

MantleWell, I know, this is kind of weird and all over the place for the living room mantle — casserole dishes, teacups, canisters and vases — but that's kind of how I'm feeling lately. Scrambled. I look at it all/myself and say, "Is this working?" Too bad if it's not — best I can do today. Hmmm. Lots of odds and ends in life right now, between tying up things at the shop, planning something new, continuing with what's not changing, finding time to enjoy the process of change (er, okay — trying). I'll get there. Deep breath. Maybe the polka dots/cookware/mustard yellow (and perhaps even this metaphor) is all working after all. Who knows. I'll know when I look back at it, next month, I think. For now, just gotta keep moving. I can do it.

July 14, 2006

Lemon, Sage, and Daisies

Daisydinner2My girls' daisy dinner last night was very lovely, and I was glad. Ina has taught me something — she only ever makes two things herself when she is entertaining. I didn't know you could do that. I made a lemon-stuffed roast chicken, Nigella's potato gratin (which is utterly sinful — you boil potatoes in cream, milk, garlic, and onions, and then when they are seconds away from turning to sludge, you dump the whole thing into a casserole dish and pop it into the oven for a few minutes to get a bit crispy on top — think this one is from Nigella Bites), simple salad, and some special, decadent pastries from Zupan's. I was going to make cupcakes but as the day started heating up it seemed too hot to turn on the oven. Apparently I forgot that the "roast" part of "roast chicken" requires the oven to be on for an hour and a half. Yes, it was very hot in the kitchen. The pastries (by Joseph's) were so beautiful, and so delicious. Sometimes when you get pastry from the store, especially cake, it looks beautiful but doesn't taste that good. This was raspberry-mango buttercream cake, lemon cheesecake, and buttermilk tart and they all tasted as pretty as they promised.

Daisydinner4Today I must get back with the program, and tonight Andy has two free tickets to see Pirates of the Caribbean. I fell asleep not once but twice during the first one, so . . . I hope we're going to the early show. Either that or I hope we're going to the theater with the cozy seats. Tomorrow is a wedding of one of the sweetest, most beautiful girls I know — I've seen the dresses and this party oughta be gorgeous, to boot. And Sunday, I'm very, very, very, very excited to meet Blair and have her and Steph over for brunch. I think it's shaping up to be a great week after all. . . . Phew. Close one.

June 21, 2006

From City Mouse to Little House

Club Little House members have swapped, and my treasures arrived yesterday. I think I was one of the last ones to receive my package, so I've been purposely avoiding Flickr and other blogs that might reveal what was in store, but I have to say, it was so very worth it. Club Little House was organized by my dear, wonderful friend Amy Powers, whose wonderful web site Inspire Company is where I go when I need the most special, gorgeously wrapped presents for the most special people in my life. In Club Little House, there are twelve members -- we each made twelve of the same little item in 1/12th scale, sent them to Amy, and she wrapped one of each for every member and sent them to us. Unfortunately, I didn't keep the tags with each thing, so I need to go back and research stuff to give credits. But I couldn't wait to show you what came.

Clh2

A little bed quilt, with linen-cased pillows.

Clh6 A little craft cabinet filled with supplies.

Clh4 A tiny box of the most "perfect pastries."

Clh7 A diminutive suitcase to pack for the Riviera.

Clh11A charmingly instructive sign.

Clh14 A pink cabinet, a mod coffee table, and supplies for a bitty birthday party!

Clh10 A very small sewing basket in its own case.

Clh12An impossibly small hand-sewn jointed teddy bear from Italy, with his own embroidered pillow.

Clh17 A tiny flag banner, for summer celebrations.

Do we so love the small and cute, girls? Yes. All the little chairs photographed here are part of my own personal collection, but I am psyched to start looking for a real dollhouse in which to keep all my new prezzies. I've never had a dollhouse before. These beautiful things absolutely made my day, and I am so excited to participate again. I'm not sure how Amy will organize the next swap, but please read her blog if you're interested, and I bet she'll let you know how to get involved.

Thank you, fellow Club Little House members! I love every single solitary thing. And thank you for organizing this, Amy, and for providing all those sweet, conscientious, wonderful little touches that make everything you do so very beautiful, and inspiring.

May 31, 2006

Back to Work

Canisters1Yes, back to business. Busy, busy day, playing catch up, getting all orders out, paying bills, and hopefully finding a bit of time to make some new stuff that I've had in mind for weeks now. Just not had an extra second to do anything other than scramble through each day, pretty recklessly. This is the first week in about a month that will not be the beginning or the end of some major project. Sweet relief of just hammering away at the regular stuff. Oh how I love it.

Canisters5_1 We actually went antiquing a bit over the weekend and I found these cool canisters, a set of four. This is the top of a little bookshelf in the living room. (I know someone will ask me what the name of this paint color is but I don't remember! Sorry!) Lately I've been so attracted to yellow. Which is weird. Since I've never liked it much before. New bags will have lots of mellow brightness. I can't wait to work on them later today. I hope what I'm picturing actually works. You never really know until you start cutting and pressing and stitching.

Speaking of, have you heard of a new show on the DIY Network called Uncommon Threads? Melody Shafir, who is extremely nice, is looking for peeps who are handy with any of the needlearts -- except knitting -- to be on the show. So, crochet, embroidery, quilting, rug making. They'll fly you and a few friends to L.A. for the taping -- the show features your little group learning how to make a project of your choice. The details are here, and you can contact Melody directly. Taping for this season is in August/beginning of September. I've actually been wanting to go down to Los Angeles, but I'm not going to be able to make it this time. Sounds like a lot of fun though, no? I love L.A. I really do.

May 23, 2006

The Studio Makes a Full and Speedy Recovery

Studioblue2Oh my. I really can't believe it. I don't know how the room went from this to this in only three days. Actually, I do know how. It practically wiped all of us out. But it had to be done, and it had to be done quick, because Andy only had one day off to paint, and I had two to put back together. We had been talking about painting the studio for several months. How it was possible for me to pick the exact same paint color that I picked for the pantry about two years ago I'll never know, but it turns out it is the same -- River's Edge, from Behr.

Studioblue31 I'm fairly sure I've never been so happy. Or relieved. On Sunday morning Andy went to work and I started trying to put things back into the empty studio. I finished last night around five. I needed to heavily edit my stuff. I brought two huge plastic boxes or extra fabric to the Back-Tack party, brought probably another four boxes of general stuff down to the basement, and threw away probably three. It was just too much. I never want to let that happen again. I do have two enormous cabinets in Andy's office full of felt, yarn, patterns, stuffing, supplies, things like that.

Studioblue29This studio is a full-on working studio, not just a craft room. It has to hold all the paperwork, the computer, the packaging stuff, the cardboard boxes, all the mounds of materials, everything I need to run the business. As such, it gets so overrun with stuff that it is hard to actually work in it. I used to have curtains, and pictures, and artwork, and all this extra decoration that I thought was cute. But for this re-do I wanted as little as possible actually up on the walls because it gets so cluttered with the necessaries as it is. This cabinet of stacked calicoes looks like an exquisite monument to impracticality to me, but I don't know how else to store little pieces of fabric and have it at my fingertips, do you?

Studioblue27All those round white boxes up on the top shelf need labels, and I think what I'm going to do is make some labels on the computer, print them on iron-on paper, and then iron them onto pieces of felt, or if it's readable, pale calicoes. Then I'm thinking I'll affix those to the boxes with removable double-sided tape so that when I want to change the contents of the box I can easily switch out the label. These boxes and jars are filled with sewing notions, paints, fake flowers, cagelet supplies, trims, embroidery stuff, rubber stamps, paper stuff, rick-rack, buttons.

Studioblue18I'm so excited to get back to work in here now. Isn't it amazing how having enough room to do things makes such a big difference? When I was growing up, my sisters and I sewed with our little sewing machine on the floor. We made dresses and patchwork quilts. We sat on the edge of my futon, watching Beverly Hills 90210, eating Domino's pizza, ironing on the ironing board in my mom's room, where her ancient sewing machine was. It was always about 90 degrees in there. My dad would turn on the attic fan and our patterns would blow all over the place. When someone would come in the room, they'd have to step over the sewing machine to get into the back of the room, which snaked around the corner. It was kind of fun, actually. In hindsight only, of course. I do miss 90210 though.

Studioblue5This office-supply arrangement is pretty precious, I know. But what can you do. You always set things up this way and are really good about putting everything back in exactly its place for a few days until it all gets messy again. But this time I'm determined to be good! I must be good! It's hard though. Worth it, but you really have to pay attention if you don't want it to get out of control.

Studioblue6_1 That silhouette was made by my mom when I was three. I need to take it off that board and put it on some acid-free stuff, I think. Maybe even retrace it. That basket below it? Filled with ribbons. I'd thought that they would take up less space if I took the ribbon off the spools. I was wrong about that. They don't. This little paper mache mannequin came from a store called Willow Nest on the way to the beach. My mother-in-law bought it for me as a surprise, several years ago. I sobbed when I saw it. It is one of my absolute favorite things, ever. Ever. I just love it.

Studioblue22 I'm excited. Don't hate me because it's beautiful! Or, if you have to, it's okay -- I don't think I need friends now that I have Miss Blue Room here. I'm glad we didn't wait any longer to work on it. The best part is that we spent no money, except for the new paint and a new garbage can. It was a little bit of a painful process -- oh the aches and pains  and moans and groans that rung through the house you can't imagine! But a few Aleve and a good night's sleep have worked their magic, and it's all good now. I wish I could work in here all day today, but I must get moving and make it to the shop on time this morning. I've barely left the house in three days. I think I forgot how to get dressed.

Studioblue33 Thank you for taking the tour of my "new" studio. If anyone needs me, I'll be here, hugging myself with total, unabashed joy.

May 16, 2006

Summer Beds

Bedroom2Wow, was it hot yesterday. I didn't hear what it actually got up to, but I know in the house, in the dark, cool first floor hallway, it was 86 degrees. Upstairs it was even hotter. I had every ceiling fan going and still could not get to sleep. It's weird -- we wait so long for it to be summer again, and then when it feels like July it's so hard to do anything but lie around, moaning. Somehow I don't remember that part of it when I'm wishing for summer, the part that renders me helpless and sweaty.

Nevertheless, in the afternoon I went up and looked at the beds because I think I have a new hobby -- bleaching and overdyeing as in the "Fading Florals" article in this month's Martha. Did anyone besides me fall off the hammock in a fit of longing upon seeing that picture of the guest bedroom? Ooooooooh baby. The most austere, lovely, tempting room in the world (at least to me), and with painted floor, too. Goodness. I must have stared at the picture for fifteen minutes, and have gone back to it several times since. An idea is brewing.

This (above)  is our bedroom in its summer frock. And yes, I do recommend marrying a man who will let you decorate however, wherever, and whenever you want without argument. This duvet is just from the Simply Shabby Chic aisle at Target, maybe two years ago? I don't know -- when that stuff first came out. They might still have it. I like it fine as it is but it's so obviously calling me to bleach and then overdye it in the worst way, no? The room is pale blue with lots of white and then pink/red accents. Er, what's not, around here. Gotta think what color this duvet should be. . . .

Bedroom9_1 This is our little guest bedroom, hosting most regularly our seven-year-old niece. And sometimes me, when I want to feel like a seven-year-old who has her own room at her nice auntie's house. I've had this green bedspread since high school, and it is floppy and soft as anything. Actually, I wanted the room to feel like the guest room at our grandma's, our Italian grandma's. Our other grandma, Lucille Lucie, lived in a brownstone in the city and we saw her a few times a year, usually for holidays, and slept over ocassionally. She had things like crystal and vanity sets and ginger ale and doilies on sofa arms. Our grandpa was a banker, and they were sort of supper-club types; they wore beautiful clothes, and gave us a fifty-cent piece when we saw them. They always lived in buildings that had tiny tiles in the bathroom, and intricate scaffoldings of fire-escapes down the back. My grandma's favorite place to vacation was Honolulu, and there are many pictures of her in mumus and big beads, with pineapple-flocked cocktails.

Our other grandma, Angie, eventually lived (with our grandpa, whose name was Albert) in a little 50s ranch house at 102 Park,  a few blocks from our house in River Forest. They were both from little towns in Italy -- my grandma had come to the U.S. as a little girl, my grandpa as a teenager, I think. Their house was very simple, all white, with wall-to-wall carpet, and so different from our own in every way. For one thing, it had central air -- if you had central air, you might as well have had an indoor pool, too, so little would we have known how to relate to you. Our grandparents liked it very warm in the winter, and very cold in the summer, and when we were growing up we spent countless hours in their padded, quiet, comfortable rooms. They had things like hot water bottles and those little pitchers with matching cups at bedside. They had an oilcloth tablecloth and cast iron pans. My grandma got an electric stove when she moved to the new house -- the first "house" they'd ever owned, bought when they were in their seventies (they'd been apartment building-owners most of their lives) -- and she never got used to it. She made fried egg sandwiches on Italian bread with a hole cut out for my dad. My grandpa ate a yellow apple, which he peeled with a paring knife, every day. Still, when I look at the words "yellow apple" they feel like like my last name -- Ieronemo -- familiar and like another place.

Bedroom4My grandpa had a screen porch off the side of the garage in their big back yard, which led up to the train trestle, the other side of which bordered our street across the park. Their yard was huge, a wide expanse of lawn with a tree in the middle, and a cool, shady screen porch. My grandpa kept a little black and white TV out there, and watched wrestling in the afternoons while sitting in an all-weather webbed rocking chair, like a lawn chair on runners. Occasionally we'd be invited into the screen porch, but not often. It had a concrete floor that was always cool. I had dreams about living there, in the screen porch, and sleeping half-outside. I'd catch lightning bugs in a jar for the bedside lamp, then lay on my cot in the quiet and read read read.

The guest room at my grandma's had heavy, white sheets. The beds were always impeccably made, and everything you might need was on the nightstand. Nevertheless I rarely slept well when I was there -- I wanted to stay awake and enjoy every minute. No matter how hot it was outside, it would be freezing in the guest room, and you'd huddle under the sheets and blankets, feeling secure and tucked in. In the mornings my grandma would wake up very early and start her cuckoo clock, which would talk to us every hour. The days seemed incredibly long then. Why did they seem so long.

If you have some time, my podcast at CraftSanity is up, too. I think I'm too shy to listen to it. If I said anything incredibly stupid, please don't tell me. I'll stay up all night worrying about it, and I'm super tired today.

May 12, 2006

My Dirty Little Secret

Hallway1If, as you sit drinking your morning coffee, reading this little blog, thinking not for the first time, "This Posie girl seriously bugs me. Why on earth am I wasting my time reading this thing," today is the day I would have to say, "I so hear you," "I know, me too," and, "I'm sorry." Because when I tell you what I have to tell you, you'll probably never come here again.

I have a cleaning lady.

I do. I've had her for three years, since I opened my store. I love her so much I can't even say exactly how much because it would get weird. Weird-er. She comes for two hours once every three weeks and cleans the bathrooms, the kitchen, and the floors, and she dusts and vacuums. There. I said it. Please don't hate me.

I will say, also, in no uncertain terms, that it has completely changed my life, having her. Andy and I have lived together for ten years, and we always fought about housework. Always. It was pretty much the only thing we ever fought about. Ever. I wanted things a certain way but I couldn't physically do it because of my stupid foot. He was already tired of cleaning up after people for twelve hours a day. Now we have the time and energy for doing more fun stuff in the limited amount of time we have together every week and it is wonderful. I have become totally okay with it all now that I've seen how many steps I save -- since I start each day with a certain number of steps with which to work, run errands, have fun, just live, etc., I ration them carefully. But even though I'm making this excuse, I'm also undeniably just a lazy housekeeper. A dillettante housekeeper.

Hallway3_1 That's why what I did the other day makes me feel really bad. Andy had painted this back hallway, off the kitchen, last weekend, and I did manage to find Dash & Albert rugs here in Portland, at Rejuvenation. So I got one of those beauties (see it, a little bit?), and then I was so excited I just kept going. I got a shelf  with pegs for my aprons, and a vaguely impractical broom, and a bunch of cleaning supplies that I thought looked really cute (from the Dollar Store -- love that place, and loved looking at the packaging of this stuff, all named for happy things: Sun, Joy, Fabulous!) but I will never use these. They sit here with colored sponges and old-fashioned clothes pins and bottle brushes as if somebody actually cleaned bottles or hung out clothes. (I do have other cleaning supplies, though, the ugly real ones, under the kitchen sink.)

Hallway2_1I just had to, had to confess. I know I totally suck but at least I'm not as bad as Rachel Ashwell, who has her housekeeper change her bathmats TWICE A DAY. I change my bathmats about once every two weeks. So that's not so bad, that's pretty disgusting. And my bed is covered in dog hair, so that's gross. And my studio is a NIGHTMARE that hasn't really been cleaned in about two years. My bathtub caulking is now black in places. The fronts of my kitchen drawers are so old and splintery they're about to fall off. My fireplace is still filled with charred-up wood from last winter. My window is completely smeared with dog-noseprints. My sofa is muddy with pawprints. My carpet looks like a roughed-up Muppet wig.

I can go further with this if necessary, but I won't, I know you have better things to do.

I just really hope one of them isn't cleaning.

May 04, 2006

Dash & Albert Rugs I Love

DashandalbertWe are rather rug challenged around here. At least upstairs. On the stairs to the second floor and throughout the second floor is your basic ten-year-old Home Depot berber-type wall-to-wall, which, in the six years that we've lived here, we've aged about . . . seventeen and a half years. On the stairs it is completely pulling away from the risers, and on the landing is a big yucky spot about two feet in diameter where I couldn't figure out what was going on until I saw the dog rolling and rolling and grunting happily back and forth on it one morning. It's apparently where she likes to get all the dirt and dew off her coat when she comes in after her dawn trip to the back yard. Lovely. She can't do this in the mud room, she must do it in the very middle of the house. The carpet also has a lot of stains from animal puke and other "things," and also the distinct impression of an IRON in the upstairs hallway, when apparently someone tried to iron their shirt on the rug. We let some friends of friends stay in our house while we were on vacation one time, and though they didn't, like, steal anything or burn the place down, apparently they . . . almost did.

Dashandalbert2I have been very conflicted about replacing the carpet because 1) I have no money, 2) the carpet is practically white (which is part of the problem) but I must say that I have gotten used to having all that lightness up there, and I know whatever carpet I choose to replace it, they (you know, They) won't let me get anything near as light. So I will be a little sad, because I like it light upstairs, and 3) the extreme amount of traffic in the hallway, which has a sort of clubby, Pottery Barn-ish feel, requires something durable and dark, but the bedrooms, which are feminine and vintage-y, beg for something less . . . practical. Something more detailed, more evocative of a summer house. Something prettier. The tweed olefin waffle grid in khaki was not really pretty.

Dashandalbert3Now these -- these are so very, very, very pretty! I love them very much. These are rugs from the stripe collection at Dash & Albert, and I have been wanting them for a year now, when I first heard of the company. In fact, it was exactly a year ago that I went running out to Susan, who owns the furniture store in the back of which our store is tucked, begging her to open an account with them, since these rugs are not available anywhere in Oregon, or even Washington. She applied, and never heard back. Then I think she forgot. I sort of forgot and decided to live with the upstairs carpet for one more year.  Well, that year has come and gone and it's carpet-time again, and though I have looked at many a carpet and area rug since, I still have my heart set on these, the beautiful stripes.

Dashandalbert4Now, these are area rugs, of course, and runners, and runners by the yard. And part of the problem is that I have no idea how much they are, because they don't give prices on their web site, and there's nowhere for us to see them in real life. They are probably so out of range, don't you think?

Someone asked me, in one of the comments, I think, if I was inclined to make my own rag rug, which I most certainly am but every time I've thought about it, or picked up a book about doing it, I think to myself -- could I possibly stitch the rows of braids together tightly enough so that the whole thing wouldn't completely fall apart? Do I want my hours and hours of work (as I'm sure it would take) to clothe the floor of the vomitorium that is the guest room? I do have more fabric than I will probably ever use, so a rug would be a good solution. It's a big -- as in physically big, like how would I sit with it on the couch, which is like a major criterion for me in choosing to do, oh, anything -- project that seems like you would need to devote a whole room to making it. Maybe I'm wrong about all of this. I hope so, because I'm sure I can't afford these D&As.

Dashandalbert5 For a while I had the Random Stripe Generator on my blogroll but I don't know what happened to it. I'd better put it back up there. I love that thing. I've heard that you can crochet rugs, too, but it seems like they still might be too flimsy -- like, I don't want to wind up with a blanket on the floor. Maybe -- crocheted strips of fabric, into stripes? That would have to be one enormous crochet hook, and some very thick strips of fabric. And crochet doesn't really make clean-lined stripes. And I have that whole enormous Faded Tulips blanket to work on. And I already shouldn't be working on that so much. Hooked rugs -- too complicated for me, I think, because you'd have to sit there with that enormous, inflexible piece of canvas. I'm thinking braided or crocheted.

Really I'm just thinking, "Man, I hope these ones here are cheap!!!"

I think that's what They call Wishful Thinking.

Ohmigosh -- I almost forgot. My friend Jodi is writing an article for a national bridal magazine about surprise weddings, and she is looking for sources. If you are part of a couple who has been married less than five years and hosted a surprise wedding -- that is, one where your guests thought they were just coming over for a barbecue, and then you came out in a big white dress with a  bouquet -- and you want to tell Jodi about it, please email her at jodiATjodihelmerDOTcom. She would be ever so grateful!

May 01, 2006

The Good Things About Being Sick

Milkshake2 Milkshakes with Haagen-Dazs. (This one's for you, Anna.)

Yard1People let you buy the kinds of (and all the) plants you want at the nursery and carry them for you from the car.

Yard2 You can spend an hour and a half washing twelve pots while sitting in the sun saying, "But I don't feel good."

Yard3_1And so then anyone listening to you moan will nicely plant your stuff for you. But you will still have to cover the pots in yogurt and dirt yourself, to see if that whole moss-growing thing really works.

Yard4_1The dog will follow the planting person around and lick all the yogurt and dirt off of the pots after you go into the house to get under a blanket and drink orange juice and eat cookie dough. You won't find out about the licking part until later, which is good.

Yard5 The next morning, when you wake up feeling even worse than you did the day before, you will feel better knowing that today you can sit bundled up in your Adirondack chair and watch the plants grow and the gravel settle without being compelled to lift a little finger.

It's a good thing. [Sniffle. Cough.]

April 29, 2006

Kitchen Nook, Early Morning, with Babbling

Kitchen6_1So, it only takes the weeniest amount of encouragement from y'all, and I spring into action to spiff up the nook. Mm, here it is again. It's a pretty tiny little space. I had been neglecting it a bit because it is home to the aforementioned utterly terrifying cat food and cat bowls. I found this little pink shelf of mine in the basement of the shop the other day, and I remembered how pretty Yvonne's little shelf  was -- and her other open shelves, too -- and promptly put in the work order to have it hung so I could put my stupid latte bowls somewhere. Yvonne is a fantastic stylist -- I love all of her pictures so much, everything always cheerful and colorful and spare and pretty. Yvestown is a very lovely town indeed. I wish Yvonne could come here and fix up my shelf for me.

Kitchen2I don't know why I was just mean to the latte bowls. I didn't mean it. I love them, actually, but there's nowhere to put them. I think I'm mad at myself because, in spite of the fact that I don't have anywhere to put them, I keep buying them. I go in to unpack groceries and there's another one. "She forgot to give me my avocado! Dangit! . . . Hey, how'd you get in here?" I think I'll put in another work order to have a little shelf put somewhere or other, just for them. They're so sweet.  I don't drink coffee out of them, though I've tried, because it sounds just like something pretentious and precious enough to appeal to me; the coffee gets so cold with all that surface area cooling down so fast. How do the French do it, I wonder. I thought they sat around for hours over cafe au lait. Another mystery of France we'll never understand.

Kitchen1I love this tennis girl, too. Her nonchalant, 40-love, so-what-if-I'm-winning posture. She's an old cake decoration. And little Miss Kitty up there is a salt shaker. And tucked way in the back is a patchwork card, given to me by the mod mother of all fairy godmothers, Lisa, made by the earth mother of fairy godmothers, Amanda. Irish oatmeal -- the greatest hot cereal. Since childhood I have been a Malt-O-Meal, farina, Cream of Wheat person. Lately, it's steel-cut oats. By the way, Miss Stephanie? Is it my imagination or were those not steel cut oats we got at Henry's the other day? I think those oats were as flat as pancakes. We should've gotten pancakes. You are two for two "should've gotten something else"s at Henry's now. Hmmm. We're blowing you off next time Henry. Not to mention it was freezing in there, my gosh. Almost as cold as it is in here, actually. Where's the heat.

Kitchen3Uh oh. I'm crabby. You know why? 'Cause I don't feel good. I have a sore throat. I took three Airbornes last night. I should take another one. We were supposed to clean up the studio today, because it's probably going to rain. All I feel like doing is lying on the couch and watching America's Castles. Or Gilmore Girls. Or Judge Judy. I could rival David Sedaris with my love for Judy. Would it surprise you to know that I watch Judge Judy every day? I do. But any of those would be fine. They all feel like poorly-bed shows, somehow, and watching JJ always makes you feel a lot better about your own life. I'm so behind with everything -- the Posie site is so empty and bare. I have lots of things in various states of completion but nothing completed. Errrrr. My body feels like it's made of overheated paper mache. I did manage to put together a gallery of all the Posie-ish things that have sold in the past six months, however. I thought it was a bit of a miracle that I finished that; of course, it is something I should've been doing all along. This little tulle apron with the rickrack and the roses? How cute is that. From Lisa, of course, the font of all things cool and excellent. She sent me another one that will make its debut on the mannequin next week. When I opened them I tried to scream "Oooooooo! OOOOOOooooo! Oh no you di-n't, oh no you DI-N'T girlfriend!" at her via email but I don't know if she could hear how loud I really was. I think she did, but some things are hard to communicate over email. I pranced around with my eyes closed, hugging the aprons to my chest, thinking not for the first time that the woman truly is prescient.

Kitchen5_1People are starting to notice that . . . I'm having a very difficult time staying on top of my email. Like, they go, "How do you answer your email?" and I go, "Uh, I don't, really," and they go, "Yeah no kidding you loser." My in box is a total disaster. If you've written to me and I haven't replied, I really am sorry. I probably lost your email. I'm serious. There are like 3,000 messages in there because I never delete them, and everything goes into the same mailbox. It's a nightmare, and getting worse and worse. I'm just saying. I really do love you. I'm just totally disorganized. Like, here are some recent comments I have a vague memory of not answering: Paper flower in the upstairs bathroom cabinet? Bernadette Breu, antique store in the Pearl district (Portland). Kind of camera I use? Canon A-80, love it. Paint color in the living room? Can't for the life of me remember even the brand of paint. Do tree peonies smell like regular peonies? Happily, yes! Were there others? Prob.

Violet2I'd better go. This post is pretty mental. Please forgive me. Maybe I have a hallucinatory fever and not just a sore throat. Maybe I'm raving. I don't think I'm quite as scary as bullet-eyed Violet over here yet, though. This is the face I call, "Oh, but you will do what I want." She gets so nosy when I come in the nook, her secret lair. I guess I'd better feed her before she puts me into some kind of tabby-induced canned-cat-food trance. I might be halfway there.

April 27, 2006

In the Night Kitchen

Nightkitchen6_2 The May issue of Domino, which I just got to look through a couple of days ago, is so beautiful. I love Domino magazine. You hear me, Domino? I love you. (This is how Amy talks to her pans, and I assume they hear her.) I have never really found a magazine, since all the Martha Stewarts, that inspires and influences me to such an extent that I actually do something about it. Last fall, when Domino launched, it truly sent me into a frenzy of redecorating and required me to kind of . . . clean up . . . the place. By that I mean a real clean up, where I got rid of a lot of stuff that was filling up space, stuff I had ceased to really "see" -- books I would never again read, gifts that weren't our style, fake flowers collecting dust (though we just read on the salt box that to clean silk flowers you put them in a bag with a bunch of salt and shake them around -- didn't know that), bulging stacks of magazines, carpets too big for their spaces. I don't know what else there was, but I know that we worked pretty hard to purge it. And it was all because of Domino. I felt like I could start fresh with the new magazine. Their manifesto makes me want to stand, with hand on heart, and recite it aloud from the front porch. I love every single solitary thing about the new issue.

Nightkitchen I wish they had the old content of the magazine available on-line in archives, but I don't think they do -- the site is mostly about the current issue. If they did, I would point you toward an article last fall where they accessorized a kitchen three different ways -- one sort of earthy, one French flea market, and one 60s mod. What I like is how do-able a lot of what they show really is -- it wasn't a whole kitchen remodel, it was just a counter and a shelf. I can do a counter and a shelf! I loved the French flea market. My kitchen was a little bit there already, but it was helpful to see the vision in print. I was going to order this polka dot pendant lamp but then I found this eyelet paper lantern and knew it would look pretty with those rosy paper lanterns from Laura the other day. Dimmer switches that you plug into lamps are the greatest invention -- I use them on all the important lamps in my house. It allows you to control the amount of light in your lamps down to the mere glow, just like a wall dimmer switch for an overhead light. (But you know how I feel about the overhead light.) Oh, and does anyone know a (cheap) source for striped cotton rugs? I just want a red and white stripey one. I feel like I see them everywhere until I want one and then I can't find it.

Nightkitchen5_2I got a bunch of square doilies that I taped to the lower part of the window, and then sprayed that frost stuff you use in bathroom window over them, but I did it too sloppily and it didn't come out great. The idea is to spray the frost through all the little holes in the doily and leave the relief on the glass. The fumes practically killed me. I'm gonna retry that and I'll show you.

Am I talking about the house too much? It's just that I have big plans for the summer, plans that include a lot of doing nothing. I want the summer to feel long and lazy and open and promising. I want to be bored. So I want to get all these ideas that I have finished up, so I can just lay on the hammock and read, and invite friends over for barbeques, and lounge around bored for hours at a time, with nowhere to go, nothing to do, and nothing else to finish up. At least until fall.

April 23, 2006

The Back Yard: Phase 2

Yard2ndphaseNever let it be said that Mr. Paulson has no follow-through. Take that, color quiz! Or this, rather. This evidence of two long, hard days with shovel and other, very loud sorts of machinery. This is Phase 2 of the back yard, with its under-layer of biggish gravel. On top of this will go the "pretty" gravel, I'm told. Then, you know, the fluffy stuff -- containers and a few raised beds. But not much. Oh, and where the table and chairs are, eventually a flagstone patio sort of thing.

Yard2ndphase2The dog's all "What in the hell and the hootenanny'd those loons do now?" I'd like to go out and play some four-square on the thing, personally. It takes some getting used to, I must admit. But honestly, I'm relieved, and looking forward to having something that we can actually manage. A few giant pots of lavender and, my favorite, English box. Another seating area. Some climbing stuff up the walls. A ring of perennials around the plum tree. My poor little apple tree against the back fence -- I tried to pleach the thing, or espalier it or whatever you call it. Andy thought it looked absolutely crucified so we took it down, but not before it got all wonky and tentacled.

StonybirdnestI don't know if I've mentioned that I am fairly hyper in my sense of responsibility toward my little house and property. I feel the privilege of home-ownership keenly, and am motivated by a lifetime's-worth of longing -- what's stronger than "longing" -- yearning -- desperate, tear-streaked yearning for a home -- to take care of our space. Andy indulges me in this completely, since, you know, all I do is sit around with my foot on a pillow and come up with the honey-do lists while he does the hard labor, etc., all without, you know, spending any money. I can't believe how much he got done in the past couple of days. Thank you, Andy, and also Coldplay and Radiohead and whatever incredibly bad British heavy metal I heard coming out of the kitchen. I think he actually enjoyed the whole experience. He was actually whistling contentedly at 10:00 p.m. last night. If I'd done any of it I would've still been marching around the place sighing dramatically, groaning with aches and pains, ranting "And then I had to do this, and then I had to do that, and then I had to do this -- again --and it was so hard! Is anybody even listening to me?" But that is not his way. His way is just to whistle.

April 21, 2006

This One's for You, Martha Pedersen

Yard4Yup. When we say "mud," we mean mud. Here's the back yard yesterday. Andy took out the deck that was too small for even four people to eat dinner on ("Please pass the salt, and don't fall off the deck!!! "), and started eliminating the top layer of sort-of grass and mostly mud and often moss. We are just unable to grow grass in our back yard. We should have been tipped off when we bought the place -- the previous owner had every inch of the back yard covered in bark dust. We waited a year for it to decompose, then hired some guys to take the rest of it away, smooth out the bumps, and replant grass. It looked nice, for about five minutes. Remember this? This was taken during that five minutes. We are Midwesterners born and bred, and we do like a nice green lawn. There is a reason why Japanese rock gardens are big in the Northwest, however. Oh, man. Let's go in the front yard, quick.

Yard5_1 Ah. Okay, that's better. This is my little tree peony. This bud is seriously like two inches around. Can't wait to see this. I'll show you. That muddy brown color behind the bud is the front porchy thing of the house. But anyway, in the back yard, the grass very quickly ceased to come back. In the winter, most of the yard turned to mud. In the summer, the mud turned to dirt. There is a huge tree back there which blocks the sun. No grass will grow under the canopy of the tree. Under the tree there are only tree roots and dirt.

Yard3This is more (sunny) front yard. The parkway, with its new coating of compost/mulch. (Every spring, Andy and I have great conversations about the difference between these two things. They go like this: Me: "Hon, can you get a load of mulch for the front yard and do it, please?" He: "You mean compost." Me: "Er . . . " He: "Mulch and compost are the same thing." Me: "Err . . . " .) Something black goes on the parkway and beds. Roses there. No grass. See that purple tree in the background? It's a plum, the exact same kind that's in the back yard, too. It drops its little plums all over everything and then people step on them and track them into the house. Bees are everywhere, feasting on rotting plums. No grass under that tree either. Someone once looked at it and said, "Oh, but you can make plum jam!" I had to kick her off the property. I was inches away from throwing plums at her. I am utterly conflicted about these trees.

Yard6This is a climbing hydrangea. It's attached to one side of the front porchy thing. It climbs in the shade and doesn't need support, having those little hairy graspers. My friend Nancy, who actually knows what she's doing in the garden, says that this was a bad choice, as it becomes absolutely monstrous and rips off your gutters. When people say things like that I'm like, "Hm? Wha?" I pretend I don't understand what they are talking about, and busy myself with some pruning, or pull out a weed or two, or pick a flower and tuck it coquettishly behind my ear to distract them. Because I love my climbing hydrangea. When it starts ripping stucco off the house I'll reconsider, but until then I'm all Hmm? [Eyelash bat.] Wha? Did you say something?

Yard7The dogwood. In my opinion, there really just can't be too many of these sweet little prom dates in the world. I so love the dogwood tree. We have another one, a pink one, in the back yard, but it almost never flowers. I don't know why. Probably because it's the back yard, where nothing works. Don't you love this color of creamy-ish yellow? I think I'd like to paint everything in the house this color and then make some buttercream frosting and sit on a stack of pillows, eating the whole bowl.

Yard8This rock is cool. My bro-in-law made it for us, but I haven't the first clue how he did it. He knows how to do all sorts of cool, professional-looking things like that. He also helped Andy build the pergola thing in the back yard. Soon after the back grass went away, the dog came. She wore a patch along the back fence which will never recover. The back yard is going to be covered in gravel, except for a little rectangle of grass which actually grows. I saw a garden in the first issue of Domino magazine last fall that inspired me. It's a square garden, covered in gravel, with raised beds. This is our plan. We just need a place for our hammock and the table and chairs. We need flat surface so I can walk on it, and we need no mud.

YardIt's taken six years to get the front yard to be good. The previous owner apparently didn't like people, and he planted many scary and unappealing plants to create a fortress-like barricade not just around the property but all over the property. I'm not great in the yard -- I mean, it always looks pretty in the spring but then I sort of forget about it and again it's like -- Goldilocks Theory. Too many things to take care of make me want to weep with exhaustion. So, gravel, and containers in back. Andy does all the work and I wring my hands supportively and practice my empathicalism -- it rained last night so there is some serious water back there, since the place doesn't drain very well. He's got a long day ahead of him, poor sweetie.

Martha [landscape architect/college roommate/East Coaster who has never seen the yard in real life but heard all about it], we tried. We really tried.

April 20, 2006

More Little Cabinets Get Cleaned

Geishabook Isn't this the prettiest little box? It came a few days ago from Julie, Arthur Golden's personal assistant, who is a secret blog reader. I'm embarrassed that I am, as I told Julie, probably the only person alive who hasn't yet read the book or seen the movie, but that makes the treat all the more sweet. She also tucked in some beautiful French soaps and some Memoirs of a Geisha tea. What a gorgeous canister. That's on the windowsill in the kitchen now. What a lovely surprise -- thank you, Julie! Honestly! Delightful.

UpstairscabinetThe soap is in the upstairs bathroom cabinet -- perfect timing since I was just sort of cleaning up and reorganizing both of the bathroom cabinets, as you saw yesterday. This is upstairs. You saw the other side of the room a few months ago. I was inspired to primp this cabi once again by Lisa, as well, because she gave me that pretty blue box of Italian soap on the very top, and now the jasmine one sits in the middle shelf. You can never, ever have enough fancy soap. That diamond postcard came a couple of days ago from Hillary -- apparently, my friends are now able to read my mind. Did you know how happy these treats would be in my little shelf? So it would seem! Thank you!

Upstairscabinet2I love the way cosmetics look, though I am very picky about them, about what's inside the package. I have the littlest, teeniest-weeniest ever-so-under-control addiction to Kiehl's products. Yes, my eye is twitching, but really, I'm okay, it's okay. Um. I'm supposed to save them for my guests -- my friend Linda in L.A. stocks her guest bathroom with Kiehl's (and probably her own bathroom, come to think of it) and when I stayed with her I'd just be in the bathroom forever. Just standing there in the shower, soaking in all that Kiehl's goodness. People waiting for me to come out so we could go to Universal Studios, and I'm washing my hair twice. I returned from my visit to her last year and promptly went out to stock my upstairs shower (which guests use but I really don't) with Amino Acid Shampoo (which smells like coconut) and Vanilla Body Wash and other stuff. I was so touched that she would offer these luxuries to her guests, whereas all I had for my own were the castoffs and rejects and scuzzy half-filled bottles of generic suds. I have ambitions to be a better hostess than that, I really do. So now there are beautiful little bottles of Kiehl's in the upstairs shower, and occasionally, when I feel the need to be extra-nice to myself, I use them. Though sparingly. (Linda's a lawyer.) If you come visit you can stay in the shower as long as you want, and wash your hair three times if you want, and I will be so totally cool with that! Really! Seriously! I'll be downstairs with the Suave, but you, you should be absolutely reckless, just crazy wanton with the Kiehl's, dear. It's worth it. I completely understand.

April 19, 2006

By the Dawnzer Lee Light

BathshelfDo you know the Ramona books, by Beverly Cleary? I always think of them in the morning, when I remember Ramona telling her father to turn on the "dawnzer" so he could see what he was reading. She got this from what she heard in The Star-Spangled Banner -- "by the dawn's early light" -- and thought she'd impress him with her new word for "lamp." The fictional character of Ramona grew up a few miles from where we live now, on Klickitat Street, which is a real street in a real, very charming neighborhood in Portland, near Ella Posie.

Bathsink2 I wanted to show Lisa what I wound up doing with the shelf I showed her on Saturday. I put it in the bathroom. Along with this soap dish that I got while shopping with her. I always have aqua blue bathrooms, some shade of aqua. You can't tell it's aqua in here from the lighting, but it's just a pale, watery color, almost like the color of water in a full bathtub. Though of course our walls are freckled with mildew. This room goes way more to the shabby side than the chic. But the aqua was a no-brainer when we moved in because the room actually has a turquoise blue tub (which I think I'm practically standing in to take this picture). I always live in places with weird bathrooms. Once I lived in a house with a square toilet seat. ??? This bathroom actually doesn't have a window that leads to outside -- it has a window which leads to the mud room/pantry, which was built as an addition. Hence, it always has a sort of dawnzer-y glow, even in the middle of a bright afternoon.

Oooh, I can see it's gonna be hard to stay inside today. Even from in the bathroom, I can tell there is sun out there. And just a note to anyone who's waiting for a Cagelet, Alice Apron, Friendly Bird, or Sock Puppy to show up on the Posie site -- there will be more soon, so please stay tuned. I'm working on putting together a gallery of images of things past, just for fun.

April 18, 2006

"A crocheted blanket!" she shouted excitedly, over vehement protestations from her wrists.

Livingroom2 Okay, so, then. This is an idea that has been in my mind for a long, long time, but I have been thwarted by the equally overwhelming idea of how much it would cost. As I mentioned a few days ago, I am so spoiled that I will only work with yummy yarn. Yummy yarn tends to be expensive yarn. We all know that, when making things for other people, it is sadly much more important that we love the yarn we choose than it is that they love the yarn we choose. It is also more important that we love the pattern we're using, and most of all that we love the experience itself, because (sorry to say) we've all slaved over something that we thought would be absolutely perfect for someone else only to hear them say upon receiving, "Oh. Thanks. Wow. You shouldn't have." And they truly do mean "you shouldn't have." And then, the deafening silence, broken only by the sound of our inner voice screaming, "Give it back! Give it back!"

Tulipsandyarn3 Grab it and run. Kidding. But seriously, we generous yarn-obsessed types eventually do get to the bottom of the list, where our own names patiently wait, eager for a scarf, a hat, even a sweater maybe. Surely we don't deserve something as monstrously indulgent, as decadent as an entire blanket, do we? Of our very own, to snuggle under on the sofa, cozy in its Cashmerino folds?

Well, I know I don't deserve it. But I'm doing it anyway. I have, over the years, bought a skein here and a skein there of enough Baby Cashmerino to make a whole blanket (and please note I say blanket rather than throw, as I can't say "throw" without the feeling of toes popping  out from under because the thing's not long enough and that drives me kickingly insane). I'm calling this blanket Faded Tulips, and my plan is to have it finished by the fall, six months from now, so that by the time I'm planting tulips, I can come in and coze up underneath it after a hard day in the autumn garden. It was inspired by these, the fading tulips on the coffee table, which take on a sort of grayish, silky cast that is so lovely. I plopped all my yarns out next to this shabby bouquet yesterday and thought about them. The plan is to crochet up big nine-inch two-color-striped squares, put a solid-color border around each, and patch them together like a quilt. One square is done. I'm so on my way! Har.

TulipsandyarnI had spent the afternoon picking out new carpet for the stairway and upstairs hallway (so many colors when you start, so few [tweedy, dark, and unstainable] when you end). I had spent the morning discussing color with my sis, who is rearranging her house for the _____th time and moving her office into the dining room. Repainting that. I pointed her toward the article about cafe au lait bowls in the September '05 issue of MSL, that little nutmeg-brown kitchen with the pale, matte pink chairs and shelf? Adorable. Not what she'll do, but still adorable. I thought about the value (or, relative light- or darkness of a color) of the colors that I tend to choose -- all very much the same value. All the time. A conservative, too-careful habit of mine. I shuffled through the color-library of my mind for a color that I would add to this pile to shake things up. To take it from "nice pastelly quilt" to "sharp! ". Most of these yarns are Baby Cashmerino. Some, colors like the mustard yellow and pale gray, are Debbie Bliss Cathay. I want one or two more colors that are totally edgy and unexpected, but being the predictable bore that I am, I can't think of what they would be. Red? Chocolate brown? Kelly green? Snore. Help!

Can you see Cassi's little pincushion down there? Jeez. Cassi, you do beautiful work. I will never, ever, ever stick a pin in this thing. Ev-er.

April 09, 2006

Six Haiku for a Lazy Saturday

Stitching Morning

Little plastic horse
I hate it when you're chilly
I'll take care of you

Violet Noon

Pretty girl in bed
Waits for some attention please
Will you take a sec?

Bridget2 Afternoon

The B, stalking you
She waits for you to notice
Anything but her

Sunsetwall_1 Sunset

I like gold on green
And shadows on my rock wall
Daylight wants to stay

Nightwindow2_1 Evening

Magnolia tree
Glowy in the twilight I'm
Glad he mowed the lawn

Nightroom_1 Night

Little yellow quilt
I got you at Meier and Frank
I'm okay with that

March 28, 2006

Do You Know My Flower Girl?

Flowergirl2Isn't she sweet? Do you know who she is? I found her at an antique store for a few dollars last week and I'm crazy about her. She's painted wood? I think. Or maybe some kind of very lightweight ceramic. She has four little holes across the top of her basket, and I stuck these little millinery flowers in. She doesn't hold water, because there is a one-inch hole in the bottom, covered only by a piece of cardboard. The cardboard has a little round navy blue sticker with the words "Wales" and "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off." and "Made in Japan" written in gold, and a little picture of a crown.

I love her. She goes with my little cottage paintings. I was just wondering if anyone had ever seen another one, or knows anything about her provenance? I'd love to find her a sister.

March 17, 2006

Big, Little

DressandchairThank you, kind lassies, for your very kind comments yesterday, especially you, Laura, the sweetheart who suggested I looked like Courtney Cox! That comment alone has made having a blog at all just so very extremely worth it! Alas, these days I bear far more resemblance to Grendel's mother than the lovely C.C., but you're such a sweet, generous crowd I'll let you persist in thinking I'm still cute if it means coming home to such comparisons. But really, thanks everybody. You are all just so nice. And I loved hearing all the other funny engagement stories!

Andy was reading the comments last night and laughed when he got to our friend Misha's (hi Meesh!), who wondered why I don't make wedding dresses. I said, "Maybe I should have mentioned that that one took me a year." Andy said, "Yeah, but you, like, made it in bed, while watching TV." Sort of true; we did live in a studio apartment with a Murphy bed then, and when the bed was out it took up half the room, so where could I go? I'd sit in the middle of of the bed, and hand-stitch silk ribbon to the hem. We actually had to move furniture around every night before we could go to sleep. Good times, though. Loved that place, and making that dress. As I said, I really loved that year, and part of it was just the experience of making the dress, and sitting under all that gorgeous silk organza, and dreaming. Good fabric is just . . . it's just so awesome. Piles of it is heavenly.

Dolldresses2This little fairy frock is a tiny confection that I've had for years, gotten for a few bucks at an antique store somewhere. It's one of my absolute favorite things ever, and I keep it with my little collection of little chairs. I have a collection! I found this shelf at a garage sale a few years ago, and I got it with the sole intention of starting a little collection of something, but I didn't know what I wanted to collect. I thought, "What do I like to do?" and then I thought, "Well, I do like to sit." So, you know, chairs.

These little tiny wire ones with the flowers are so sweet. And that double beach chair? Wow. A gift from my friend Kim, who used to be a display designer for big department stores, and I believe this came from one of those. One is made of a tin can (the white one with the green cushion)! That was from Shelly, of the aforementioned Button Day, and I think she got it on E-bay, and gave it to me for Christmas.

Amy P. and I were talking the other day about how much we loved Jenny's amazing dollhouse makeover. If you haven't seen that, take a look. It will just make you smile with your whole body.

March 13, 2006

The Little Rambler

ApronsI am ready, I am sooooo ready for spring. Can't get here fast enough. Nevertheless, at this time of year, as in fall, I am always scrambling, trying to finish the season's new products, so spring is actually coming too fast for Posie. Too slow for me, too fast for Posie. Today will be a total scramble, as I finish what I started on the weekend (Pirouette handbags and Fleur Button Bobbies) and head to the P.O. to do the international packages from last week. International shipping is ever so slightly more challenging, as it requires filling out customs forms and standing in a long line and then talking to an actual person, instead of ramming everything through the "robot," as we call him, or APC, the way we like to. We don't like to speak to any actual people at the P.O. This is the one place where I would say that automated progress is just much, much better. Actual conversation with postal people always goes badly for me, especially at the SE Station on 7th. If you ever feel like you need to feel worse about the state of our federal services, just go there. I remember once buying a stamp at the P.O. somewhere in Italy. I said, "How much is a stamp for this letter?" (though I had a phrasebook and said it in Italian).
     The guy sort of leaned back, looked me up and down, crossed his arms as if we was considering whether or not to sleep with me, too, and said, "For you? For you, 1000 lira" (or whatever it was).
     I stood there, mouth agape, predictably incredulous. I said, "No, not just for me, for everybody."
     "One thousand lira."
     I wasn't sure if I should be reverse-offended -- apparently now I wasn't cute enough to get a discount.
     "Okay." I paid for the stamp, he stamped the letter, then threw it backwards over his shoulder.

Just kidding. He didn't really throw it over his shoulder. But that's sort of what it feels like at an Italian P.O. And the SE Station. Like you're completely shocked when your mail actually makes it out of there and reaches its destination.

Littlehousesl But anyway, never mind about that. What I wanted to say is that aprons are coming to the Posie product line, inspired by this little book, one of my favorites. Remember it? It's The Little House: Her Story by Virgina Lee Burton (1948), a cautionary tale about urban expansion and the dangers of being too curious about life in the big city. My copy was actually mine when I was little, published as part of the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club my mom enrolled me in when I was very small. This book was always a favorite, yet it haunts you; I felt a strange dissatisfaction and unmitigated anxiety at the end when the plan to restore the house to her bucolic lifestyle required jacking her up off her foundation and moving her further out to the country. Even now, upon rereading it, I am much more disturbed than relieved by the solution, feeling its message keenly yet resisting it all the same, thinking, "There has to be a way. We must save the Portland public school system!" (Which, in case you didn't know, is flat-lining, too.)

Littlehousepage So, okay, what this has to do with aprons. Well. Hopefully today I'm going to do some aprons. (Those ones in the picture at the top are vintage and Anthropologie, by the way, and I just keep them on display like that in my bedroom 'cause I think they're so pretty, and I have stacks and stacks of aprons folded elsewhere in the kitchen, and about three or four others being used as curtains in the pantry. So, obviously, let's make more. No, but what's so cool about wearing them over jeans or skirts or whatever is that they don't have to be sized, the way skirts do. When skirts were part of the Posie product line way back when, I loved designing them and I think people loved buying them, but what I didn't like was fitting them (though A-lines tend to fit almost everybody). But I find selling clothing that actually has to fit someone perfectly on-line a bit too challenging. So, aprons, which always fit, and anyway, we should all be wearing way more aprons over our jeans and skirts and dresses anyway because they just look totally adorable, no? I mean, hanging them is cute but wearing them, far beyond the kitchen, is cuter.) And the aprons will have pockets, and on the pockets will be silk-screened one of my favorite quotes, and a little drawing of one of my favorite things, so stay tuned for that.

Wow. Note to self: Start drinking decaf, or get a friend, pronto.

Oh, and honey, if you're reading this before I talk to you, please call the music store where you picked up your French horn yesterday. They want to talk to you.

March 12, 2006

What Happens in the Hallway

DolldressesWhen you live with a nurse, you occasionally get phone calls at 4:45 a.m. asking the nurse if he wants to work that day, or telling him that he doesn't have to. This morning it was the latter.  In the dim light of bedroom dawn, I noticed whitish . . . clumps . . . on the floor next to my bed.  Too tired to care, I lay back down and tried to fall back to sleep to no avail. As it got lighter, we could see what the clumps, connected by long thin lines, actually were: yarn, winding into the bedroom from the hallway, from all the way up the stairs, from around every corner into the downstairs hallway, into the living room, from Andy's chair, where last night he'd been sitting knitting another pill (this one "K," for potassium, a lack of which makes people "floppy," apparently). The dog seemed vaguely obsequious, as if she had her own dim memory of having done something naughty, and knew it would be best to flatter, and look as cute as possible.

Hallway2It seemed like a good time to show you some of the things I've been working on in the hallway. I bought a few decorating books I've been really loving this past week: Style on a Budget and Flea Market Style, both by Emily Chalmers, a London stylist whose aesthetic I really like. The photography, by Debi Treloar, is so lovely and evocative. It's got me trying to go more multi-dimensional than this ubiquitous Pottery-Barn-ish photo wall (though I kind of like the look, and it is a convenient, casual way to display pictures in a really skinny hallway, as ours is). I mean multi-dimensional in a literal way -- like, what's not flat. Little installations, still lifes connected to real life.

HallwaySomething that I really like about having the blog is the way that it causes me to look at things differently than I had been. I organize what I see and what I think about it, and then I put it somewhere (i.e.: in the blog); I find this activity incredibly satisfying and very calming, this ordering of ideas, and images. It makes me think about what kind of stuff hangs around in my life, and it causes me to edit that stuff, the same way that I naturally edit my words and photos in the blog. Having a better-edited space feels to me like having a better-edited life; I know that I am thinking more carefully about what I need, what I let in, what must go, and in almost all cases, "less" has added up to much, much more. Less has been so much better. I sort of distill it now; I strip it, and figure out exactly what it is, and why I have it, and how to present it so that it means something to me. (Excuse the abstract quality of this heavy-handed metaphor, but of course I mean this is true of things both material and not-so-material.) I know, absolutely, that I wasn't doing this before.

Around_the_house_021 When my parents left our childhood home and moved here to Oregon eight years ago, they packed up the house themselves, and I wasn't able to go back to help. They brought us some boxes of stuff, including each of our trunks (given to us when we were very small by our dad; in them we were supposed to keep things that were important to us). I moved the trunk and boxes into my basement, and haven't opened them yet. I feel, most days, that that Pandora's box of memories would be more than I really want to handle. Nevertheless, I do feel strangely disconnected from my childhood without most of my things, without having ever really gone through my things -- I keep thinking that someday there will be a right time for it, and I will know it when it arrives. My mom gave me several of those doll dresses in the photo above the other day. I felt no connection to them at all, even though my mom and my aunt made them, and I apparently played with them. I couldn't remember it. But I don't even care. It makes me happy to have them, and have them out where I see them every day, and know that they were mine. I think that even though I don't remember it, my life now is connected to my life then, elsewhere, long ago, far away, because these souvenirs brighten my wall.

I don't feel like that has to happen a lot, just a little. I have never felt even a twinge of guilt about painting wood trim, or updating a house by remodeling, or any of that kind of stuff. I respect old things, but I don't ever want to live in the past. Nothing feels creepier to me than places that have been "renovated" to be exactly as they were in the past. Oh man, that creeps me out completely, and I don't even understand why anyone would want that, unless it's like a museum, or something. Even when "vintage" goes dusty, or lacy, or Victorian (eeeeww -- I don't even like typing that word -- let's never speak of it again), I get very uncomfortable. I like a combo. Moderation. Margins for error. Empty spaces waiting to be filled. Filled spaces waiting to be changed. Always, always an empty drawer, in case a new craft project appeals and needs a place to be stored while in progress.

February 25, 2006

Another Picture for Stephanie

Roomfloor This is another picture for Stephanie. It's the side of my bed this morning. Stephanie was (naturally) worried that every time one opens a cabinet in my house mushrooms and beret-wearing eggs smile back at you. I had to take this picture because otherwise Steph might (naturally) stop speaking to me. I would. But there really is a monster that lives under my side of the bed and it sucks up books and catalogs and then spits them out regularly, oh and a shoe, too, no matter what I do to try and tame it. Can you still love me, Stephanie?

I'm feeling blue today, I don't know why. I think it has something to do with working so many Saturdays. Also, what is up with that a-hole Donald Trump? What a freak. I mean, Martha's no saint, but calm down, spaz. Also, I forgot to mention it yesterday but I was pretty sad about Sasha. Dangit. She certainly did have a different look in her eye on Thursday. It was almost like she was relieved to have fallen. But we love her. Also, I feel very behind in everything, including paying bills and doing taxes, that it just makes me want to run howling to . . . somewhere else. They don't have to pay bills in fantasyland-country, right? There's no such thing there, or something?

February 23, 2006

Pincushions, Pinafore, and Home

Pincushions_1 Ugh -- I have lo-mo today. Low motivation. The hubby, on the other hand, is highly motivated. Up at the crack of dawn, coffee racing through his veins, he had folded one  four loads (I stand corrected) of laundry by the time I stumbled downstairs at seven, where he greeted me joyfully at about 4-5 times his natural volume (which is high). The man is noisy. Everywhere he goes, noise. And chatter. Along with whistling. And joyful screaming for the dog to follow. As well as exclamations over her cuteness. And invitations for me to agree about how cute she is. And wonderings about whether I've looked at her in the last ten minutes? I haven't, no, but I can safely guess that she is still very, very cute. I try not to speak, generally, until after 9 a.m. It's just . . . better for everyone that way. I really missed him. It's so good to have him home.

We saw Nanny McPhee yesterday afternoon -- so fun! Cool movie. Amazingly cool set design and costumes, and all the color in this sort of super-saturated story-bookish way. I loved it. Evangeline, the scullery maid, wears the cutest, cutest, cutest pinafore/apron. I got this one at the doll and teddy bear show here in Portland over the weekend. Dolls actually scare the bejeezus out of me, generally speaking, and doll shows are . . . pretty scary too, I must say. It was my first one. I got this little pinafore there, though, in honor of my bags, as well as these little velvet strawberries. Oh, and this itty-bitty birdcage. I guess it must be a dollhouse birdcage? Now, dollhouses I like.

Flowers_1 I've been thinking about what to make for Plush You II, and I'm thinking, after seeing the movie yesterday and sort of having this idea kicking around my head for a while, about stuffed houses. Kelly (who is a fantastic writer) at Her Able Hands wrote something really beautiful yesterday about the connection between house . . . and life . . . and things . . . and thoughts. I think about houses a lot. I have a disability and can't do a lot of what I want to do, so my house is, in many ways, my world. When you are disabled, the world, the outside world, sort of controls you. At least, it does me. It tires and challenges me to the point of tears some days, just doing normal things. Streets and neighborhoods and states that were easy adventures to navigate becomes wildnernesses, blackberry brambles, cities of endless limping steps. But my little house relieves me. It lets me be the real me, the one I want to be, not the one who stumbles around in pain. It's not perfect by any means; it's just a work in progress, like anything, everything else. But I try to treasure it, since I wanted it so badly. I try not to take it for granted. When you see pictures of my house, you should probably know that it is my substitute planet. Also, I grew up in the hometown of Frank Lloyd Wright, so maybe house-obsession is in the drinking water there.

Look, flowers on the plum tree in front! Spring is coming!

February 18, 2006

Worried Pets

Audreyviolet This is a picture for Andy. Honey, this is a picture of how the pets look when you're gone. 2/3 of them have turned into little old men, anxiously staring out windows, awaiting your return. 1/3 of them (not pictured -- as you said, taking a pic of Bridget is like taking a picture of a fairy) are completely oblivious; in fact, I did see her flutter by this morning so I know she's still here, but I don't think she's pining for you, somehow. Big surprise. Violet (cat) actually hasn't much left this spot (though we've run out of her little foil bags of food and it's freezing here, so I am too lazy to go to the store -- she's eating dry Iams until it warms up), and Audrey (dog) refuses to sleep upstairs. This is also for anyone who might have been wondering why I'm not allowed to have nice pillows. As if that weren't extremely obvious. Good thing she's so damn cute.

We miss you, hon!!! We really miss you!!!

February 17, 2006

Dishy

Towels2 Here's me, last Sunday, standing at the cash register at the antique mall, to myself, out loud: "Oh, I don't know what to do! I really want these! But they're $45! But I want them. But I shouldn't have them. They're in perfect condition. I want them! How cute are these! They go with my kitchen! But of course I'd never use them. That's just wrong. I can't have them! But I want them! Oh no what do I do!"

This little performance was accompanied by me sort of marching in place anxiously and flinging my hands to my cheeks dramatically and the salesgirl staring at me with pure loathing and impatience. She betrayed not one hint of advice or encouragement. She was wearing a black corset that actually looked very cool in a not-too-Victorian way. I thought about complimenting her but she didn't like me and I could see that only getting my hiney out of there would change that. Occasionally she looked past me hopefully, to see if anyone else was waiting to check out. They were not. I could not be rushed or intimidated; I stood there for ten solid minutes. Eventually someone else did want to check out and I said, "Okay fine! These too!" and shoved them toward her. My sister gave me a set of day-of-the-week dishtowels once and I got really weird about using the towels only on the day indicated; like, if it was a Tuesday but the only towel in the drawer said "Friday" I would become sort of twitchy and worried that I shouldn't use it, and grab a big handful of paper towels. I have some weird ticks. Another is standing and watching the blinking stoplight four blocks away from my upstairs bathroom window; if I see it blink once, I have to stand there and wait for it to blink three times before I move. It sucks. I love these towels a whole lot; I could save myself the OCD moment and just not use them -- they would get so trashed here. They're all hand done.

Anyhoo, you're sick of me now, too, no doubt. I know. I'm even driving myself crazy lately. Kitchen spaces are not my natural territory, but every couple of months I seem to make a push to reclaim them, somehow, in the hopes that I can figure it out; there is no single exchange that makes me want to scream like "What should we do for dinner?"-"I don't know, what do you want?"-"I don't know" does.  Thank you to everyone who commented on the pantry stuff, and to Meggiecat, who always knows where the good stuff is, including new shelf edging (dare I go to Wal-Mart?), and to Donna for the Martha pantry list, am ambitious array of provisions to be sure! As Donna says, "I would feel triumphant if I had a fourth of the ingredients on hand at any given time." Me too. Here's hoping.

Oh -- and Fred Flare just announced the call for entries for the Next Big Thing 2006, if you can stand the heat in that kitchen. I'm also so loving their interview with MS Kids editor-in-chief Jodi Levine. I love her.

February 16, 2006

Pantry Lovin'

Cabinet2_2 When I was a child, friends' houses that I played in had things like pantries, butler's pantries (these are the absolute best), sleeping porches, and breezeways. My house didn't have any of these things, but I dreamt of them, and even now there is a charm and nostalgia about the words that comforts me, and suggests plenitude and shelter. The names for these spaces imply a sort of homey abundance that, say, the more-contemporary "great room" just doesn't, somehow. My Loloko stuff I ordered from Laura came a few days ago -- can you spot it in this, my newly reorganized kitchen cabinet? I love it all, though I have to say my favorite is the beret-wearing egg-y creature with the word "FRANCE" stamped across his abdomen (next to the baking soda). I think I have something on back-order, but I can't remember what. Who cares -- I know it will be cute! I reorganized my cabinet just for you, Laura! Really makes me feel like baking something, actually, when it's all neatened like this. I keep crushed peanuts in that teacup for my ice cream sundaes. Oh -- and the answer to yesterday's pink pleated thing? I think it's shelf edging, but it would be cute as cake-plate edging, too. It's actually vintage, and plastic, and printed with this teeny-tiny houndstooth pattern, and there is about 18 feet of it. Might redo this scallop eyelet edging with it, which has been up for six years and is getting a tad grimy. Is there even such a thing as contemporary shelf edging? I like the stuff.

Pantry2 Though our little house doesn't have an official pantry (let alone a butler's pantry, sleeping porch, or breezeway -- I wish), we do have a mud room, a very tiny mud room, which was created when the previous owner built the addition which was his painting studio. They sort of left the original back door and wall of the house and built a little rectangled room off of it, so we have, like, two back doors, and an interior window within a couple of feet of each other. They did kind of a half-assed job of everything. Every time I go to the football-field-of-hell that is Home Depot I see all the things -- tiles, handles, flooring -- we have in our house, picked out by the previous owner (who was leasing the place out as a rental), and it is the cheapest possible crap, installed in every crooked, half-assed way you can think of. It drives me crazy that everything he installed is crooked, including the bathroom sink. We put a big baker's shelf thing in the mud room a couple of years ago and turned it into the pantry, which is why I have (somewhat embarrassingly) room to display cute critters and cupcake papers in my kitchen cabinet (above). I don't want you to think it will really stay looking like that for long or anything. That's why I took a picture of it, because it will only look that way for the length of time the shutter is open. All of the unopened food is in the mud room/pantry. Through the interior window (from inside the bathroom) I took this pic of my apron curtain for Amy K.

Pantry8 The room is so skinny it's impossible to get in there, really, but I love having it. Julie and Julia were making me feel a little bit bad about letting it turn into kind of a jumbled mess in the last few months -- I think I might look for one of those lists of things that you should always have in there, too. I'm sure Martha must have a list like that somewhere? Yesterday morning I went back and re-stacked all those cans and boxes. It's very satisfying work. I was shocked to see how much stuff we really had. Why do I, every time I have to make dinner, think we don't have anything to make? Clearly we have four bags of brown sugar and three bags of powdered sugar!!! What the . . . ? I also found Raviolios and Spaghettios in there. I swear those are not mine!!! The tapioca pudding is mine. Yum.

January 26, 2006

A Picture For Stephanie

ForstephanieStephanie has the prettiest pictures on her blog right now for Corners of My Home. They made me think of this one, which is not my home, but Country Home -- March 2005. This picture is stuck in my memory -- I knew exactly where to look to find it (a miracle). I can never seem to make my walls look elegant and spare instead of just unfinished and bare, but Stephanie and CH clearly have the touch. It's so inspiring to think that less can be so much more evocative and lovely than more.

Also, Miss Kraf-o-la Karen invited me to elaborate on some of my other inspirations recently. I'm always very flattered and a little embarrassed to be asked, but I loved her questions. Thank you for including me, Karen.

Is anyone else as busy and behind in things as I am? I can't seem to get it together lately. Maybe it's because I keep waking up at 2 a.m. unable to sleep. By 8:30 a.m. I'm like, "My God, what's for lunch?" And then by 6:30 p.m. I'm actually wondering if I'll make it through the second Judge Judy without doing a faceplant into the couch. Tonight I'm staying up until 10, no matter what.

January 16, 2006

Corners and Questions

Corner4 Uncharacteristic efficiency. Here, in one post, is one of my "corners" for Soulemama's fun assignment (as usual, not sure what "day" this was supposed to happen, Amanda), Lisa's pillow included (oh how cool it is -- thanks again, L -- just have to commit to a spot for the little collage now, can't decide exactly where), and my answers to Sarah's tag. I've never been "tagged" before, so I hope I did this (and tagged my taggees) correctly. (I keep seeing the word "meme" and I don't really know what that is, but maybe this is it. Also, I apologize to anyone who's invited me to join a Flickr group; I neglect Flickr and my in-box over there quite a bit, unfortunately, though I always enjoy playing with it when I have extra time. I haven't managed to figure out how to tag [different kind of tag] things so that they show up in the "groups" they are supposed to, etc. I don't know why this seems hard for me; I think I just haven't read it carefully enough.) Anyway, it's kind of fun to pick favorites for a list. I always mean to invent one of my own sometime, and include things like Something I Know How to Do Better than Anyone: Set up sprinkler so that it hits only the lawn, and not any of the sidewalk. If I'd Only Had More _____ , My Life Would Be So Different: Hair. Anyhoo.

Four jobs you've had:
Candy girl at the Lake Theater, Oak Park, IL (loved it)
Waitress at Gepetto's, also Oak Park (loved it)
Administrative Assistant, Missoula, MT (LOATHED it)
Book Editor, Portland, OR (loved it)

Four movies you would watch over and over again:
Wedding Crashers (new)
Seems Like Old Times (old)
Waking the Dead (serious)
Meet the Parents (gets funnier every time)

Four places you've lived:
River Forest, Illinois
Rock Island, Illinois
Missoula, Montana
Portland, Oregon

Four TV shows you love to watch:
Gilmore Girls
Arrested Development
Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe
Veronica Mars

Four places you have been on vacation:
Manistique, Michigan
Toronto and Montreal, Canada
Europe and the U.K.
San Diego, California

Four web sites you visit daily:
Well, none daily, I must admit. But I try to keep up with the blogs on my list pretty regularly ;-)

Four favorite foods:
Stuffed shells
Green curry shrimp
Flan
Spinach souffle

Four places I'd rather be:
Italy
Lying on a beach somewhere, anywhere, warm
At the library
With my high-school girlfriends at Tasty Dog

Four bloggers I'm tagging:
Amy P.
Mary 
Laura
Blair

You're it!

December 30, 2005

January Toss

Dressers6 Though not quite January, the Tossing is already in effect (thank you Erica for that apt descriptor -- I'd never heard it before but I'm now going to go around saying it to myself daily). Yesterday, I got two new dressers. How excited was I. These are my first grown-up dressers, believe it or not, and the sock, underwear, and t-shirt tossing that went on yesterday afternoon was like early New Year's Eve in Times Square -- the hooting, the tossing, the exclamations. "I'm going to have a drawer just for my bathing suits!" shouted I.
     "How many bathing suits do you have?" said he.
     "Two!!!"

It turns out that I actually didn't wind up having room for a bathing suit drawer, after all, but never mind. I couldn't have been happier. All my clothes fit beautifully in these two pieces -- hardwooded with dovetailed joints and brand new knobs -- and my newly cleaned up closet. When everything was refolded, extra unworn stuff turned out, and all placed in neat stacks and on its own hangers, it became very clear: I don't need any new clothes, I needed new dressers. I counted 47 skirts. That seems excessive, actually. But I love skirts and made (or designed) most of them myself so it was nice to see them hanging so expectantly again. Previous to yesterday they had been folded up willy-nilly and stuffed into one of those hanging shoe bag things. That's just wrong.

Childhoodbedroom It's unbelievable how happy storage makes me. I sat for about 45 minutes on the dog's bed and stared at my dressers in a state of utter peace and joy. I'm not kidding. When I mentioned in a previous post about the background in photos being a singularly reliable way of remembering how it was, and perhaps indicating something about how it will be, I was thinking entirely about this picture. It's my sister Julie in our childhood bedroom circa summer 1994, right before we both left home. When I look at this picture even now, I remember the panic I felt in that clutter then; our house was 1,200 square feet (and over 100 years old, with only two closets in the entire place), and five of us lived there for over twenty years (my parents for almost thirty). My sisters and I shared a room for much of that time, well into high school and vacations from college. I wish I could say that this particular picture shows something unusually cramped about the state of our quarters in general, but it doesn't; it's quite an average glimpse, and yes those are her dresses hanging from the ceiling. My childhood dream, aside from wanting a horse, was to have a small, empty desk with a few sharpened pencils and a banker's lamp where I could do my homework. I had gotten a Laura Ashley decorating catalog somewhere around eighth grade, and I bonded with it so ferociously that those lightened, calico-ed spaces imprinted themselves and became synonymous with my vision -- both childhood and adult -- of comfort and order and serenity, and happiness.

I love my new dressers. Thank you so much, lovely husband, loveliest of people, for this early birthday present. You see me as no one else ever has.

December 29, 2005

A good notion said Mr Salteena

Studiomag "Ethels room was indeed a handsome compartment with purple silk curtains and a 4 post bed draped with the same shade. The toilit set was white and mouve and there were some violets in a costly varse. Oh I say cried Ethel in supprise. I am glad you like it said Bernard and here we have yours Alf. He opened the dividing doors and portrayed a smaller but dainty room all in pale yellow and wild primroses. My own room is next the bath room said Bernard it is decerated dark red as I have somber tastes. The bath room has got a tip up bason and a hose thing for washing your head. A good notion said Mr Salteena who was secretly getting jellus."
     -- Daisy Ashford (aged 9) from The Young Visiters, 1919; via The Sweet Life: Reflections on Home and Garden (Chronicle, 2001)

This photo (if you click on it, I think it will look nicer) has been stuck in my imagination for a while. From the December 2004 issue of Martha Stewart Living in an article about calligraphy, this pretty collection is my new inspiration for repainting and reorganizing the studio. Thank you to everyone who suggested places to look for ideas; I love seeing people's work spaces more than anything. I find keeping craft and sewing supplies organized to be an absolutely daunting and hellish task. The potential for it all to turn into a yarny, tangled, unfolded mess is just so huge, at least for me. I'll admit this pic is a bit precious and unrealistic -- multiply each of these genres of supplies by about 40 and you'll get a sense of the sheer volume of stuff I have, and none of it near so charming. But wouldn't a little mug of colorful knitting needles (surrounded by at least a 12-inch no-clutter zone) on my desk be a simple, cheerful goal? I could sit and look at it and think adorably, "Now, what shall I knit to-day?" Yes. That's what I want.

Isn't it weird that we find ourselves so utterly ready for a little paring down and reconfiguring in January? I feel like this happens to me without fail every single year. I mean, I know it's cliched, but the urge is nonetheless and relentlessly there. A good notion said Mr. Salteena. Now, where is the energy to match?

December 28, 2005

Antiques, and Not Antiques

Blueygreenpottery72dpi It's disturbing how lazy one can become in so little time. I was supposed to be working on our belated Christmas cards this week -- I've been horridly tardy on these for years now, and I know there are family and friends out there who think we don't care about them anymore. I hope they aren't reading this, the evidence of my sloth. Left to my own devices, I've done nothing but putter around for the past two days, shuffling through my regular antique shopping venues, vaguely looking for my usual favorites: aqua blue creamers under $8, charming children's planters under $12 (I'm extremely picky about these and feel they have to have very cute personalities before I'll even consider turning them over to see the price), buttons still on sweetly illustrated cards (these I cherish, but can't really afford), teensy tiny chairs, and '40s-'60s sewing patterns. Today, the creamer in the foreground for $4, and a dozen or so vintage doll-dress and Barbie-clothes patterns from the '50s. It's been fun to just slip-slap around aimlessly -- the stores are rather empty and picked over, so you really have to dig, which I don't mind and actually prefer.

One thing I noticed was the vaguely disturbing trend for the dealers to include lots of reproductions in their settings, alongside the actual antiques. In fact, some booths offered mostly new stuff, styled to look old. Much of it I recognize from looking at manufacturer's catalogs and magazines, but if I didn't know better, I would be fooled. (Please note, I'm not a professional antique-r by any means, of course, just someone who appreciates things from other lives.) Nevertheless, it seems like the dealers should be required to indicate on their tags when something is reproduction, I think? I don't know if there are rules among the malls about this, but I know that as a shopper, I found myself completely skipping booths where I could see lots of new things whose tags didn't indicate their contemporary provenance. I guess it's my own fault if I don't know the dif, but I just didn't want to have to think that hard (on vacation, lazy, etc.).

The quilt in the background of this photo was made by my husband's grandma, the aforementioned Ruth of the brooch on my sister-in-law-made neckerchief. She had given him her car in the late '80s, before he left for college, and this quilt was in the trunk. I'm not quite sure when it was made; I'm guessing '60s? I don't really know what a postage-stamp quilt looks like, but I'm guessing, this. Although he (I) got it by slippery default, it has become a bit of a cornerstone in my collection of vintage stuff and in my style in general -- I appreciate it more than ever, almost fifteen years since. Picture me hugging it with eyes closed and a Snoopy-ish jig happening below and you'll see how I feel about it.

It's inspiring to me because a) it's not square -- it's trying to be square, but it is most definitely rhombuzoid; b) it's comprised of so many bright and clashing colors, which I would never do naturally but, it turns out, the freedom inherent in that is what I love most about this thing; so, a lesson there; and c) it's is the work of someone who liked tough little things. These squares are each about a finished square inch. Can you imagine? And they are zig-zagged within an inch of their lives. This is the sturdiest quilt I have ever seen, and I take that greatly to heart.

December 26, 2005

Before, During, and After

Livingroom_3Before: All is calm, all is bright.

Blurrypresents_2During: Quick kids a-blur opening presents on a slow shutter speed.

Snuggledpups_2 After: Pups, all snug in their beds, waiting for Santa.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

December 19, 2005

Oh the Weather Outside Was Frightful!

Ardenmakinghouse_1 But we had no place to go, and were fine with the snow! My dream came true and we actually had a snowstorm yesterday. I didn't even realize it until it had been happening for 15 minutes at least, so busy was I, cleaning the kitchen and putting candies in little bowls for our gingerbread houses. When I saw, I immediately went back to the kitchen and cranked up the hot cider. Now it really, really feels like Christmas and I am happy.

Ardenshouse_1 Uncle Andy was not so happy about this, and slid down Pill Hill in Mr. Pringles (my sister and brother-in-law's yellow wagon) and left it downtown, eager to bus it the rest of the way. By the time he got home at 9:30 p.m. (a 15-hour day) he was not half so happy as we were, gingerbread houses made, slippers on, and us tucked upstairs reading about the Brambly Hedge mice preparing for the Snow Ball.

Poor Uncle Andy, back at work today, too. There's slushy ice and thick gray skies -- who knows what weather awaits. Portland is ill-equipt to handle such storms -- it is hilly, and gets icy, and dangerous, so it takes very little for me to decide to stay in, no matter what I "need" to do. I'm about to hit the sofa with a Fair Isle sock on my double-points and some banana bread from the neighbors. I'm gonna squeeze every minute I can out of this one, to be sure.

December 12, 2005

Winter Afternoon

Winterafternoon The rare occasion of a quiet afternoon is such a treat. There is something so peaceful about the house in winter, with no TV, no radio, no hustle and bustle; it is rarely this way. I am not a napper -- in fact, I probably haven't taken a nap in the afternoon since toddlerhood, but I wish I'd thought of it today. Instead, we finally got out to see Pride and Prejudice. We are unabashed fans of the genre. Andy loved the movie, and appreciates such different details than I do -- the long, patient shot that starts on Lizzie, moves through the house, touches on all residents, then comes back to her, peeking into the house; the sturdy responsible-ness and apparent business acumen of the petulant Mr. Darcy; the sound of birds in scenes taking place indoors with open windows. It was really a lovely film, and has taken the lead on his list of 19th-century English novel-films. My fave is still the highly addictive Wives and Daughters by Mrs. Gaskell, but I am totally crazy about Justine Waddell (who plays Molly Gibson, the main character), which might have something to do with that. I prefer the film to the book, actually, but if you haven't yet caught either, I highly recommend both.

PillowcaseIn 19th-century novels, every time Our Heroine refers to embroidery as a sort of insipid, ridiculous occupation for a woman, I feel a bit hurt, I must admit, though I understand this attitude is quite forward-thinking for Her. But I'm not much good at recognizing the political context of any of my little occupations. I just like pretty things, and I like my initials on stuff, and I love birds. The embroidery part just keeps me out of trouble. But Trouble is usually Our Heroine's middle name, no? That's why we love Her so much.

December 09, 2005

Medi Cabi Peeking

Cabinet1_3

Friday afternoon. I was able to get all my orders boxed and wrapped by noon and have been milling around the house, happier than I could have imagined to be out of the shop and studio for the next three and a half days. I've taken the rest of the afternoon off in preparation for a little dinner party I'm having tonight: individual bechamel lasagnas, Nigella's Chocolate Cloud Cake, easy stuff I've made several times, historically successful party fare.

Cabinet2_3 Suddenly, we're getting wi-fi in the house -- new neighbors? I'm not sure. I've gotten to catch up on some internet stuff it's been fun to look at, like Fred Flare's slide show of NYC department store windows (not great quality photos but still neat to look at if you're craving city stuff), and Camilla Engman's gorgeous little shop in Sweden. Since I'm trying to clean up the house for our little dinner tonight, I brought the camera upstairs to take a pic of the cabi (not, I must admit, unaware of the cliched but very real possibility that it might be opened by a non-resident later that night), and contribute to her clever "Peeping" photo series (a bit late, but so it goes). I was struck by something Amy said the other day about documenting  and organizing life as a way of participating in it (she said it much better, as you'll see). It would not in a million years occur to me to take a picture of my cabinet. But as I snapped this one, I remembered how my dad always encouraged me to take pictures of the places I live in. (Actually, I think he was more yelling at me for not having any pictures of somewhere that I'd lived.) But I think he was just talking about how to . . . acknowledge . . . and mitigate . . . the fleetingness of time and the unreliability of memory. The clutter of our daily lives is almost invisible to us in the present moment; and yet, I can't help but snap this picture with an awareness that, someday in the future, the quotidian ingredients that peek out from the background of my story will be the very things that remind me of who I was, and help me make sense of who I am, and, even, who I might later be.

December 08, 2005

My Studio, December 8, 2005

Studio_2

It's a hideous mess. Even Audrey looks vaguely disappointed. This is what Christmastime around here looks like in the studio.

If you happened to be at the SE 7th Avenue P.O. yesterday morning, or the morning before that, or even the morning before that, and you saw a lady carrying more boxes than you would think it possible for one person to carry, especially through a non-automatic door, and then having a temper tantrum when she discovered once again that the "automated" postal center was mysteriously out of order and there were, once again, only two postal workers behind the counter to help the 25 people standing in line, my apologies. I'm really sorry you had to see that. Something happens to me when I enter that building. . . .

If, however, you are one of the people whose name and address was on one of the boxes, then you should be getting some felt any day now -- unless you live in England or Denmark. Those will be mailed today. I ran out of time to write notes, but I hope that you have fun making stuff with it! If you didn't get in on the giveaway, I'm going to be putting Posie Scrap Bags together for sale on the site in 2006, and they'll include all sorts of felt, fabric, flowers, ribbons, and papery extras from the above-pictured hive. I'll let you know when they're ready. I think Audrey will approve of that tack to get this place back in shape.

November 29, 2005

A Flow'ret Bright

Village I love my little mantle village. Several of these sweet little abodes were my Grandma Ieronemo's, my sweet little Italian grandma, who wore house-dresses made of calico trimmed with bias binding, who had a plastic holder for her milk carton, who was so shy she almost couldn't bear to be photographed. At family parties, I remember her sitting shyly off to one side with her coat on, her little legs crossed at the ankles, her hands folded over her purse in her lap, as if one of the relatives might make off with it. She adored my father, her only and very-late-in-life child, and I remember her flustered, waving her hands around, laughing "Mickey, Mickey, put her down!" (my dad's name was Al, but his parents and their friends called him Mickey) as my dad would lift each of us in turn with one hand, straight up over his head. Oh, he provoked her. She could hardly get the words out for fear, so convinced he would drop us, bang on our heads.

My grandparents owned a big old city apartment building on Oak Park Avenue, across the street from St. Edmund's Church and School. I lived here until I was three, and then I moved a couple of miles away to River Forest, but my grandparents continued to live in the buidling for several years after that, and their big living-room window faced the street and the church. I spent a lot of time in my grandma's apartment. At Christmastime, the church set up a life-size nativity scene in the churchyard. I don't know if they still do this, but I hope so. It was illuminated at night, and against the backdrop of that lovely Gothic-y church and rectory, there was nothing prettier, especially when it snowed. Before I was old enough to go to school, I watched the uniformed kids cross the street on their way to St. Edmund School with its wrought-iron-fenced courtyard and enormous doors, and I prayed to age quickly so I could go too. It has been my lifelong dream to wear a school uniform, though I never have. We got married at St. Edmund's in 1997, and the photographer balked when I staged a pic with my grandma and grandpa's building in the background. It is the only picture, out of hundreds taken that day, that I  truly love and where I think I look just like myself. My grandparents died when I was in high school.

My grandma had a white feather tree, and she kept it on a short, square glass table in the living room. On the tree, no disheveled handmade ornies for her; I remember only royal blue balls evenly spaced, and not the glass kind, the kind that are wrapped in some kind of fiber, like angel hair. Is that right? It's how I remember it, at least. The ornaments are long gone. The village sat under the tree on a snow blanket, and there were a dozen houses and lots of little trees, and a tiny mirror-pond with two metal skaters, frozen in permanent glide. I think this tree would be so fashionable now, though my grandma was homey and practical and seemed to eschew fanciness. As with so much else, her mysteries reveal themselves to me in time.

I have several things of my grandma's. Four paper houses from her original village -- the others in my scene are antiques I picked up or new reproductions -- and a few green bottle brush trees. A Red Riding Hood cookie jar, which always held those crunchy, ribbed coconut cookies from Dominick's. And a funny little purple calico drawstring bag. It closes with a crackly golden tie, and holds my crochet hooks, just like it held hers. Her name was Archangelina, for the archangel. But they just called her Angie.

October 28, 2005

Inspiration Assault

Art_dreamsofparis_lg We're doing a painting series, Andy and I, for our big olive-y green hallway, currently devoid of art. We just repainted the hallway, and I love the color. We bought a few dozen 8 x 8-inch canvases, and all the little bottles of acrylic paint we could allow ourselves, and we plan to have all our friends over some Sunday afternoon to make paintings for us. Doesn't that sound like fun? Make chili and sour cream apple pie, set everyone up with a canvas and brush, and let them paint whatever they want. We don't care what they paint as long as they enjoy it, of course. Andy has big plans to offer silk-screening services to anyone who is inclined to do a paint-by-number, so be thinking of your design now. . . .

I don't know how to paint, but I always think that it sounds like a lot of fun, and I love having real paintings in the house. This little collage is my first foray onto the 8 x 8 canvases -- I gave it to my dear sweet friend Aimee M. for her birthday last week. Somehow Aimee became connected to the idea of the Eiffel Tower -- she wears a teeny-tiny one with a teeny-tiny diamond around her neck -- a few years ago, and I liked the dreamy quality of this for her in particular. I really enjoyed making the painting, and finding things to use on it. I think what keeps me from doing it more often is getting all the stuff out and then putting it all away, etc. It's not the stuff (i.e., yarn) that I usually have out, so it actually seems harder to find the supplies (which seem to live in all corners of the house) and the paintbrush I want and get everything set up than it is to make the painting itself, I think. Good grief. Maybe it's just me.

1000patterns_1 Figuring out what to put on the canvas is not a problem now. This fantastic book from Chronicle came in the mail the other day, and it is filled with so many clever and fascinating patterns, most of which are displayed in squares. How convenient for me! It contains textile and decorative patterns throughout the centuries from various cultures around the world, and it is fascinating to see the differences and similarities between them.

I also spent a long, long, super-fun afternoon on Wednesday at Uwajimaya, the giant Asian grocery store in suburban Portland, perusing Japanese lifestyle and craft books, and Asian packaging design in general. Oh my goodness gracious. The mind reels at Uwajimaya. I actually started to feel lightheaded and overwhelmed in the grocery aisle -- we didn't know what anything was or what to do with it, but we desperately wanted to know. We wanted to take things home and just look at them. We wished for a guided tour. The bookstore there is where I go when I need a hit of inspiration -- and I do mean hit. It's like an anvil of adorableness dropping on your head. There is a book called Fresh Fruits that we couldn't stop looking at. It was a collection of photos of Japanese street fashion, with comments from the wearers about what they were wearing. My favorite was the girl who said her whole outfit was choreographed so that she could wear the tiny adorable vintage apron she had on over her jeans. Her "current obsession"? Fake birthday parties. Ohmigod. Are you kidding me? I love this book. I wish I had gotten it. I kept holding up books to Andy and saying, "Look at this. Can you believe this one? Can you believe this one?" And he said, "Well look at how incredibly cute all the stuff for little Japanese girls is! Is it any surprise that they grow up to make incredibly cool things?"

No. No surprise at all. Couldn't-a said it better myself.

October 05, 2005

The Opal Month of the Year

Ah, October already. It's hard to believe that summer really is over, for some reason. I don't know why it always takes me so long to come to grips. This fall in Portland has been particularly sweet so far -- cool and crisp with lots of swirling leaves and even a few frosty mornings when woodsmoke has been in the air and the dog stands, unwilling, at the back door -- she does hate having cold paws. I try to shoo her out, but she prefers to plaster herself against me on the couch while I have my coffee. My ambitions run simple: Basic groceries? Check. Bills paid? Yup. House fairly clean? Um, sure. Now: time for knitting socks on the couch and watching Alias from the beginning. That's all I really want to do -- curl up and play with yarny things.

Truth be told, we've just come out of a serious domestic quarters' reorganization: repainting, redecorating, going through closets, donating a huge number of books and clothes. Feeling lighter, I consider the possibilities inherent in empty space. My books, categorized and shelved attractively, wait to be used. My clothes, warm old friends, actually fit in the closet. Can these really be my spaces? This tidyness will not last (historically, we are more of a binge and purge family, letting things get completely overrun and then flinging half of it away in a frenzy of frustration and good intentions) but oh how I love the honeymoon period, when everything is perfect.

We're getting the shop dressed pretty for fall, too, as our new products slowly but surely fill up the shelves. Posie felted bags,  tons of newBla Bla stuffies, incredible body care confections from Jaqua Beauty (like Chai Spice Latte shower syrup and the classic favorite Buttercream Frosting body butter), lots of crochetwear -- all have just come in and won't be around for long. I am stopping myself from taking it all home for personal indulgence. On Saturday, we're having a trunk show for one of our favorite jewelry designers, Penny Carter. She'll be here from 11-3 p.m. with tons of gorgeous new jewels for fall, and 10% of the proceeds will be donated to Mercy Corps for hurricane relief.

Come and join us. We'd love to see you. And I promise, Posie sneak peeks coming soon (she said, determinedly). As soon as I get off the couch. . . .