June 30, 2011

Vinyl Love.

Nekos and I often say that my love of clothes is equivalent to his love of music. Both take an equal toll on our bank account, and just as I'll slip downstairs in a new dress sort of hoping he won't notice that he's never seen me wear it before, he'll slip a new record onto the turntable sort of hoping I won't notice that I've never heard it before. Sometimes he doesn't notice my new dress because he is, after all, a dude. But I can't pretend that I haven't noticed that his vinyl collection has grown so mighty. We went from having several dozen handsomely worn records that we inherited from Nekos' uncle, aunt, and dad, to having hundreds and hundreds of records on shelves threatening to sag from the weight. The Groove in East Nashville is Nekos' second home these days.

This week he stayed up until midnight one night to make me a wicked vinyl mixed CD--recording some favorite vinyl tracks onto his computer and then putting them onto CD. On some songs I can hear the crackle of the dust embedded into the grooves of our older records. This is the tracklisting of the "vinyl CD" he assembled:

Heart "Crazy On You"
Kurtis Blow "The Breaks"
B52s "Mesopotamia"
Lulu "Love is to Love"
Robert Palmer "Sneaking Sally Through the Alley"
Elmore James "Done Somebody Wrong"
Ernie K. Doe "Mother-in-Law"
Jenny and Johnny "Love Hurts"
Jimmy Cliff "Many Rivers to Cross"
Luther Ingram "If Loving You Is Wrong"
Sly and the Family Stone "If You Want Me to Stay"
Ray Charles "You Don't Know Me"
Simply Red "Holdin Back the Years"
Stevie Wonder "Summer Soft"
Warpaint "Stars"
Betty LaVette "Sleep to Dream"
Rolling Stones "Let It Loose"

On my to-buy list are some old children's storybook records like these.

Don't tell Nekos, but I love our record collection almost as much as he does. I do, after all, love vintage clothes. It only makes sense that I like vintage music, too.

June 27, 2011

Henna Hands and a Full Heart.

I know this is a super cheesy post title, but the thing is: I ended up having an epic girls' night last night, and my heart really does feel especially full today because of it. Afterwards I got home and could hardly sleep because I was reflecting back on what a lovely and perfect night it was. I was invited to the shindig by a brand new girlfriend of mine, Emily Harper Beard, who I sort of fell in love with right away. And I feel so grateful that last night she introduced me to her best girlfriends--a close-knit group of sweet, feisty, variously talented women. The timing was on the money because just a few weeks ago I had admitted to myself and to the universe why I had been feeling blue and kind of empty: I've been lonely. When I don't have a girlfriend available who I can be vulnerable and silly with and vice versa, I just don't feel myself. I've always considered myself a girl's girl. But my closest girlfriend moved away from Nashville many months ago and as other friendships have ebbed I've been keeping my eyes peeled for some new positive, creative, and nurturing ladies to befriend. I think I may have hit the jackpot. Here are a few cell phone pics from last night, complete with henna tattoos done by Miranda Crump, and some serious harmony singing courtesy of Kim Collins and Robin Dennis. Not pictured: Geeking out over clothes and sewing with Rhiannon Guillet, talking babies with Cara Graham, stuffing delicious munchies and wine down my face, and a hysterical, glass-shattering trip-and-fall. Sigh ... Thank you universe and thank you ladies!

June 26, 2011


Photo courtesy of Pinterest
At the beginning of September, Nekos and I will celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary, and we have some vacation time set aside. All along we've been planning on returning to L.A. and exploring the surrounding area. I want badly to sip a cocktail somewhere in the Palm Springs desert, hike through the scrubby bushes of Runyon Canyon, and rummage around the Southern California towns I've heard of all my life--the ones with names as warm as the tropical sunsets I imagine they're home to. I want to lay on the beach with Nekos and feel the sun on my tummy and have late nights at dusky, twinkling hotspots like Bar Marmont. I want to hold hands and eat delicious food and sleep late. This time we'll leave Tessa at home with my mom. (Last time we hired a sitter to come two nights in a row to our hotel, which was nice until the baby still wanted to wake up at 6 a.m.)

Except that we've started to dream a little bigger about our precious vacation time. At first we thought, how about Paris?

But we've since revised our dream destination to be ... Barcelona. I've been obsessed with it ever since I saw Vicky Christina Barcelona (one of my favorite movies), and Nekos says it was his favorite stop along a month-long solo trek around Europe that he took in 2004. We've priced the flights and they're not terrible. In fact, I think that a trip to Barcelona would end up costing us about the same as a trip to Los Angeles because truthfully any trip just turns out to be expensive no matter where you go.

We talked over the pros and cons over dinner the other night with the main pros being: We need to do some serious travel while we have only one kid because it's just going to get more complicated when we have another. And ... I want to honor and celebrate our marriage with a really memorable trip. And ... I've only ever been to Europe once (to Amsterdam) and felt so inspired and electrified and I want that feeling back. And ... it just looks like a really fucking rad place to visit.

The cons, however, are pretty weighty: No. 1 I would miss the hell out of Tessa. I went 72 hours without her during a New Orleans trip, but I was jonesing so bad to see her after that amount of time that I almost had the shakes. Thinking of putting an ocean between us just makes me nervous. And ... asking my mom, who is single, to keep her for five nights would be a huuuuuge request. Tessa is a lot of work and she requires an enormous amount of patience, energy, and vigilance.

So we'll see what happens. Until then, I will keep dreaming of Spain ... and L.A., too. This blog is a good place for me to dream.

Barcelona, courtesy of Flickr

June 23, 2011

15 Months Old.

It seems I'm always posting pictures of messes that Tessa makes these days. (Did you see this catastrophe? Or this happy accident?) There are daily messes. Some are funny or surprising and some are just reoccurring. I remember in birth class--as we sat Indian-style in a circle on the floor--our teacher telling us that we new parents would need to ease up on expectations for the cleanliness of our homes. I also remember, about six months ago, sort of haughtily thinking that she had been wrong. I was still keeping things pretty neat and tidy, baby or not. Fast-forward to crawling and now walking and Tessa's ever-increasing motor skills. There are objects strewn in every room of the house. As I'm cleaning one room, she's destroying another.

Tessa Jean is 15 months old today. This is my favorite version of her so far. I had the sudden realization last week that she understands what I'm saying to her. If I say, "Bring mama a book and we'll read," she will fetch a book from her shelf in the other room and bring it to my lap. If I say, "Bring your chair in here," she will go into the living room to find her yellow plastic chair and she'll obediently drag it to wherever I am. When I ask her to, she can point to her nose, ears, mouth, teeth, hair, belly button, feet, hands, and tummy. She is paying attention. She has been paying attention all along, but I'm just now realizing it.

Here are some more things that are going on with Tessa:

Personality - I know this for sure: Tessa lives for her interactions with people. In the car, she's waving at the other cars zooming past. She says hiiiiiii!!!! to everyone we walk by and seems so perplexed by strangers who don't acknowledge her. Recently, I've been sneaking up to watch her while she plays alone with her toys and have been so stoked to see her begin to use her imagination. She's actually playing with her toys. Also to my delight, the kid LOVES books! She literally cries when I'm bored of reading to her. The cutest thing: She kisses all the characters in her board books: Leans in and presses her lips to the cardboard and says mmmmmmwah! Personally, I'm excited to get to the point where her books have plots and not just flashcard-type stuff. Thank the Lord her aversion to cuddling has come to an end. I mean, there aren't extended cuddle sessions unless she's under the weather but in general she wants nothing more than to sit in my lap and be carried around in my arms with her head tucked under my chin.

Food - She's not the best eater and never has been, but things are in a good place now with her diet. She accepts most cooked vegetables but very few fruits -- only bananas but refuses strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and melon. She sometimes likes things that surprise me--like plain tuna fish. She has eight teeth now -- four up top and four on the bottom -- but she still doesn't much like things that need to be chewed up. She now says "wa-wa" when she's thirsty. And now that she's on cow's milk instead of soy formula, her beverage of choice has gotten much less expensive.

Sleep - We are so lucky on this front! Since she was four or five months old, Tessa has been sleeping from 6:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. (or even a bit later). Once a week or so she'll wake up crying randomly and one of us will stagger into her bedroom to comfort her and she'll go right back to sleep. There are two key ingredients to this sound sleep: her blankie and her pacifier. We did cry-it-out when she was 4-5 months old and after some emotional-for-all nights, she seemed to realize that sleep is good for everyone. Now she gets in her crib as gratefully as Nekos and I do into our bed at night. She is also really portable -- she spends one to two nights a week over at my mom's house, where she has her own room, and can sleep in a Pack N' Play just about anywhere we pop it open. She's still taking her two-hour morning nap like clockwork but is refusing her afternoon nap more and more often.

Talking - About two weeks ago, I was Googling "Toddler Not Talking" and "How to Build Baby Vocabulary" -- stuff like that. Here's the most embarrassing and concerning part: Tessa's not saying "mama." I mean, she has said it but not often and not so that I know she knows. Believe me, I say "mama" to her 3,000 times a day. She says "dada" constantly -- sometimes in reference to Nekos and sometimes in reference to random objects and strangers. I'm still sad that she's not saying "mama" but I'm not so worried about her talking in general anymore. All of a sudden it seems there are lots of new words. She now says (with meaning): hi, buh-bye, uh-oh, woahhh (for things that she finds surprisingly marvelous), Gop (for our dog Garp), Ha-ee (for our dog Hattie), wa-wa (water), cah (car), foh-wer (flower), and soos (shoes).

Mother's Day Out - On Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. she's started going to a Mother's Day Out very near our house. I pack her a lunch and a nap mat and take her to play with four other little girls and one little boy. She sometimes cries when I leave her but she always looks so happy when I look through the door in the afternoon before I let her know that I've come to get her. I use this time to workout and get some of my freelance writing done. This time goes by really fast.

Happy 15 months, Little Bean.

June 22, 2011

She's everywhere I turn.

There are a couple of cool things I wanted to share:

First, I got this print of Tessa in the mail a couple of weeks ago from my sister-from-another-mister Brooke who lives allll the way across the country in Spokane, Washington. My first thought was that she'd had it commissioned, but then I saw her tiny signature in the lower corner and realized that she made it herself in her screen-printing class. She based it on these photos of Tessa, which are some of my favorites. I have no idea how she did it, but I love it so much. And can't wait to officially frame it and hang it.

And then, there's this:

Nekos got his first-ever tattoo yesterday! He's been talking about getting Tessa's silhouette inked on his wrist for awhile now, and I was super nervous but I'm obsessed with the way it turned out.

June 21, 2011

What I Wore - Errands.

This dress was hanging nonchalantly on the dress form outside Diamond Star Halo yesterday. Tessa and I sat across the street having an ice cream on the front porch of the Pied Piper while the dress beckoned to me. I felt compelled to try it on. And then compelled to buy it. 

I could call it a maxi dress, but let's be frank here: It's a muumuu. OK, maybe it's a nightgown. All I know is ... wearing it without a belt would be insane and this little-house-on-the-prairie dress made errands way more fun today. And also: Leopard flats look good with everything. 

June 20, 2011

A Summer Scarf DIY I'm Diggin'

This DIY wasn't my idea, but oh how I wish it had been! It's from SewMamaSew and it's called the Sweet Baby June Cowl. It's supposed to use voile and linen, but the one that I made with voile and plain ol' cotton was lots comfier since linen can be scratchy. 

I made three of these scarves the other weekend when Nekos was out of town. I gave one to my mama, but here are the other two:

I especially love the floral fabric on this one, which is designed by Nashville's own Anna Maria Horner.

Since all fabric at Nashville's Textile Fabrics is now half-off, I went to town with buying pretty fabrics and trims specifically to make these scarves. Now I have fabrics in mind to make three more of these. I love simple patterns like this that can be transformed to look completely different depending on the fabric and trim you choose.

So ... one of the fashion bloggers I follow--Calivintage--almost always includes these cool "jumping" pictures, where she looks to be levitating in one of her lovely outfits. Yesterday I asked Nekos to take some jumping pictures of me for fun. Turns out, it's 100 percent impossible for me to jump into the air without having a look on my face very similar to this:

I can't imagine what a maniac I must look like on a trampoline. So I'm going to leave the jumping pictures to that other blogger.

June 17, 2011

Nom Nom Nom.

I wanted to eat 95 of these muffins shortly after I made them. But the corn chowder was even better. Because every recipe from Cook's Illustrated is inevitably genius, though long-winded, and perfect every single time. And also because bacon effortlessly makes every thing amazing. The muffins weren't from the mag but from a lucky find online. I'm still fighting the urge to fetch a third from the kitchen.

Cook's Illustrated Lighter Corn Chowder
Blueberry Macadamia Nut Coconut Muffins

June 16, 2011

Pampers Giveaway Winner Announced!

The winner of two packs of Pampers diapers is ...

Bridge, email your contact information and the size diapers you need to ellen.mallernee@gmail.com and we'll get them sent your way.

Congrats and happy diapering!

The Blue Jean Baby Project: Turn Jeans into One-of-a-Kind Shorts

The Blue Jean Baby Project is back! I took a week-long break, during which time the mister stole the camera away to Bonnaroo. We are now on to the shorts part of our segment--with this week and next week concentrating on "jorts." In case you missed them, here are the other three pairs of jeans I've already transformed: 1, 2, and 3

The jeans: I've had this pair of Big Star jeans for a long time but wasn't really wearing them because the bottoms had gotten shredded in the back. Since I'm loving denim shorts this summer I decided to make them into shorts with some fun details. 

The inspiration: I had two specific inspirations for these shorts. First, a pair of Revolve Clothing jean shorts I spied with zippers along the outseams. If you've ever tried to turn a pair of jeans into cut-offs, you'll know that they often end up too tight on the thigh--like denim biker shorts. But adding zippers to the sides is a perfect way to give you more room in the thighs, right? And then I saw these lovely patchwork shorts from Roxy. Bam, inspired.
Sources: Left, Lost and Found 2 Shorts from Roxy. Right, Alex Zipper Shorts from Revolve Clothing
The cost: $4 for zippers. I bought 2 Coats & Clark 7" closed bottom sport zippers. You may also want to pick up some denim thread (approx $1) and a zipper foot for your sewing machine if you don't already have one (approx $2). 

The time: 2 hours

The process: Cut off the legs of your jeans at the length of your choice. Then tear out the outseams so that they're open the same length of your zipper. Pin your zipper in place, install the zipper foot on your sewing machine, and sew that bad boy on. I was really nervous about this part because I hadn't installed a zipper before but I found it really easy and I like the way it turned out even if it's not technically perfect. 

This denim thread was the best because you couldn't see my stitches at all so I didn't have to worry about being neat.

Here's the finished zipper stitched in place:

Next I pinned squares of scrap fabric in place to my liking and stitched them on. Here they are nicely frayed after one wash.

Jump for joy - you're done!

June 13, 2011

Yep, I Took a Baby to Bonnaroo.

There are dozens of voices in my head, and they're all telling me how to parent. I've struggled to ignore that thrum of voices long enough to listen to my own one voice, which is surprisingly clear and wise. It's such an important thing to struggle for: To give Tessa the childhood that we think she should have and not the childhood that anyone else thinks she should have. 

When it comes to taking a baby to Bonnaroo, there are even more opinions ricocheting around my noggin--mostly, all the voices that I've heard over the years saying, 'I would never bring a baby to Bonnaroo.' 

I'd known for awhile that I'd have a friend's guest pass to the festival on Sunday if I wanted it. And I purposefully didn't look very hard for a sitter for Tess. I wanted her with me. I wanted her to experience the sights and sounds of Bonnaroo, which is like another planet. After a sound two-hour nap and a big lunch, I packed her up and took her to Manchester, Tennessee--about a 75-minute drive from Nashville. 

And I am so, so, so happy I did! She had so much fun and was so happy to see her da-da. So was I. It had been a lonely few days for me doing some single-parenting. Somehow it's lonelier to be alone with a baby than to just be alone. 

I stayed for five hours--heard some Amos Lee and some Cold War Kids, hung out in the shady area backstage and ate popsicles, took Tess to the Kids' Zone, and introduced her to some Knoxville friends we hadn't seen in too long. She slept the whole way home.