Monday, February 24, 2014

DIY Art Project, Bathroom Edition

So we are happily ensconced in our new town and settled into our little rental house, as it turns out, for another two years.  Since we had to short sell our house upon leaving L.A., we can't get another mortgage for three years after the sell of the house.  Bummer.  But really fine.  It gives us more time to save and find the right house for us.

So in the meantime, our rental house is darling and in a neighborhood that we love, and our landlords are actual wonderful, nice people (as opposed to some cold rental management company).  And while the house is old and has suffered some wear over the years from past renters, there were a few cosmetic things that were starting to bother me about living here.  But as a renter, there's only so much you can do that is not a big expenditure and that will be removable upon vacating the premises.

The door in my bathroom was one such irk.  The bathroom is a thoroughfare room so it has two doors.  The bothersome door leads to another room, which leads to the backyard.  The door has window panes to keep the light flowing through the windowless bathroom, and had a sad kind of blue gingham check curtain covering the panes to protect the privacy of the person using the bathroom.  It collects dust and makes the room seem more closed in than it actually is.

I had bought these interesting ephemera papers involving birds and butterflies from a frame store in town months ago, not having any idea what I was going to do with them, just that they looked old and beautiful.  And then it dawned on me that I could decoupage the glass.  It's only paper -- it will be removable when we leave if the new tenants or owners desire, or can be covered up with the crappy curtain again.

And so I got the Mod Podge and got to work.  

At first I tried to cut the papers to fit the panes exactly, but this proved to be too difficult.  I wanted absolutely no gaps around the edges and I could see that getting the measurements and cutting exactly perfect every time was just not going to happen.  And I would have to cut across some of the images in the paper that I loved the most.  So I ended up cutting different pictures from the papers and just pasting them where I thought they should go, filling in any gaps with more pieces.

 The process was actually very relaxing and therapeutic.  I would lose track of time, and found it to be the perfect rainy day activity.

 When the sun shines through, it almost has a stained glass effect, which I love.

And the butterfly pictures are slightly creepy, which helped to balance out the girly sweetness of the bird pictures.
I love how it turned out.  I was concerned it would be too busy, and there is a lot to look at when you are sitting there doing your business, but it doesn't bother me since I have kept the rest of the walls pretty bare.

Next decoupage project:  Superhero comic book dresser for the boys' room!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Heart You, SLO

Well, it's been over a year now, and I feel pretty confident in saying that I absolutely adore our new little town.  It's funny how fast the move happened and how resolute I was in our decision to move to San Luis Obispo.  In hindsight, it took a lot of balls -- uprooting the family and moving to a place where I did not know a soul.  But never has my intuition guided me so fiercely.  I simply knew on the deepest level that this was the best place for us.  And though I will always be grateful I got to grow up in the Valley and live out my crazy wild years in L.A., it's odd -- one day I woke up and realized that L.A. is not The Center Of The Universe.  I don't feel like I am missing out on anything (other than my friends and family).  And then everything started happening, guiding us to this place.  I will always love L.A. for making me the person I am today, and there was a time in my life I could never have imagined living anywhere else on the planet.  But now I love it in the way you love a crazy drama relative -- I love it and always will because it's in my blood, but am grateful for the distance.

Getting settled was not easy.  There were many times I called my girlfriends crying because I felt so lost.  There was a profound sadness on some days that I imagine can only be understood by someone living, for the first time, far away from your family and closest friends.  But then I would step outside my front door and breathe in the fresh air and see the hills in the distance and that sadness would get kicked to the curb.  I tried not to dwell and I embraced instead.  And my new town embraced me back.  Here is what I have consistently found to be true about living here so far:

1.  Everybody, everywhere you go, looks you in the eye and smiles and says hello.  Walking down the street, schlepping up the hiking trail, in the aisle at the grocery store, at school drop-off, seriously, EVERYWHERE YOU GO, young kids or old guys or any age in between, male or female, even on bike or behind the cash register, everybody looks at you and smiles and says hi or gives the "what's up" nod.  You can't imagine how much this means to me, being a life-long smiley person who is used to being met with either a mad-dog stare or a "she must be crazy or stupid" look, and rarely a smile and hello in return.  Now it's the other way around.  If I encounter someone who doesn't smile and say hello, they are in the glaring minority and something must be wrong with them.  It is awesome.  It's such a small thing that takes virtually no time or energy to do, yet it immediately connects you with your surroundings and community in a positive way and just makes you feel safe.  It's neighborly.  It makes it super easy to make friends.  I'm not really one for small talk, but I have always loved pleasantries and don't understand why it's not like this everywhere.  I don't know if it's because SLO is a small town or because it's voted the Happiest Place in America and we all know happy people just smile more, or if everybody is just stoned, or what.  But if you step out your door and walk down the street, someone is going to say hi to you and be happy to see you.

2.  I hardly have to drive anywhere (which rules), but when I do, traffic is not part of my life.  It is a revelation.  It has heaped untold years back onto my life.  My stress level has plummeted.  In the past year, I have encountered exactly TWO traffic jams.  Two, as in 1 . . . 2.  And both times I was able to get off the freeway and take an alternate route and it was no big whoop.  Quality of life doesn't even begin to describe the extra time and calm that Derek and I now enjoy.   His commute is now five minutes and I don't think I have to tell you what that kind of extra quality time means to our kids.

If I am late getting somewhere now, it's because I ran into someone I know and ended up chatting with them (small town -- statistically inevitable) -- NOT because I was stuck in traffic.

3.  The ubiquitous front lawn is not a thing here.  Not like I have anything against big stretches of grass (aside from their water-hogging nature) -- it's the noise and air pollution from all the gardeners necessary to maintain all those lawns.  I love to walk, but I couldn't walk a single block in L.A. without having to listen to the loud obnoxious whine of gardening machinery and smell the noxious fumes from same.  I hadn't realized how annoying it was until it was markedly absent from my life.  Walking around the neighborhood is a pleasure, and it's fun to see what people do with their front yards instead of have a stretch of lawn.  Some have fountains, drought-tolerant plants, sculptures.  A lot of them grow food instead, which I think is really cool.  And the walk is a quiet, reflective experience, which brings me to my next thing to love . . .

4.  No noise pollution.  There are no helicopters hovering EVER and no airplane noise.  You hear sirens on occasion, but never in the middle of the night.  What you hear at any given moment is birds singing and at night, crickets chirping.  I love the quiet.  Really the noisiest thing I have heard since living here is a drunk college boy stumbling out of his house and shouting "Hey girl!  WANT TO COME SMOKE A BOWL WITH US???"  Noisy, but again with the friendliness.

5.  San Luis Obispo is a very OLD town.
The town was founded in 1772, and many of the oldest homes and buildings are still standing and lovingly cared for.  Walking around the neighborhood never gets old (no pun intended) -- I constantly gawk at all the cute old victorians and craftsmans and adobes with all their character and wonder about their history.  I guess it's the same reason I love going to Europe so much -- everything is so dang old and cool to look at.  It's like living in a mini-Europe in a lot of ways.  The house we are renting was built in 1908, and I never tire of showing guests around who marvel at all the nooks and charm and moldings.

6.  The wine, OMG.  The wine.

You know how they say you can throw a stick up in the air in New York and it will land on a taxi or an ambulance?  Well in SLO you can throw a stick up in the air and it will land on a winery or a vineyard.  There is a scene in Cougar Town (love that show) where the characters are standing around drinking wine and contemplating a trip to wine country, and Jules looks at her glass and says, "We're gonna see where you were born!"  Well, I live where that wine is born and it rules.  Most of the great wines I have loved over the years came from here.  There is a microclimate here that is perfect for grape-growing, and so wine is just part of the culture.  There are great wines stocked in even the crappiest, cheapest grocery store.  Not like I needed a lot of selling points to move here, but I gotta be honest, the wine was one of them.

7.  The unbelievable natural beauty.

It is so easy to become spoiled by it.  I mean this is my treadmill:

A few blocks from the house and I have the best workout imaginable.  Which enables me to drink more of that delicious wine.

8.  Speaking of natural beauty, going to the beach is no big deal.  Ten minutes in the car on a beautiful scenic road and you're here:

Last weekend I actually rollerbladed there.  But when I do drive, no traffic, no parking hassles, just beautiful, clean beach full of seals and sea otters and other interesting wildlife and --you guessed it -- more wine tasting.

Kids tired and not feeling it today?  No biggie -- pack the towels back up and go back home.  We can always come back tomorrow.

9.  People love dogs in SLO.  Dogs are everywhere.

People walk their dogs and hike with them a lot, and people love my dogs too.  I have held Speck in my arms while shopping in a couple of stores downtown and been promptly informed "It's okay to put him down, we are a dog-friendly store" and then they offered him treats.  A lot of restaurants allow dogs on the patio, and I personally know all of the dogs (and their owners) on my street.

You would think barking would be more of a problem, but strangely it's not.  There was one A-hole who lived up the street whose dog was in the front yard barking all day, but she moved away.

10.  There are roughly a million fun, kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) things to do that are free and easy to get to.  Suddenly being a stay-at-home mom is less of a grind and more of a daily pleasure.

There are so many more things I love (no smog, great schools, no smoking in public places, no fast food drive-thrus). . . I mean the list could go on and on and I discover new things every day that make me love it more.  But then this post would never end.

I have found my happy place.  And I hope if you haven't already, that YOU dear reader find YOUR happy place soon!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Christmas Craftage

So, our first Christmas in San Luis Obispo.  I was SO looking forward to it -- all of it.  I was going to experience the crap out of this Christmas in our new beloved small town.  I was going to slow down, decorate the house, have friends over to decorate the tree, have family over, throw my customary ornament-making party, the list went on and on.  And then, BAM!  McLean and I both came down with the NIGHTMARE FLU FROM HELL six days before Christmas Day.  The works -- aching, chills, fever (and accompanying freaky dreams), coughing hard enough to barf up a lung, and just generally feeling like you want to die.  I didn't manage to do a lot of the things I wanted to do, and I wasn't as perky for the actual festivities as I would have liked, but I was hell-bent on getting this one craft completed.  So around Day 3 of being sick, I pumped my ass full of Zip Fizz (have you tried this miracle potion???) and went downtown to finish up shopping and hit Beverly's Craft Store.

Let me back up and explain something important first.  When Derek's Grammy passed at the ripe old age of 107, she left behind a lot of costume jewelry.  I was able to acquire a huge shopping bag full of brooches, clip-on earrings, cameos, endless miscellany, and tons of pearls.  More stuff than I could ever wear, and besides, I don't wear clip-ons, hello.  I wanted to do something special with the stuff, but had no clue.  So it sat in storage for a year.  And then as Christmas drew closer, it dawned on me:  Make a wreath.  I have made a couple of wreaths before and they are really fun.  And this would be really different.  So I searched for something like it on Pinterest and, lo and behold, it is already a thing!

So when my beloved mother-in-law arrived, I explained to her what I had in mind and showed her pictures and hoped she wouldn't think I was cray-cray.  And she was into it!  So we sat at the dining room table, Christmas music playing, me with a nice hot toddy (or two).  And we prepped, painted, glued and stuck about 100 pieces each onto two separate wreaths.  I divided them thusly:  Bright colors and flashy rhinestone pieces on my miso green background; gold and pearls and cameos on Sue's baby pink background.  I love how they turned out, and it was kind of my Christmas nirvana.

Here is the one I made:

And here is the one Sue made:

I love them both so much, I decided to keep them up.  Sue's is in the dressing room above my vanity.  And mine is in the study, above the pictures of Sue and Grammy, which I thought rather fitting:

So in spite of a badly-timed bout with the flu, Christmas turned out great, and I have a wonderful memory and memoriam of two of my favorite women.  And a constant reminder that there is always room for a little glamour, even when you feel like caca!

Love and blessings to you in this Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Miss / Won't Miss

Here are some things I will not miss about living here:

1) Helicopters buzzing my house at 3 a.m.;

2) Wailing sirens at all hours of the day;

3) The incessant, high-pitched barking of the asshole dog across the street;

4) Shopping carts parked in the middle of the sidewalk.  In a residential neighborhood.  Far from any grocery store.

Here is something I will miss terribly about living here:

Our gardener, Venancio.  We had to hire one a couple years ago since the time it was taking Derek to handle it was just becoming overbearing, and given how much time he has to spend away from home, his time at home was just too precious.  And so I was lucky enough to find Venancio.

His skills in the yard are nothing to sneeze at, but it's just his presence that I love the most.  He has the kindest, gentlest, calmest aura about him.  He always has a smile, and though there is a language barrier (my Spanish sucks, and his English is good but not great), he likes to talk a little bit and find something to relate to or sympathize with, some common ground between us.  He is a good listener.  He looks you in the eye when he talks to you.

My kids worship him and watch his every move while he works, and this amuses him.  I will miss how McLean runs up to him and hugs him like a long lost friend and yells "Hi VENAN-CITO!" every time he sees him every two weeks.  And I will miss the kind look in Venancio's eyes as he hugs him back.  He is just so special.  And I will miss him.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Valley Girl No More

After years of sad, child-bearing-and-raising-inflicted neglect of my Valley Girl blog, and in light of recent events, it has been decided by moi to do a little facelift and to change the course of My Precious Ramblings to reflect the current situation:  We are moving out of the Valley!  So I can't really call myself Valley Girl anymore now, can I?

Shortly after Christmas (yes, THIS Christmas), we will have packed up EIGHT SOLID YEARS of couple and kid crap accumulated since we bought our house, and of course our hounds and their slobbery Chuck-It balls, and moved it to our new digs in beautiful, friendly, little (by comparison) San Luis Obispo.  To say I am excited would be a huge understatement.

To say I am profoundly upset to be leaving my family and best friends in the world and moving to a town where I know not a soul would be an even bigger understatement.  It's been tough to grapple with that reality and many, many hysterical tears have been shed, mostly by me.

But I've got balls.  And a fancy phone that has face time.  And I'll only be three hours away.  So basically, I can do this.  And hopefully my loved ones will come visit me enough to see how awesome it is there, and I can continually and persistently wear them down until they decide to move to SLO, too.

So in the coming weeks, I will keep you posted on the transition process, the issues, things I will miss, things I will so NOT miss, and the like, and discover my new town and all it has to offer.  And hope you can virtually come along for the ride.  Because life is good and it should be exciting, even when it's scary, no?

I'm scared, but excited.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bad Girl Mom

I attended a toddler-friendly event recently that was centered around crafts and attended by other stay-at-home moms. This particular friend that hosted the event is a lovely woman with a husband, small child, huge dog AND an immaculate house, which kind of already makes me feel like a fish out of water. The couch – so fresh and spotless! The bathroom – so shiny and free of errant pee! The mirrors – so gleaming and fingerprintless! I found myself distracted by the sheer wonderment of it. How is this possible? Two penis people and a dog in the house, and you could eat off the kitchen floor? No. It just doesn’t compute.

But I felt even more alien in this company when the conversation turned to grown-up things. It was brought to my attention that the hostess of the event sells Mary Kay now, a fact which I was completely unaware since, as she put it, “You don’t do parties like that.” It’s true, I don’t. Tupperware, Pampered Chef, crystal stuff, jewelry, whatever – I hate that shit like I hate chain e-mails and will not participate. “Really?” exclaimed one of the moms incredulously. “I love those parties! How can you not like those?” I felt others stop and look at me. “Uh…. I just don’t. I love parties, but I have zero interest in talking about kitchenware and all that stuff and would rather spend that time at a girls night out or book club meeting or going dancing or something instead.” Oh, she reads books too, and rattled off some titles I hadn’t heard of. Until she mentioned The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – my very favorite book of like, the last ten years. “Hated it!” she proclaimed. “Thought it was supposed to be so great and instead it was just so graphic and weird and dark.”

But I like graphic and weird and… wait a minute. And then it dawned on me: I had stumbled into a Nice Moms Party. I didn’t have anything in common with these moms other than motherhood. I am a Bad Girl Mom.

What is a Bad Girl Mom? I know there are a lot of us out there, but somehow we don’t really congregate in places like the playground, Mommy & Me, or Baby Gap. We are not sanitized, and not celebrated in mainstream media. We love our children more than life itself, feed them good food, take care of them with zealous and tireless attention, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of the squeaky-clean thing. And don’t really want to.

It’s easier to explain what a Bad Girl Mom is by illustration and you can draw your own conclusion if you are a Bad Girl Mom or not. And if you are, Dear Little One, please know that you are not alone.

Bad Girl Moms don’t watch their language or the language in music like a hawk. My child learned to say the word “douche” before “please” or “thank you” and knows all the words to plenty of non-Radio-Edit songs by the likes of Black-Eyed Peas and Sir Mix-A-Lot. I just think there are a lot more important things to be upset or concerned about. McLean spouting out “I got that visual spit, next level visual shit” is just not high on the list.

My child also learned to say “I ripped one!” and laugh hysterically rather than “Excuse me, I tooted.”

Bad Girl Moms don’t apologize for being randy. At least one of my children was conceived on the back patio. I refuse, REFUSE to not see myself as sexy anymore just because I have scrambled egg shrapnel in my hair and don’t really get to wear my cute shoes anymore. They are still in my closet and their very presence affirms that I was once a desired creature and will be again someday.

A Bad Girl Mom will not buy a nursing bra unless it is pretty and makes the rack look good.

And I cannot, cannot, CANNOT get behind Crocs. I don’t care how practical they are – they are butt-ugly on grown-ups and children.

Bad Girl Moms have particular tastes in entertainment that do not extend to the likes of the Twilight saga or Real Housewives of Whatever Some Such Bullshit “reality” type shows. If I have the time to sit in front of the TV and lack sufficient energy to go out and have girl time, I’m going to watch True Blood, not Glee.

My person and hair have been polluted all at once with drool, spit-up, poop, baby food and breast milk so much that I felt like the star of some freaky Japanese fetish video, and still I opted to lie down for a nap rather than have a shower. That is a Bad Girl Mom move right there.

Speaking of housekeeping and nudity, Bad Girl Moms are not particularly concerned and have better things to do. During the week of potty training, my son teabagged every conceivable surface of the living room, dining room, and some parts of the office. He even did headstands on the couch for guests, allowing them to see directly into his colon. I encouraged this behavior, and even mutually applauded it with his father. Potty training is hard enough without getting all uppity about it.

So, in conclusion, I would just like to say, motherhood is a very intense journey, and sometimes mind-blowingly difficult. Getting uptight over the little things just doesn’t feel right to me, so I let them go and laugh about it. And hope you do, too. Bad Girl Moms, unite!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Aren't They Adorable?

Post-partum Woes

I’m thinking of writing a children’s book. I would call it “The Saggy Baggy Ass.”

What, you don’t think that will sell?

Some of the 60 pounds are coming off, which is super. But what of the stretched out skin left behind? I would tell the tale of the skin on my neck and belly, and its wiggles and waggles, how much the baby loves to grab the skin and yank with all his five-month-old might (which feels especially invigorating if his nails haven’t been cut in awhile). But loose skin on my butt? Really? Can’t I just keep the nice round badonkadonk I was cultivating while pregnant and lose the still-pregnant-looking belly instead? It’s not fair.

But that’s not what drove me to sit and rant today. What is on my mind, Dear Reader? Post-partum hair shedding. People, I have lost so damn much hair in the last two months, it’s a wonder I am not as bald as Mr. Clean. Which got me to thinking of a whole list of things you could do with the hair I have lost. Why waste it? I will commence with said list now:

1. You could clean up the oil spill in the Gulf. And still have hair leftover to clog about a dozen shower drains.

2. You could make a whole other Valley Girl with a bangin’ hairdo. Just add some Forever21 sweatpants, Reeboks, and a nursing bra -- Done!

3. You could glue a big stick on the hair and have an eco-friendly mop. Your floors never looked so shiny!

4. You could glue the hair all over your body – voila! Blond gorilla suit for next Halloween!

5. You could prop up the hair on a chair, put sunglasses on it, and set it by the front door like Cousin It to frighten off door-to-door salespeople or those that might want to share their religious material with you.

6. If you’re looking for a good excuse for being late to work, or just really want some attention, slam the hair into the trunk door of your car and get pulled over. And you’ll have a great story to tell your friends!

7. Bake the hair into a pie and give it to someone you really hate. Like Meg did on Family Guy.

You see, the possibilities are endless! I could come up with a dozen more, but I have to go haul the latest load of hair to the trash before the kids wake up.

(Thank you, Kimo, for the nudge. This one’s for you!)