Thursday, November 30, 2006

Feathering my nest

It is finally starting to turn cold. Not that I object to the 70 degree weather we have been experiencing here in St. Louis; just remarkably balmy for this time of year. What a gift it has been! But I knew winter would eventually arrive. Whenever the nights grow long and there is a chill in the air, I have this overwhelming urge to work on the house, redecorate, move furniture, clean closets, and organize. I feel like I am settling in and feathering my nest.

This year my efforts have focused on our offices. Since John and I both work out of the home, office space is very important to us and to date we haven't gotten it right. Although we have been able to do our jobs, I think we both felt somewhat compromised in our set ups. I felt like I wanted to achieve a more aesthetically pleasing look, something that suited my personality. And John was making due with a crappy old desk that wasn't nearly big enough and didn't begin to meet his needs.

So, major reorganization has begun in the Shaw household. First of all, I knew for sure that I didn't really want the teak furniture anymore. Incredibly, all this furniture used to be jammed into my tiny office. It is lovely, but not my thing and thankfully John wanted it. The photo shows him hard at work at his "new" desk.
I wasn't quite sure what I wanted instead. It was one of those deals where I felt I would know it when I saw it. My ideas, as usual, were all over the board, but included - shabby chic, sort of retro, a little kitschy, but also homey. All the while maintaining a fresh and organized appearance. I wanted a place to hang out in comfort, a refuge of sorts. The kind of spot where I would walk in and sigh with comfort knowing I am home.
This blue table was the first step. I saw it and immediately knew. Of course I didn't realize it would be such a major league pain in the ass to move into the room but that's a story for another day. Geez. And the little green chest of drawers belonged to John's mom, one of her many antiquing projects. I found the star wall hanging at the same shop where I bought the table. And the "bookcase" at the side of my "desk" is actually the hutch from the crappy old desk John was previously using. That was John's idea, to sit it directly on the floor(he's so smart thinking out of the box). It works perfectly and allows me to have all the office stuff that I need (printer, scanner, working files, paper stuff) right at hand. Not shown in this picture is the rest of the desk, a large table that houses my mongo size Epson printer and my light box.

I have still not made decisions on paint. If you look closely at the picture with the star, you will see some of the contenders, all taped to the wall. John's office also needs to be painted and transformed from a child's room into a more elegant executive space. He has chosen a warmed taupe that will be lovely with his eggplant futon couch (not shown, it's where the cats and I hang to watch him work). And I still need to find the perfect cozy chair for my space plus a bookcase. But we are on our way - I will post more photos as we refine our efforts. This is just the beginning.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Zip zip hooray

I just finished reading A girl named Zippy: Growing up small in Mooreland, Indiana. Such a fun book, heartfelt yet hilarious, this memoir ranks right up there as one of the best I've read. The prose is written through the voice of Zippy, a nine year old living in small town USA. Through this witty kid's eyes we come to know her family and many of Mooreland's quirky inhabitants.

I totally related to the book and it summoned up memories of my own childhood, first living in a small town, then moving to a city suburb when I was about Zippy's age. I laughed out loud at her accident-prone behavior, her relationships with animals, her struggle to find her place. And as I laughed, I remembered my own struggles, the way I never really fit in anywhere, how I always felt the odd girl out. And how I also seemed to distinguish myself through crazy accidents.

Like the time I was jumping on the trampoline in gym class. Believe me when I say I was no athlete. I was the kid for whom that "each child shall be allowed to play 2 innings" rule was mandated. I was the kid who, during my 2 innings in right field, could somehow still manage to screw up the game. But jumping on a trampoline, well, even I could do that with some confidence and finesse. So jump I did, higher and higher, imagining this as my specialty, even mastering (well, maybe that's an exaggeration) some "moves" such as when you land in a seated position, then turn around mid-air to land facing the other way.

On the fateful day, I waited my turn with the others,. I had watched several kids before me, the cute popular ones, always endearing themselves to everyone, teachers and students alike. They had mastered this dismount technique which involved a little bounce that catapulted them right off the side of the tramp allowing them to gracefully land on the floor.

My turn finally arrived and I trembled with anticipation scrambling up on the tramp. The first jumps were timid as I found my trampoline legs, but soon enough I was jumping and jumping for all I was worth, doing the moves successfully and even trying moves I had never tried before. A sense of euphoria ruled; I was exhilarated and high on glee.

Looking back, I don't remember making an actual decision to try the showy dismount. But when my turn was over, there I was, attempting this deceivingly simply move, bouncing right into it. Except, I didn't gracefully land feet first on the floor. Somehow, my butt dragged over the edge of the tramp right in the exact place where one of the springs was attached with the hook facing up rather than hook facing down. That hook caught and tore the back of my sweatpants, exposing my new underwear with the orange goldfish and cobalt blue tulips. Momentum continued to propel me forward but the hook held strong so that I was left hanging off the edge of the trampoline, literally by the seat of my pants.

Several people, including the teacher, helped to extricate me. I was fine, not really hurt except for the bruising embarrassment. And another rule was quickly made, "no fancy dismounts from the trampoline."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Daily Om

It's a good one today, about hopes and dreams and whispers from the Universe. Check it out here. Lovely ideas for contemplation.

I always whisper to the Universe, sometimes in the most insignificant ways. For instance, all last week I was thinking about the sale and how I would be furnished with an 8 foot table and 2 panel walls. I am so used to the tent that I can basically hang a display in my sleep. But a table, hmmm, what to do with that!?!?

I pulled out my tablecloths (that being a gross exaggeration as they are really old hunks of mismatched black cloth) and naturally I didn't have one long enough to cover an 8 ft. expanse. I sure didn't want to spend a lot of money or really any money for that matter. As the week went on and I pondered this dilemma, I decided I would just wing it with my black cloth. But naturally I kept rolling it around in my head, obsessing really, about how it would be so much nicer to find a sleek tablecloth, something simple yet classy.

On Friday, that would be Friday the day before the sale, I happened to be in Walmart, a place I rarely shop. Desperation had set in as I was searching for drapery hooks and had already been to a couple stores with no success. I was right in front of a Walmart and didn't feel like driving around any more.
So I entered, with trepidation. Truth be known I am a little scared in Walmart. They just have too much merchandise piled up everywhere and the old claims adjuster in me imagines things flying off the shelves and hitting me in the head. It would be so awful to die a slow death smothered by bags of Pepperidge farm stuffing mix.
Wandering around the store in an aimless stupor, I stumbled across a pile of fabric items, some packaged, some not. Draperies, placemats, tablecloths. And that is when I found it, the perfect tablecloth. Long enough for an 8 foot table. Colors perfectly coordinated with my art. Classy and sleek like a seal; I just loved it.
And the best part; it was on clearance for $5.
I think I am going to get to work on those life dreams now.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I was reviewing the airline carry-on guidelines today. I haven't flown in awhile and knew that liquids were allowed, then they were NOT allowed, then maybe they were, blahblahblah, I just knew it was confusing. Anyway, there was a blurb in today's paper that clarified the situation in time for holiday travel.

Appears that liquid or gel products can be carried onto the plane if they are in 3 ounce or smaller containers stored inside a quart size zip top bag. There are exceptions where the 3 ounce limit does not apply and I quote,
"baby formula and breast milk; prescription and over the counter medications, including KY Jelly....


I kid you not, it was listed in that exact order, ahead of liquids for medical reasons including life support. Perhaps I am unaware of some other critical usage for KY Jelly.

Friday, November 17, 2006

2nd Annual Art Market

Saturday, November 18th
10am-4pm at The Heights.
Centrally located at 8001 Dale Avenue
in Richmond Heights (314) 645-1476.

In addition to my mixed media collage paintings, I will offer a variety of small functional items such as journals and notepads, all embellished with hand-painted papers and original collage paintings. I have also made tiny reproductions of some favorite pieces from 2006 – they make perfect little stocking stuffers or gifts for you – get them before they are gone! Plus a “clearance bin” of adorable(if I do say so myself) hand crafted items that are being "retired."

If you're in the St. Louis area, hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And the Hirsch's win

Today was my baby's birthday. I can't say how many years or he will kick my butt. Here is a picture of him cooking risotto last weekend. He is a good cook, great in fact. Not the only reason I love him, but it doesn't hurt.

We had a nice day. Celebrated in various ways, from snuggling in bed to sharing a fun lunch to dining out tonite. It was a lovely day celebrating John's birth.
And yes, the Hirsch's number of cards sent. Geez, they totally won, 4 Hirsch cards in total, exceeding even the Hoffman (my maiden name) contingent.
Happy Birthday sweetie. May you have many, many more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Color therapy

A friend sent me this link to a very cool site. Rather than try to explain, just click on it and try for yourself. Mine was spooky accurate, saying, in part......"enough is enough - and you feel that you've had enough for a just would like to be able to shout 'stop' and experience a little peace and calm - even if it be only for a little while."

Hmmm, wish I would have thought of that.

Anyway, here's the link:


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Good Reads

During our wannabee vacation last week I finally read 2 books that I enjoyed. I say finally because I have been reading a lot of junk that hasn't been great. Stories that were contrived with shallow characters. Or books that were so cerebral I couldn't grab hold quick enough when all I wanted to do was lose myself in a book. Yes, I have been hankering for a good read. Lucky me I found 2 of them:

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
This is a tale of the circus, told through the voice of a 90+ year old man, a nursing home resident, who ran away to the circus when he was in his 20's. It is set in the depression era, the time of the traveling circus train. I lost myself in this book, the descriptions of circus performers, from the midget to the fat lady to the animals, I was drawn in to the John Irving-like book. The story is happy and sadly poignant at the same time. Sure, it's a little cliched and sure the ending is over the top (maybe that's the big top) but you are so in love with the characters it doesn't matter. A very quick read.

The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of self-absorbed 30 somethings. The book centers around 3 friends who attended Brown together and are now making a life in NY. They consider themselves to be culturally elite and entitled, above it all in their own minds. You perhaps know people like them. You love them, you hate them and (if you're getting older like me) you maybe even remember being a little like them at times(oh, you mean it's not all about me?). This is crisp sophisticated writing, often funny in a tongue in cheek kind of way, and always thought provoking.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Yeesh, I was running and running all day long today. One errand led to another to another and before I knew it my day was gone.

I am supposed to be making smaller inexpensive products for the holiday but I've been struck indecisive. I hate it when I do this. It's not really indecisive per se, but a case where I have so many ideas that my brain is spinning out of control thus I can't pick a direction.

Bottom line, I was lacking supplies (yes, hard to believe) so I headed to Dick Blick to pick up a couple of things. Of course that meant I would be near Whole Foods. Which meant I had to get olives....the ones stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese...the ones I buy only 4 at a time because they are a little on the pricey side...the ones they keep behind the counter. About $1.50 buys enough for 2 martinis which is a nice little treat.

On the way home I popped into the mall to shop for John's birthday next week. I can't write about what I bought because he might be reading. I did not get it at Macy's though due to an idiot salesman named Jay. Good grief that guy is overzealous; he just drove me nuts, or in this case, he drove me right out of the store.

While at the mall, I stopped in Williams Sonoma for risotto and finally broke down and bought this darling little espresso maker I have lusted after. It replaces my old broken lid model that has lasted for years. I also bought some coffee there, Illy, a brand I had never tried before, the fine ground dark roast Espresso.

I had to hurry home to brew up afternoon lattes for me and John which was so civilized I fear I may have started a new habit. They were absolutely divine if I do say so myself, rivaling those from any coffee shop. If you have never tried one of these stove top coffee makers, they are the best. In fact I own a fancy schmancy one but I honestly prefer the stove top model.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


We did something different on the last day of the show......popped the canopy off the tent! It looked really cool; I loved seeing the gorgeous trees above the tent and it allowed the sun into the booth. I think it helped sales as well since I had my best ever single day sales on Sunday. What a terrific show and an exhilarating way to end my Art Fair Year!

So, onward and upward we go. I have a couple holiday events to prepare for. And several commissions that I have collected on my journey. No vacation or play time just yet. But I remain hopeful.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Great Gulfcoast indeed

This is Pensacola beach, the view from our hotel. It is really fabulous, the sand is so white and fluffy it looks as if it has snowed. And it is a cool here, but not quite that bad and also warming up significantly today, to the upper 60's. Then into the 70's for the rest of our visit.

The second view is what I saw upon waking. Gorgeous. There is nothing so restorative as the water. This is a lovely way to end my season.

The show starts in a couple hours. If you're in the Pensacola area, come see me at the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Beam me up

We are in Montgomery, AL, on our way to Pensacola. Staying in a Hampton Inn, per our usual pattern. This is an older one and, although it's been updated it's not quite as nice as some. The linens, mattress and pillow selection are still great though.

There is a smoke alarm above the bed, smack dab in the middle of the ceiling. It has a tiny green light which I am guessing is a power indicator, like it is working? Last night when the room was pitch dark, it cast a spotlight onto our bed. I kid you not. There were no performances in store though. John was pretty wiped after driving 9 hours in heavy rain. And I was wiped from telling him how to drive during 9 hours of heavy rain. I exaggerate, but I was a total wreck all day as that kind of driving scares the crap out of me.

Onward we go to Pensacola this morning where we will set up the booth.