Archive for August, 2008

It’s amazing what a little paint and a few small touches can do. We had grown tired of the aqua blue that we had chosen when we first moved in, and since I am constantly looking for things to add to my to-do list, we (by “we”, I guess I mean “I”), decided that we should give the bedroom a little update.  I love the way the gray turned out – Shane and I were a little nervous as we were painting, as the paint looked much more lavender than gray when it was wet, but it dried into the perfect balance of cool and warm.  For a pop of color, I bought new pillowcases and did the small painting that hangs over the headboard.  The painting was done over a page that I tore out of an old French paperback, which makes a nice background for the simple graphic.  The lamp was an old Ikea purchase that I was no longer in love with, but I wrapped the base in gray yarn to give it a totally new texture and color. We’re still working on a couple of small finishing touches – a new lamp for Shane’s side table, and maybe a new duvet cover for the bed, but it’s coming along.  And now it’s on to the next the home project…

I’ve been on kind of a knitting binge lately and finally finished up this scarf.  This was my first attempt at a “lacy” pattern, and once I got into the groove of it, it was surprisingly simple.  Check out the pattern here (I used size 10.5 needles and a regular worsted yarn instead).

Seriously, how cute are these?  Just finished these little booties for a certain little someone and am starting pair #2 for another special little girl.  Knitted with a super-soft cotton/cashmere/angora blend, weight 50g, pattern found here.

Shane and I spent the weekend camping with friends over in Dosewallips State Park on the Olympic Peninsula.  It was a perfect weekend to enjoy the outdoors (minus the rain that set in around 11 this morning – thank goodness we packed up camp early).  Sipping Coronas from our lawn chairs in the sun, toasting marshmallows around a blazing fire, waking up to the sound of breeze in the trees…  This is the stuff camping is made of.

Despite the temptation to sit around the site and eat/drink/chat/doze/be lazy, we did decide to burn off some of those s’mores by taking a short hike on one of the trails in Olympic National Park.  Every time I get out into the woods, I am reminded of how much I love the color GREEN…  I was especially taken with the moss that crawled and dripped over the rocks and trees.

And Shane is reminded of how much he loves to skip rocks (seriously, this guy could go at it for hours).

This was a great little getaway.  But I’ve discovered that I’m definitely just a weekend camper – I always enjoy myself, but by Sunday afternoon, I’m ready for a shower, a hot cup of tea, and an evening on the couch.  Watching the rain fall from the comfort of our living room feels pretty good right now.

Yesterday was the baby shower for our dear friends, N and J.  Shane gave me a suspicious look when I told him that it was a co-ed baby shower and that all the other husbands would be going, since he was under the impression that any party that ends in the word “shower” typically is intended for women.  But I assured him that he wouldn’t be asked to do anything silly at the shower, and told him that our stellar chef-friends J and L would be preparing some of the food, and so he gladly agreed to come.  Now don’t get me wrong – we had a fantastic time – but my promise of “no silliness” hardly held true.  Shane did manage to skip out on the “guess that mystery baby food” game (I played, and decided that I will never subject my infant to horrors of strained peas), but no one was going to let him escape the “chug apple juice from a low flow bottle as fast as you can” game.  Much, much trickier than it would seem…  And let me tell you, there is no funnier sight than a group of blind-folded men try to fumble their way through putting a diaper on a stuffed animal.  I was laughing to the point of tears as I watched Shane focus with extreme determination on getting that diaper on poor, contorted little Tigger.  I must admit, my husband had an unfair disadvantage in the race, since he was given the only stuffed animal with a tail, but he did his best and I trust that he will be a stellar diaper-changer when duty actually calls.

We have now become total believers in the Mom/Dad baby shower.  Not only does the presence of men make for some good laughs, but it also reinforces the fact that the woman isn’t the only one having the baby.  The father should be expected to be every bit as involved as the mother in the new child’s life.  One of the best gifts N and J received was a “Diaper Dude” – a diaper bag disguised as an ultra-cool canvas messenger bag.  For although my husband will be expected to change diapers, tote around bottles, and make sure the pacifier is handy, I won’t ask him to shoulder a bag with Winnie the Pooh and daisies all over it.

Shane and I took a quick trip to California last week to catch up with some old friends.  It’s good to be back home in Seattle (yes, I am officially referring to Seattle as “home”), but dang, after spending just a couple of days with my best friend, I’ve realized how much I miss her.  Amanda and I have been friends since high school, when we sat next to each other in Spanish class and were forced to sing Enrique Iglesias songs together (our teacher somehow thought that singing bad pop Spanish songs was vital to a complete understanding the language).  Our friendship apparently was sealed in that classroom, as we have remained close ever since.  We have almost nothing in common (Amanda loves Kelly Clarkson and goes to see the “American Idol on Tour” concert every year; I prefer Radiohead or maybe a little Death Cab for Cutie when I’m feeling poppy), but we never fail to have an absolutely fabulous time together.  Case in point: we spent over two hours in a shoe store on Thursday, strutting down the aisles, giggling, and giving each other the god-honest truth about the shoes we liked (thank you, Amanda, for saving me from those yellow loafers).  We stayed up late together every night, chatting, catching up, reminiscing about our high-school antics, just enjoying the comfort of being in an old friend’s presence.  We ate Mexican food together (oooooohhhhhh, I adore you, burrito supreme with cheese and green sauce and sour cream), and we loafed around her house afterward while our gut-bombs digested.  We stood in line at the post office together and somehow had a good time doing it.  We talked about work and marriage and family and shoes (yes, we do love our shoes).  It is such a blessing to have a friend that just “gets me” the way she does.  I’ve been discouraged that I haven’t found such a friend in Seattle yet, but I should remind myself that it took years for Amanda and I to come to know each other as well as we do.  Which means it might be years before I can enjoy standing in the post office line with someone up here.  Patience, I guess.

I’m not usually a big fan of short stories, since I really like to become attached to the characters in the books I read, but I really ended up getting into this book of stories by Lorrie Moore.  I was looking for a light, fun read, since I’d just finished wading through all the relatively boring material for my last architectural test, and this fit the bill.  It was not particularly challenging or complex, but each of the stories was clever and well-written, with characters that I really started to “get to know” in the space of just 10 or 20 pages.  Moore’s wit and sarcasm showed through in passages like this (from “You’re Ugly, Too”):

“She had to learn not to be afraid of a man, the way, in your childhood, you learned not to be afraid of an earthworm or a bug.  Often, when she spoke to men at parties, she rushed things in her mind. As the man politely blathered on, she would fall in love, marry, then find herself in a bitter custody battle with him for the kids and hoping for reconciliation, so that despite all his betrayals she might no longer despise him, and in the few minute remaining, learn, perhaps, what his last name was and what he did for a living, though probably there was already too much history between them.”

Her characters are human and screwed up (my favorite kind of characters).  Don’t expect literary genius, but expect a thoroughly enjoyable collection of stories.

I’ve fallen a little behind on my “weekly” sketches, but I’ve managed to squeeze out a couple of doodles lately.  Really liking drawing with ink, after so many years of drawing only in pencil.

woman accidentally resembling cleopatra… (07.23.08):

windy day (08.04.2008):

Our front yard has been getting progressively shabbier these past few months, as our grass was browning blade by blade.  Poor soil and a lack of water had resulted in this patchy, dry mess:

We decided this week that it was time to take action and get rid of our dying grass altogether.  I never realized what a maintenance headache grass can be, and we much prefer the look of plants anyhow, so we went to work yesterday afternoon pulling up all the grass in our front yard.  Shane was resistant to taking this project on this weekend, since we hadn’t done much planning, researching, or budgeting, and things certainly got off to a bumpy start yesterday morning (me dramatically crying “Why don’t you ever want to do anything around the house?!”, Shane accusing me of being impulsive and illogical…), but we eventually re-opened the lines of rational communication and really started to get things done.  Shane did the hardest part, in actually ripping the clumps of grass out.  I assisted by shaking the dirt from them and hauling them around to our yard waste bin out back.  Within a couple of hours, we had our very own little grass-free dirt patch.  We got up this morning and headed straight to Home Depot and our new favorite local nursery to pick up compost, mulch, and plants.  The installation of the plants took some time, as we wanted to dig big enough holes to surround each plant with a decent amount of compost.  We also ran into quite a few rocks and chunks of concrete – with soil quality like this, it’s not surprising that our grass wasn’t doing well.  Anyhow, nine big holes, six bags of compost, and two bags of mulch later, we were the proud owners of this nice little yard:

We’re pretty pleased with the results.  It was tempting to overplant, as things look a little sparse right now, but many of our plants have doubled or even tripled in size in the past year (hence the lavender forests that you see in the foreground and background of the photo), so we will just have to wait patiently for things to fill in a little bit.  I’m excited to watch the plants take shape, bloom, and (hopefully) fluorish.  There’s so much satisfaction to be had in a completed home improvement project – I keep looking out the window, appreciating the progress we made today.  We’ve had several neighbors come by and comment on how nice things look, which feels so good for a novice gardener like myself.

And cheers to my husband for a job well-done!  He was one tired, dirty, sweaty, blistered man by the end of the day.  I’m off now to pour him well-deserved glass of wine…

It’s tempting on Friday evenings to come home from work, put on the sweats, and spend the night vegging out on the couch.  Embarassingly, it isn’t that uncommon for me to crash out by 9 on a Friday (yes, I am self-admittedly lame).  But tonight the sunshine drew us outside and we found ourselves at the lawn bowling green just up the street from our house.  Friday night is free “open bowl”, and anyone is welcome to come use the clubhouse balls and grab a lane on the green.  Shane and I did this once last summer and had a fantastic time – I don’t know why it took us so long to get back.  But it must have been pretty apparent that we weren’t regulars, because a very friendly woman approached us as we started to set up our lane and asked if we’d like a lesson.  She gave us a refresher course on the basics and we were left to begin our lawn bowling dual.  Such a great game (similar to bocce ball, but played on a smooth green) in such a great setting (the course is on Beacon Hill and has an amazing view of the city).  The best part?  I think I might have actually found a game in which I can hold my own against Shane.  Finally!  We had a pretty intense head-to-head match going.  Thank goodness our friends J and J showed up to relieve some of the tension.  I’m a competetive player and a terribly sore loser, especially when it comes to losing to Shane (I have been known to throw pieces of sporting equipment or even video game controllers when he really starts to get a lead on me), so it’s always a good idea to have someone else in the mix to mediate the competition.  We switched to pairs mode, which was even more fun, as there were more balls in play and more chances to knock each other out of the way.  Fun stuff, seriously.  This green is such a great little neighborhood jem.  Check it out.