July 30, 2012

Stuff I Made: Distressed, Chalkpainted Corner Hutch.

My mom gave me this corner hutch for our kitchen several years ago. It's been in our family for 30 years; it was a gift to my mom from my grandfather the year I was born. I've always intended to paint it because although it's a really nice piece of furniture, and we can use all the storage space we can get, it looked outdated to me. Howevs, I dreaded stripping the varnish, sanding it, priming it, painting it, waxing it--the whole long process that goes into painting a piece of furniture the right way. 

Then I heard about Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint! It's basically a miracle paint; not only does it come in all these precious English cottage kind of colors, but you can slap it on right over a piece of furniture without any prep work. And you only need one coat of paint. And it dries quick as can be. And then you just slap one coat of Annie's Soft Wax over the finished product and POW--shabby chic to the max. 

I used Annie's Old White paint for the outside and Paris Gray to accent the inside and the centers of the bottom cabinets. Between painting it and waxing it, I used my electric sander to distress it. And then I took out the glass and added chicken wire, basically blatantly copying this blogger whose corner hutch makeover I fell in love with. I still have the glass, and I love that I can put it back in whenever I feel like toning down how rustic this piece has become. Basically ... I just love and adore this piece now. It makes me grin every time I walk past it.

The paint is pricey, at a little over $30 for a quart, but one quart covers 150 square feet, which is enough to paint about four dressers. To my knowledge there are only two shops in the Nashville area that sell it: C'est Moi in Brentwood (which is the adorable shop where I got mine) and Then & Again Home Marketplace in Hendersonville.

I can't wait to paint more stuff.

* I apologize for the "before" picture. Nekos wasn't around to adjust my camera settings. :(

July 17, 2012

21 Weeks, Honestly.

I wish this status update on my pregnancy was more positive, and I wish so badly that I would be one of those women who love! being! pregnant! but I'm so not. The only thing I really like about it is not having to diet (great glugs of half and half in my coffee!) and feeling the baby move (endlessly magical). Otherwise it's a time of such great transition that I feel uneasy and not myself and also kind of trapped in my body and my life and by the huge decisions we've made. I love being a mom, but this part of it doesn't agree with me.

Physically: Compared to the first four months, I feel terrific physically. I get the occasional wave of nausea when my stomach's empty, but nothing like it was. I'm still really tired, and take naps several times a week when I can. I'm also dealing with insomnia, but it's a different kind than when I wasn't pregnant. I usually don't have much trouble falling asleep, but then I wake up having to pee (of course), realize I'm hungry and go downstairs to have a bowl of cereal, and then stay up reading so that I'm often up for an hour or so in the dead of night.

I've gained 8 lbs. so far, and it's really picking up speed now because I'm suddenly hungry all day long. I gained 25 lbs. with Tessa, and I'm hoping to stay under that with this pregnancy so I have less work (and less glum staring in the mirror) to do post-partum. In most outfits right now, I just look like I have a fantastic beer gut so I'm having plenty of moments when I stand in front of my closet, feel like I have nothing to wear, and end up putting on something that makes me feel sloppy. There's only one bra that fits now, and it's beige. I just ordered two pairs of skinny maternity jeans from ASOS yesterday, though, so I'm hoping they'll help me out. 

Emotionally: This part has been tough for me, as I've been struggling with the blues and some panic attacks during this pregnancy. Not can't-get-out-of-bed depression or anything like that, but a general melancholy and some loneliness. And after I have a panic attack, there's a 24-hour panic attack hangover that follows, wherein I feel bad about myself for being so anxious, and sad and scared that my body reacts to anxiety like it does.

I'm worrying plenty about the postpartum period, which was awful and scary for me in 2010 in the weeks after I had Tessa. What's helped is that I've started seeing a therapist who specializes in post-partum issues, and we're working on some things, including a plan for after the baby is born so that I get lots of TLC and am well taken care of until my hormones get back to something like normal. I am still taking my anti-depressant, but I can't take much else so it's been a good time (if not the most pleasant time) to deal with some issues I've been squirreling away for a rainy day. None of this has been pleasant for Nekos either, and I feel even worse about that.

On a positive note, I'm in a little bit less of a hurry to get through this pregnancy than I was the first time. Now I know what to expect--I actually loved giving birth and there's less mystery about what the baby will look like--and I know how fast time goes so I'm trying to be in this moment, in this pregnant pause. This may very well be my last pregnancy.

Baby Girl: I've been feeling her flutter for several weeks now, but only last week did I begin to really feel her kick so that if my hands are pressed against my stomach they'll jump when she squirms around. This is my favorite part of pregnancy, and generally the only time during the day when I sit down and sit still and meditate on the pregnancy and feel grateful for the little flame that's been lit inside me.

I also feel so much more connected to the baby now that I know she's a she. I can't tell you how excited I am to being having another girl and what a relief it is to be walking (strolling? babywearing?) into familiar territory. I'm feeling the first stirrings of love for this new child after such a difficult pregnancy. I know she will be worth every bit of it, and I mean it.

The baby weighs about a pound now and is in grow mode, set to get bigger by leaps and bounds in the weeks to come. We are close to a name for her. There's one we really like, but are we obsessed? And there have been plenty more that we liked a lot, too, but have ruled out as too unique. I don't want to plaque our baby with a too-unusual name that may not suit her personality.

How Tessa's Dealing: Tessa is pretty confused about the baby on the way. She is convinced that she's pregnant and that there's a baby inside her tummy and she reminds us every day. I get it. Pregnancy is weird. It's weird to me so I'm sure it's hard for a two-year-old to comprehend. But I have a feeling that as social, assertive, and helpful as Tessa is, she's going to be a dream of a big sister.

I can't say enough about how much I love and enjoy Tessa's company right now. She is bright and cracks me up and she's energetic and heaping love on me, more love than I've ever felt from her. After two years or so of giving and giving and giving it feels so beautiful to be receiving love back from her. At night when I lie in her bed with her before she falls asleep, she rubs my arm very maternally and puts her face just inches from mine. Looking, unblinking, into my eyes she says, "I so much love you, mama," and her breath is earnest and sweet. This is the part of parenting that's addictive; it's the kind of intensely fulfilling hit of pleasure that can't be achieved any other way. The kind that makes people like me, people who are scared and overwhelmed, keep having babies.

July 11, 2012

It's a ... !

This morning felt like Christmas morning. Well, way better than Christmas morning. I woke up with anticipation so intense that I skipped my morning coffee because I thought I otherwise might stroke out. How many days in your life hold so much importance as the day you find out whether you'll have a son or a daughter ... for the rest of your life?

Over the past four and a half months, I've wavered so much about whether I wanted a boy or a girl. And after pulling for a boy for the first few months, I'd had a change of heart recently and gotten way comfortable with the idea of either. I could see the pros and cons of both. And, as an only child, I'd always wished either for a protective older brother or a sister who I could tell everything to. I went in this morning wanting whatever we were having ... but dying to know either way.

The ultrasound technician told us that the baby had its foot near its private parts, and that it was hard to see the gender. But I saw. When she moved her foot, I saw: 

We are having another girl!

I don't even want to say "another" because this little girl deserves a spotlight all her own. She isn't second. She's first in her own right, and I'm so excited to see how her looks and personality and spirit will be different from Tessa's.

I cried, of course, and felt a huge rush of relief and joy, a 'this is exactly right'-ness.

Afterwards I picked Tessa up from Mother's Day Out. This was her non-reaction reaction involving "rainbow fish":

Oh, well. The rest of us are thrilled!

July 10, 2012

The Beach ... in Nashville!

We don't have a vacation planned at any point in the near future. As someone who sort of lives her life from one anticipated vacation to another, I've done my fair share of fretting about this. But we've been trying to create lots of mini adventures this summer to quench our thirst for the beach.

I've heard for years about Nashville's Anderson Road Recreation Area at Percy Priest Lake but felt dubious about how great a faux beach could really be. But after breakfast at our favorite greasy spoon on Saturday morning, we headed out to give it a go. As soon as we got there, it was like, ahhhhhhh. We had a ball, the three of us. Can't wait to go back again and again, next time with floats.  

July 9, 2012

Stuff I Made: Patchwork Curtain + Bathroom Dreams.

Hi! My room project of the moment is our bathroom. I made this patchwork curtain for it on Friday out of scraps of white and ivory and handkerchiefs and lacy/crochet stuff I had. One of those handkerchiefs--the one with the red embroidered flower--I've had since I was a little girl. I remember finding a baby bunny and using that handkerchief as its blanket. Pretty sure that baby bunny was smothered by my well-meaning love long before it had a chance to grow big and strong and hop off somewhere more suitable for a bunny. This curtain is wonky in all the right ways. Just about all the stuff I make is. I'm grateful that I'm not a perfectionist about my sewing. Otherwise I'd never get anything done. 

I also recently bought this shabby-chic-to-the-max old hanging shelf from local shop Old Made Good and hung it in the bathroom to hold perfumes/colognes and favorite lotions and serums and stuff. 

And I bought this shower curtain on sale at Anthropologie. 

Now I'm trying to convince Nekos that it's a good idea to paint the bathroom a deep turquoise, like the bathroom below, and I'm looking for an old mantle to put in the bathroom.

Sources: 1, 2 

For years, I have been dreaming about ripping out our plastic tub and putting in a clawfoot soaking tub. I really like this one. I literally take a bath almost every night before bed; it's part of my relax routine since I can't anesthetize my monkey mind with sleeping pills because I'm pregnant and all. My bath tub dreams remain on hold, however; we are really trying to save money so we can afford for me to take a short maternity leave from work in December. In the meantime, little changes make a big difference. 

Speaking of the baby, we find out what we're having on Wednesday! Meaning, the next home project will be the new nursery! 

July 5, 2012

Lots of Independence.

After lots of hemming, hawing and hand-wringing, we declared yesterday "Independence from Pacifier Day." The hesitation was because I mean, really, what is the harm of a two-year-old using a pacifier for her naps and at night (and also, occasionally, when she is screaming insanely in the car and making me want to die inside)? And because why woud I ever take something away from my daughter that helps her (and us!) sleep, longer and deeper? But Tessa's pediatrician said it had to go because it would, if it hadn't already, begin to affect her teeth. And this kid doesn't just let her pacifier languish inside her mouth; she sucks on it vigorously all night long, her bubble-gum pink lips pulsing around the edge of it. Many a night have I watched her sleep and meditated on the miracle of that little mouth. This is one of the reasons why I was very emotional about what had to happen yesterday.

In the morning she and I gathered up all of her trusty pacifiers and put them into a Ziplock bag. We carried them out to the mailbox; Nekos lifted her up and she put them proudly inside and we "mailed" them to a friend's newborn baby who "really needs the Yayas." "Yaya" is what Tessa has always called her pacifiers. It's also what she calls my mom, incidentally. Sources of comfort all around. 

Afterwards, I took Tess to Target with the intention to buy her a reward for being so brave. In my immense pride (and terror for her upcoming pacifier-less nap time), I went overboard. We came home with lots of rewards: Candy Land, a new doll stroller, a rainbow of Play Doh colors, a new swimsuit, and a Big Bird stuffed animal. Also, bubble gum and Goldfish crackers. I know.

At naptime, there was no crying, just a little fretting, which I tried to soothe with a lot of "You're a Big Girl" B.S. And then, after I closed her door, there was silence. Deep, sweet silence for three hours. And last night, after we were home from the fireworks, I lay in her bed and we did "nose kisses" for an inordinately long time, and I said, goodnight angelpieloveofmylife, and then there was that silence again, extraordinary and surprising. It was that easy. I can't believe it. All my worry for nothing. And isn't that the way it always is?

One other note about yesterday: We took Tessa, who is the textbook definition of a social butterfly, to the park near our house for a good vantage point of the fireworks downtown. We packed fried chicken and biscuits with honey and potato salad and watermelon and cole slaw. And Tessa was everywhere, running between families, tossing fist-fulls of dust from the baseball field into the air, tagging along with older girls who flashed Tess impatient eyes that she's still (thankfully) too young to register, moving and flitting faster than I could follow. I tried to relax and trust and let her be. Until I looked for her and couldn't find her. By then, it had grown dark and there were probably a hundred families at the same park. We dispatched the friends who were with us to fan out and search for her, and Nekos and I separated and went to look for her. We looked for the orange glowstick bracelet around her wrist and the pink glowstick in her hand, for the unruly, stubby ponytail and the gingham shirt. It took five minutes to find her. FIVE MINUTES. 300 WHOLE SECONDS. By the time a friend of mine came up carrying her, having collected her from a group of strangers nearby, I burst into tears. I would leash her if I could. But the kind of girl Tessa is can't be leashed, just watched more closely, watched closely while she's still mine.

July 3, 2012

Stuff I Made: Basil & Rosemary Lemonades.

I've been craving ice cold lemonade, and considering that Nashville is the hottest city in the nation this week, the time is ripe. There's a restaurant here in East Nashville called The Silly Goose that has the most delicious herb-infused teas and lemonades, and I think about them an inappropriate amount. This week I started experimenting with lemonade + fresh herbs. Tessa was excited to help squeeze the lemons and to turn our kitchen into a lemon graveyard, although she alternately requested pink or blue lemonade before settling resolutely on blue. We did one batch of rosemary lemonade and one batch of basil lemonade. Both were super great, but the basil was my favorite because the herb flavor was a little more subtle. Here's how we did it:

Basil Lemonade
1 c. lemon juice
1 c. basil
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups water

Muddle 1 cup of fresh basil with 1/2 cup sugar. This sounds like a lot of basil, but it takes a lot to get a little flavor. Muddle for several minutes until basil is very bruised. Add one cup of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and stir until sugar dissolves. Then strain, and add 5 cups cold water. Serve on ice with a basil leaf as garnish.

Rosemary Lemonade
1 c. lemon juice
2 sprigs rosemary 
3/4 cup agave nectar
6 cups water

Bring 3 cups of water to boil with 2 sprigs of rosemary. After bringing to boil, turn off stove and let steep for 30 minutes. Then strain rosemary water and add 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 3/4 cup agave nectar, and three cups cold water. Stir well and serve over ice with some rosemary as garnish. 

July 2, 2012

Stuff I Love: Handmade for the Littles.

Yesterday I got several blissful hours to sew this bag for Tessa. I used chambray and this colored pencil fabric that I had and blew up this font, called Unicorn, in Photoshop. Her old carry-all had been through the ringer, and I finally tossed it a couple of weeks ago. 

In our house, Tessa's "schedule" is dictated by whether or not I get an email from my boss in the morning saying "Urgent! Urgent!" ... or not. In other words, we are often throwing things into her bag to head off to Mother's Day Out or drop-in daycare or grandma's house so I can steal away to write for a few hours. Her bag is our lifeline. And this one, little mistakes and all, I love. I've used this pattern before; it's from the Handmade Home book, but I made it six inches wider and longer than the pattern called for and added wider straps + the lettering. 

Also, I had to share these finds. My mom and I collected them from the Porter Flea Market/Craft Fair in Nashville a few weeks ago. I was feeling weird about not having begun to feather the new baby's nest. This, I think, is a great start. That little lion is a rattle! And you better believe that bonnet has bear ears.