Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sew what

I just finished watching the season finale of Project Runway and was happy to see (spoiler!!) the eclectic dad win the grand prize, as he seemed genuine and stayed true to himself and his style.  I watched all season long, every week beyond impressed that the designers can whip together an original (often crazy themed) design in ONE DAY and have it look better than anything I could make in a year.  And, all that with cameras in their face while sleep deprived and dealing with drama- seeking fellow designers/competitors and the pressure of the competition with so much at stake while away from their home life (aka support system).  I'm pretty positive the producers would find me in a tear filled fetal position in the corner of the sewing room crying for my mommy on the very first day.  

I'm working on a relatively minor sewing project - new curtains for my bedroom closets.  In an effort to make my bedroom more comfy and warm feeling (Spring nesting), I finally took off the very outdated gold mirror doors (courtesy of the previous owners) and am replacing them with simple curtain rods and four curtain panels with grommets for easy opening and closing.  Not too complicated, right?  Only, these store bought panels are about four feet too long and need hemming.  Okay, not too hard.  It's a measure it, fold here, pin there, iron flat, and a simple sew kind of project.  So, a week or two after I buy the panels, I do exactly that.  I hang, measure, fold, pin pin pin, iron, and then sit down at my sewing machine full of confidence and ready to go.  Only, now that I'm at the "sew" step, I realize that I neglected the part about buying the matching thread.  The panel is a deep purple wine color and I have nothing remotely like that.  Darnit!!!!  What didn't I think of this before??!!?  $!@#&*!  Grrrrrr.

I could easily just use the black or brown thread.  Humm, would anyone even notice?  Yes.  I would most definitely notice every time I walk into my bedroom when my eyes dart straight to the hems with the wrong color thread and I would regret my lazy choice and I don't want that because it would totally defeat the purpose of calm and cozy.  Not good.

Three days later I drive the to the fabric store to get the darn matching thread.  I easily find the right color, then get lured over to the seasonal section of summer items, with every isle full of 40% off signs.  An hour later after almost buying a wind chime, garden owl, picnic set, aloha decorations, and wind twirly things that I don't need, I pry myself away and check out with only my matching thread in hand.  A satisfying victory of sheer will-power indeed.

A day later, I sew the hem on the first panel.  Yay!!!  I hang it up and admire my excellent sewmanship.  The next day I finish the other three with immense pride.  Hooray!!  Finished at last!  And they look darn good - waaaaaay better than the gold mirrors for sure.  I can hear Heid's words now, "Daria. Good job.  You've made it through."  And, as a bonus, I have plenty of leftover fabric to make throw pillows...ha ha ha...someday. Thank goodness I can take all the time I want.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Styrofoam trees

My Rodgers and Hammerstein movie appreciation series only has one movie left, one of my top five favorite movies of all time, The Sound of Music. This past Saturday night, however, we watched the second to last movie, the made for television movie version of Cinderella from 1965.

Starring a much beloved and long time actor from General Hospital (one of my, uh um, guilty pleasures), Stuart Damon (isn't he handsome above?), Ginger Rogers, and the breakthrough performance of the totally adorable Leslie Ann Warren, it has to be great, right?
The consensus in the room was that the movie was not good. At all. Honestly, laughable. The actors were the best part, wonderful and sweet, but the styrofoam cone trees, odd costumes, high school theater sets, and a rather wimpy and whiny Cinderella left us feeling very critical...and kind of silly. Are we totally spoiled by modern cinema and strong female characters? Are we too cynical? Standards to high? Are we, gasp!, total movie snobs???

I looked up the movie on imdb.com, and the reviews are glowing - "Absolutely enchanting", "Magical", "A true classic", "Mesmerizing", and so on and so on. Wow. I am really shocked. Did they watch the same movie as us?

But, if I take a look a little deeper, most reviewers say they loved the watching the movie as a child. Humm, interesting. Do these glowing reviews come from sentimentality? Nostalgia? Is their judgment clouded by fond childhood memories? After all, it's been known to happen.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about favorite childhood food. So inspired, in fact, that I dragged my kids to the grocery store to buy a few of these food items. I head to the Hostess section to buy some partially-hydrogenated memories in the form of cupcakes, Twinkies, and an apple pie. My man mentioned his favorite, frozen french bread pizza, so I pick one up for him while I am buying some creamed chip beef for myself. Of course, as children, me and my man loved homemade food made by grownups, but us latchkey kids made ourselves a lot of frozen dinners and when we found ones that we liked, we ate a lot of them. Can you say $.25 Swanson pot pies anyone? The worst thing at the time was choosing between chicken or turkey and waiting the forty-five minutes they took to heat in the...gasp...oven!

My kids got in on the sampling of goodies when we got home, as they are more than happy to help since they never tasted them before. I slice each one of the sweets into bite-sized pieces and it is really fun to share. Of course, they think they are all yummy. I think they are, uh, just okay. Certainly not OMG! soooooo delicious!!!, but not yucky poo poo. Just okay. The creamed chip beef? Salty! My man's review of his pizza? Mediocre at best.

Ya, so maybe I am pretty cynical. Or, maybe, just maybe I appreciate the finer things now as opposed to when I was a kid. I actually teared up over eating a slice of real New York pizza in Brooklyn, and melted over every single bite of the most perfect piece of thin crust Margherita pizza in Cortona, Italy. And, I will toot my own horn, but I make a pretty darn good homemade pizza myself. So, of course a frozen "pizza" with chemicals and no flavor is not going to cut it anymore!

Same with the classic Cinderella story. I can see how in 1965 a made-for-tv movie was a new concept, expectations were low. A theater play on my tv!? How glorious! Now the standards are much much higher. The lovely The Slipper and the Rose filmed in beautiful England or Ever After with a strong and smart Cinderella are two updated versions that totally trump the 1965 version. Even the magical Enchanted, which was not only fun to watch (love the Central Park musical scene and that damn song gets in my head), but Giselle realizes that falling in love is about compatibility and choice and not just some automatic feeling because he's all cute and charming and is all into you and promises you the world and stuff. Aw...sigh.

I guess part of the fun watching these older movies is seeing how far we've come and appreciating that and especially being able to laugh about it among wonderful friends. After all, Cinderella only wishes she had friends like this. She's stuck with only an evil step-mother, two mean and jealous step-sisters, a few mice, and a prince that probably won't encourage her to follow her dreams or appreciate her beautiful female soul. Although a big castle with endless staff who make your bed and draw your bath and cook for you and take care of all your needs so you don't have to lift a finger wouldn't be such a bad thing...ummm, well, once in a while anyway...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Super R2 coming soon to a theater near you

Having his R2D2, Super Hero! animated movie idea rejected by George for the last and final time, R2 takes matters into his own gripping tool. "Surely this well respected mouse studio will understand and appreciate my creative vision. Once George gets word that my movie gets the green light and a mega budget, he'll be begging...no groveling...for me to come back. Too bad, so sad, Georgie Boy!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Happy dance

The Sunday morning right before my husband leaves for a week long work trip out of town, I am looking for my missing indoor cat outside (long story) and notice water pouring out of our water heater. I take a wild and crazy guess that this is a very bad thing, and yep, $500 later and a lost morning, my handy hubby installs our new water heater. Only, despite all of his manly greatness, he cannot get the pilot lit. I schedule an appointment online with the gas company, and get this, no appointment until Friday, with the customer friendly (ha ha ha) time range of 7am to noon. Fine, whatever, do I have a choice? Luckily we have another water heater that supplies the kitchen, laundry, and guest bathroom, so at least we are not totally up a cold creek.

Slowly fade to Friday morning. Finally. I get up, get dressed, make coffee, and what? What is that?! Could that be the sound of the gas company truck in front of my house at 7:19? Hooray!! Happy dance!! I don't have to spend my entire morning held captive for an appointment that will take five seconds!!

I take it as a gift from the universe. There is no way I can just putz
around and clean, or play on the internet, or be a boring recluse. It means I should get my butt outside and do something something artsy and cultured and sophisticated. Or totally indulgent? I research my many many options online. I pose the question on my facebook status, and a friend mentions a foot massage...ooh aaah. All of those ideas sound nice.

In a flash, it's two hours later.


I'm frozen. I can't peel myself away from staring at the tv. Those nice ideas don't sound right anymore. I want to cry. What is wrong with me? What am I not taking advantage of this glorious gift? Get up! Get out, girl! Go be fabulous somewhere great!

I turn off the tv and the computer. I march my butt to my bedroom and tell myself "just get on your favorite new sandals, fix your hair, lip gloss, and get moving! Just drive. Just do it!!!!!"

And, that's exactly what I do.

On a total whim, I drive to a thrift store a few cities away that I always wanted to explore. Turns out, to my happy surprise, it's on this neat funky street with vintage/antique shops, mom and pop stores that have been there forever, a prop/costume store, and many other little gems that cater to the nearby entertainment studios. My first stop is the thrift store and it doesn't thrill me at all. Oh well. Unfazed, I stroll down the neat street, window shopping, browsing, admiring the warm weather, daydreaming...

And, of course this leisurely stroll works up a major appetite and at the end of the block I see this legendary bakery/casual cafe that I've read about so many times.
Every table outside is full and people are eating on benches. Inside, every table is full, the place is crowded, bustling with cool pretty studio industry people everywhere - obviously a very popular lunchtime destination. Ya, I'm like so hip and happening like that.

I take my order 'to go', never expecting to get a table in any decent time. I figure I'll go back to my car and find a nearby park or something. As I'm walking away outside, I spy in disbelief an empty small bistro sized table with one chair. It can't be. No fricken way. I look around and no one is waiting. It's like there was a "Reserved for Daria" sign on the table. I want to do my I'm So Happy to See the Gas Guy at 7:19!!! dance, but I decide it's best to just sit down and quietly smile.

My roasted veggie with hummus sandwich is totally yummy. The weather is almost as good. I start thinking about the long proven fact that I'm waaaaaay too hard on myself and usually the best things happen when I least expect it. I want things to be perfect, and then I get stuck because it's just too much to bear. It's like the ten loads of laundry screaming at you or an overflowing sink full of dirty dishes. So what if I'm not at the world famous Getty? Who cares if I'm not strolling through a museum exhibit or the cultural event of the decade? Those things are lovely and all, but so is my unplanned, spontaneous, simple, low key and cool, very me kind of day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Berry beautiful

There is just something so lovely about buying a little blueberry bush on a whim last summer, planting it in a container in my garden without much thought or attention, and now seeing it covered it blueberries. I can't wait until they are ready to eat!

I just love the Spring so much, and I'm not just saying that because my birthday is this month. I'm saying that because it's all about awakening and new growth and renewal with a bounty of vibrant color and soul reviving fragrances. It's so many little things all put together to make one spectacular season...my favorite one of all.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

She's got legs

On Easter Sunday (see my fancy egg tree?) my man left for a week long work training class in Sacramento six hours away. That's five whole days plus ten hours of flying solo time. I am an only child raised by my single mom and I totally appreciate my alone time because that's what I'm used to, but being reminded about how hard it is to be a single parent is not my favorite thing. It's a lot of work for sure.

I know, I know, five and a half days is nothing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Suck it up Daria. Dance and sing. Watch chick movies at night and wear my ugliest underwear and pajamas with unshaven legs. Personal empowerment. Freeeeedom!

So, a week ago, we get this new mattress. I'd like to say we felt compelled to contribute to the economic recovery, but, unfortunately, my man desperately needs a firmer mattress to help his ailing and aching back. The cost of a new mattress is far less than the profound cost of getting medically retired. Yikes.

We get our mattress from that particular Swedish store with funny names and questionable meatballs. The store that always seems to be out of the one item that you drove thirty minutes to look at and that took you two hours to finally decide on and another hour to navigate through to the end and then you find out they won't have it in stock for an eternity and you want to scream at the top of your lungs WTF is wrong with this humongous place, the biggest store in the city, how can you not have any Skortigs in stock?!

Or is it just me?

Anyway, we buy the very last king sized environmentally friendly and firm latex mattress in the style we want (whoo hooo yippee for us...victory!), only, well, the bed frame legs that we want are out of stock. Ha ha ha...of course. Hey, but great news, in only 3-5 days and another inconvenient trip all the way back to the store, they'll have plenty. Fantastic.

After checking online every day since, finally I see thirty-three in stock - the day after my man left. But, I can't take any chances that they will have a run on bed frame legs, so I quickly make the trek back to the store with my full of energy kids in tow and buy them. Once home, I grab the little yellow screwdriver, turn on Food Network for background noise, drag the what feels like four hundred pound mattress to the floor, flip over the two bed frames - totally confident that it's an easy ten minute job for this fully capable flying solo woman. Only, there are these eight metal corner pieces that need four screws each and they aren't easy to reach and the screwdriver is not doing the job and the $@%#!&! wrench thing that was included sucks and, and...where is my man!?

Once I get a grip, I decide it's time for a mighty manly power tool. I can do it. Oh yes, I can. Even though I had to clear the room of my impressionable young children because I could not be responsible for random outbursts of cursing, I would not be deterred. A ridiculous two hours of non-stop work (I know because listened to Paula Deen, Giada, Rachel, and the Neely's) and I successfully attach eight legs and I'm proud of myself. And exhausted. Totally spent.

I know I'm fully capable of such things and I prove it. After all, I take care of 98% of the daily needs around the house. I survived raising two baby twins! I'm not complaining or blaming anyone, it's just the truth. But, I can't do it all, and the 2% that I choose to not do I leave to my handy dandy manly man. So, when I am forced do the other 2% power tool/dirty/fix-it/muscle stuff and do a damn good job if I say so myself, it just confirms how much I can rock it...and how much I'd rather go shopping for the new linens and accessories instead. Just sayin'...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Say it with a sign

It's getting toward the end of a week long Spring break from school. We are keeping a nice balance of being busy and relaxing - getting outside in the beautiful weather, seeing friends we don't get to see enough, doing crafts, and just hanging out at home. I've even got multi-colored egg dye fingers to prove it. Man, did we need this break from the regular routine to get our footing again.

Inevitably, the Spring break bliss is slowly fading and we are all letting our guard down and throwing out all kinds of emotions other than happy happy joy joy like in the beginning of the week. We went from "you are the bestest brother in the whole wide world" kiss kiss hug hug to "I never want to play with you ever again...ever!!!" tears and tattletales. Umm, can we go back to last Monday please pretty please? This mama who is used to her relative free time is losing her sanity - grrr...

Yesterday morning, a friend from school came over to play for a few hours. I listen to giggles and imagination for about an hour, and it's all good. Then, I suddenly hear my Quinn talking louder and louder saying "why are you ignoring me?" and "why aren't you playing with me?" and "I'm feeling soooo frustrated!" and I look over and yep, the girls are doing their girly thing while he stands next to them being completely ignored. I call him over to me and tell him that maybe it's best to play in his room on his own for a little while.

He comes out about twenty minutes later, confidently marches up to them, shows them this sign and says "I was using my words and you were not understanding me so I drew this picture to show you how I am feeling."
I am stunned. Blown away. Very very proud. Thrilled. He wasn't being heard or understood, felt emotional, and expressed it in an artist way completely on his own. He conveyed his feelings without violence or blame, but simply and effectively through art. He got lots of my praise and positive reinforcement. Love love love it.

Lately my emotions are all over the place, you know, the almost forty unemployed what am I doing with my life wanting to get more in touch with my creative side major transition kind. To make sense of it all, I read and work through books to help understand and deal better and grow. I share and relate with those close to me.
I shut down and push people away. I journal. I meditate. I hike. I drink too wine and eat too much sugar to escape. I cry in the shower. I listen to my favorite music and sing out loud. I shop. I say I'm "okay" when I'm really not and keep it bottled up. I do things to help other people feel better. I'm all over the place.

And my kid, my six year old sweet boy, makes a heartfelt sign that reads "sad" with tears. We all understand him. And he smiles at that and goes right back to playing with everyone without incident or tears until their friend leaves. He felt, he expressed, he was heard, he moved on...end of story.

Of course life gets much more complicated as grown ups, but I can't help but daydream about making my own signs on occasion. Instead of resorting to making a fattening sugary cake when I'm cranky, what if I just wore a sign that says "PMS". Or next time I'm feeling ignored or unappreciated, a sign that says "Invisible". What about a "Lonely" sign for all those days I could use some company and wishing someone would invite me to do something with them. Many times an "Alien" sign would be helpful when I'm feeling completely out of place.

Alright, well, I know that's not quite realistic, but maybe that's where art and being creative comes into the picture - a way to express ourselves, but beyond just simple words. I know when I'm being consistently creative I'm a much better person - a more fulfilled person that doesn't need to make many sad signs at all.