Sunday, April 29, 2007

home ec

So there I was, performing my thrift-shop ritual of rifling through the racks of kids' clothes, when my eye just happened to wander over to the toy shelves and I spotted this:

Holy Fisher-Price vision of Tudoresque suburban bliss, Batman! Needless to say, I abandoned the clothing immediately and all but tackled it in my zeal to claim it before the lone grandmotherly type who was also cruising the store, who probably could not have cared less about it anyway. At 79 cents, there's no buyer's remorse, not even after Iris decides the Fisher-Price sticker on the roof needs redecorating with her markers. Oh well, it was pretty trashed anyway. The rest of the house is in move-in condition – the doorbell even works!

The funny thing is, just a couple weeks ago I found this at another thrift:

Sort of the pastel 80s urban update on the classic suburban single-family dollhouse. The tiger has a bachelorette pad above the pet shop (hmm, is that a little like living above the pizzeria? Best not to think too hard about that), and the beauty salon around back is convenient for getting her stripes touched up. As I recall, this little beauty was 99 cents. Well, you know, real estate in the city is through the roof.

Speaking of roof, I just love that these houses have handles for carrying them and their contents around, and so does Iris. It's hard to say which of us gets more of a kick out of them.

My own life-size house is the object of all my creative/crafting energy right now – I'm still deep in nesting mode – so don't expect (not that you do) any cleverness in the crafting department here. Right now, it's all about the rectangle: placemats, napkins, curtains. Maybe I'll branch out into triangles and make one of those pennant-banner thingies for Iris' playroom. You never know!

Before I go, a picture from today's seed- and flower-planting fest, just because... because it's so damn nice to see and live life outdoors again.

Monday, April 23, 2007

open season

What is your idea of a perfect birthday?

Here's mine:

Not having to go to work :: chocolate croissant and a cappucino for breakfast at Grasso Roberto café :: Parking Authority's birthday present to me=out of order parking meter :: hanging out at the National Aviary with my mom and my girl :

: Iris' present to me=a three-hour nap :: during which I finished making new placemats and napkins :

: J cooking one of my favorite dinners (rustic pork ragout) :: and dark chocolate cupcakes with coffee buttercream :: all to be eaten and enjoyed on the porch:

: Yesterday, the day we scrubbed the porch and brought the furniture up from the basement and blew bubbles and drank wine on the porch swing in the afternoon sun, really marked the beginning of spring.

And not a minute too soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

the stockyards in the moon

Tonight as I was patting Iris' back before sleep, we were talking about the moon.

"Sometimes it looks like it has a face," she said.

"Yes, that's called the man in the moon," I told her, then could not resist adding, "In Japan, they say it's the rabbit in the moon." [true!]

Whereupon Iris asked, "What do they say in Chicago?"

Friday, April 13, 2007

in living color

A lot of people are observing a week of color, and that is a beautiful thing. But as someone who has been getting up prior to the crack of dawn this week to lead architectural historians on coffee-fueled walking tours, I am not feeling quite focused enough for that. I present to you instead: Things That Have Changed Color.

water (+ beet juice, red cabbage leaves, onion skins, and turmeric):


Iris' playroom:

and freezer-paper-stencilled T-shirts:

Two for a brand-new baby born on Easter morning – who could wish for a more perfect birthday? – one for her radiant and exhausted mom, and one for her big sister, so she won't feel left out.

Iris didn't change color, except for her hands a little because she helped.

Friday, April 06, 2007

nesting 1-2-3

My friend Marijke is about to pop with Anya's new little baby brother or sister, but it is I who am nesting like crazy. I've been poring over my cache of decorating/design books, especially this one

which is overflowing with deliciousness on every page.

Just a few of the pictures that inspire me:

I love this setup for vertical storage/display. Of course, it requires a wall unimpeded by a door or a window, and my 100-year-old house has precious few of those.

I've always wanted to make a bed frame out of plumbing fixtures. No, seriously, I have. I love the way this one integrates fabric panels. I'd have colored and/or patterned ones and change them for the seasons. J thinks he may be able to figure out a way to build a bench into the footboard.

Having realized recently that we have just enough room in our kitchen for a narrow island, we made an actual design for one, inspired by this, last night.

The pocket doors between our living room and front hall are long gone. Maybe we could rig up some cool rolling collage of salvaged panels, like this one. Another thing about this picture: surprising no one more than my own self, I find this room's color scheme to be extremely pleasing.

I so need something like this. Where does one acquire an "old industrial trolley"?

And this picture, from another book, may lead to a design for the cabinetry/open shelving we want to build at some point between our living and dining rooms.

On a related topic, you can see some bits of my current decor right now over at ikea hacker. Just be warned – the danger of getting sucked in to Jules's site is extremely high.

Oh, and if you're wondering how the playroom turned out, or even if you're not, I'll post a picture as soon as our beautiful spring sunshine comes back. That's right – I'm holding the playroom hostage for spring.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Ay, the fjords are lovely this time of year, me love

King of the leopards. That’s what Iris called a construction worker yesterday. He was wearing a camo-patterned sweatshirt, and she pointed him out when we were stopped next to a building site and said, “I think he is the king of the leopards. Because he has spots.”

The really funny part is that I can trace this seeming flight of fancy directly back to, of all things, St. Patrick’s Day. You know, the holiday with the shamrocks, the pot o’ gold, and the leopard-chaun? The tricky leopard-chaun who hides a treasure box of candy for you and your preschool cronies to find?

Iris came home from school on March 17 and told us, “The leopard played a trick on us today!” I thought this was just another mysteriously decontextualized slice of retold preschool life until, a week later, I hit my forehead with the heel of my hand and said to J, “But of course! The teachers said a leprechaun played a trick on them! But she doesn’t know what a leprechaun is, so she heard leopard.’”

Mystery solved! Now if only someone could explain why the leopard-chaun filled the treasure box with Swedish fish.

Monday, April 02, 2007

first run

I'm quite embarrassed about my last post. All weekend I contemplated sneaking over here and deleting it. I can't believe I subjected the citizens of the internet – all eight of them who visit here, hi, I love you guys! – to my thought bubbles about my hair.

So, on to a subject that is scarcely less trivial: yesterday, in the one-hour interval between rainstorms, I went for my first run of the season. Truth be told it was more walking than running, but it was a start. I am not naturally thin, nor am I naturally heavy. What I am is naturally self-indulgent when it comes to wine, cheese, chocolate, and all those good caloric things, so when the weather turns warm, I try to get running in order to keep the extra poundage at bay. I think the effect is actually more psychological than physical. I may not actually look better, but I feel better about myself when I run.

So now that the weather has turned, the light is long, and the shoes have been dusted off, I need just one more thing to run through the spring, summer, and fall: some new high-energy tunes on the old shuffle. So tell me: what do you listen to when you run, walk, dance, or whatever you do to get moving?

P.S. Confidential to Christi: Since I can't reply directly to your comment – damn you, Blogger! – I'm thanking you here for it. No, I am not the Angelique Hobbs who was once your neighbor, but I appreciate hearing from someone whose heart is here in Pittsburgh. Let me know if you ever come back to visit!