Friday, August 31, 2012

Brought to you by the letters P & M.

This is a detail from Nomade, a painted stainless steel sculpture by Spanish artist, Jaume Plensa, installed in the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines, IA. I wandered through the park with my friends Dan & Rachel on a rainy afternoon. Rachel and I were both wearing canvas shoes--fools!--and while I can't speak for Rachel, my shoes are now the grossest things ever. Sorry for any shoe ruination you may have experienced, Rachel. Anyway, while standing inside this sculpture and reading all the angsty teenager graffiti, Rachel spotted something. She has such sharp eyes...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

new old curtains

I found this vintage fabric at an estate sale for 25 cents. I was attracted by the pattern and the bold primary colors, all in spite of the icky polyester-ness. Unlike my grandmothers, who (Mom has informed me) were pretty excited by the introduction of the first polyester fabrics--What do you mean, it doesn't wrinkle?--I had no plans to put this near my skin.

But curtains, well that's a different story. Unfortunately, my lack of sewing skills stood in the way of new curtains. Stood in the way of them big time. But lucky for me, Mom had stopped by for a visit and seemed game to break out her mother's vintage sewing machine, which I own and can sort of use...if you don't count that ongoing battle between myself and the bobbin. As for that, we are total jerks to each other. So, I put Mom to work and went to take a nap. True story...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Iowa! I mean, Eat-o-wa!

When you're in the Midwest, you need to eat like you're in the Midwest...and for me, that means MEAT. Please understand, I'm not terribly carnivorous at home. I don't usually buy meat because it's expensive and a pain to prepare. (OK, not thaaaaat much of a pain, but you must be mindful of cross-contamination, and really, I feel like I already have enough to worry about.) But if I don't have to prepare it, all bets are off. So, I spent this weekend eating meat, bread, and more meat & bread. I must say, it was pretty excellent. May I direct your attention to Exhibit A below? This brisket sandwich with pickles and onions was made by the good folks of B&B Grocery, Meat, and Deli. Yes. Please. Thank you. Always and forever...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The wind smelled of wildflowers...

I went up to Mt. Rainier on a week ago with my mom. The wildflowers were all in bloom, and being neither of us
 had been hiking at this particular time, we decided to go for it. We hiked all around Paradise. Every breath you
 took smelled of sweet wild flowers. It was truly magical...

Monday, August 27, 2012

dance lessons

Project for the week: studying this video and adding all these sweet moves to my repertoire. 
via Willow Springs

Capitol of the Midwest

This is the Iowa state capitol in Des Moines. I was visiting this weekend for a wedding and had occasion to wander the capitol and its grounds. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it. The building is beautiful, and there are free guided tours. I couldn't take one--because I was about to be late for a wedding--but I did hear a little something about
 tours including the dome. The dome! Oh man, next time for sure. One of the wedding guests, a Des Moines native (biased much?), told me that their capitol is the most beautiful in America. Still, I'm pretty close to convinced...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Plundering mother's garden

I took care of my mom's cats and her horse Sully over the weekend so she could go visit sister Christine in Spokane...ergo I plundered her garden. 
To be fair she certainly didn't mind, but boy did I get some treasures--check it out...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I live in a land the Praying Mantis love.

Recently, Ben and I started seeing these little guys around town. Praying mantises! This is a new experience for me, and I'm super-excited. Side-note: I have a cricket in my office (which is, apparently, good luck?). I don't exactly want to hurt it, but I also don't want it in residence any longer. I'm thinking about bringing in a praying mantis to do the vile deed. I would, of course, catch the insect assassin and release it back in to the wilds of Los Angeles. As for the mantis above? It was the first one we saw, just hanging around our hibiscus tree while I was succulenting in the garden beds...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

GNP is awesome!

No silly, I'm not talking about Gross National Product. I'm talking about Glacier National Park and how awesome it is. Nicholas and I were there last week for a speedy day trip through the park. We could have easily spent a few days there, but even in just the one day we saw some spectacular creatures--take a look...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dreams of alpacas...

Like most twenty-something girls, I want alpacas. Most girls want alpacas right?
Of course they do--they're cute, cuddly, relatively small, and has wonderfully smelling fiber.

One of my dreams came true last weekend when Nicholas, Christine, and I visited an alpaca farm in Spokane, WA. There, I met some of the cutest alpacas, though they weren't as friendly and cuddly as I would have liked. Nick was able to tame them a little bit. Christine and I purchased some roving that we will no doubt make into soft treasures that smell of washed alpaca (it smells delicious I promise).

For serious, check out how cute these little pac pacs are...

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Royal Nicolai's


On the 24th of July, I sent Catherine a text that ran along these lines: If we sisters were characters on The League, I'd be Kevin, you'd be Ruxin, and Monika would be Taco, I think.

Thus was born, the Who Would We Be? game, which Catherine and I have been playing ever since. We have covered:

Little WomenCatherine is Jo/Beth. Monika is Amy. I'm Meg. Actually, Catherine's precise words were: Little Women: easy. Monika is Amy. You're Meg. I'm Jo/Beth because I'm bossy and heart failure-y. 
Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead, Monika is Sue Ellen. Catherine is Melissa. I'm Kenny.
Arrested Development: Catherine is Michael. Monika is Gob, and I'm Buster, of course.
Harry Potter: Catherine is Hermione. Monika is both Fred & George Weasley. I'm Neville.

Most of the time we reason it out like this: Catherine is the bossiest, the smartest, and the most responsible. Monika is fun, honest, and outgoing. I'm introverted, nice, and generally terrified. But we all have hearts of gold. Yes. Just like hookers. Nice hookers. Expensive. Discerning. Hey, did you know that call girls are the highest class of hookers? Sociology class taught me and Catherine this useful bit of intel. So, we basically have call girl hearts...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Brief Musical Interlude: THE KING

Today marks the 35th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. Let's not dwell on that sad fact.
Instead, how about we bask in the glory that is Elvis in his prime! This song rules my universe.
There's almost nothing better to listen to while dancing around the kitchen. I promise.

Bison, deer, and pronghorns!

On our way to Hot Springs, MT, we decided to stop at the National Bison Range in Moiese, MT. The range was established in 1908 and houses over 400 bison and numerous deer, pronghorns, elk, birds, and chipmunks. It was well worth the slight detour because we got to see it all...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Limp in, leap out

The second day of our trip ended in Hot Springs, MT where we stayed at a little house we found for super cheap on airbnb. We stayed across from this hotel which also houses the hot springs. The Symes Hotel was built in 1930 for $50,000 and business thrived during the Depression. The locals told us, "the water really is magical." I wasn't sold, but Nicholas insisted it was worth the $7/day soak price...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Nicholas and I hit the road for a mini getaway. We started heading east on I-90 and didn't stop until we hit Glacier National Park. It was a quick, easy, and relaxing road trip full of Montana wildlife and pleasant happenings. I don't
 want to say that the highlight of the trip was catching the bison taking a crap on camera, but it might have been
(the photo is the PG know what happened next)...

Monday, August 13, 2012

let's get mystical

Chrysoprase pet rock necklace

It's true. Pet rock necklaces have the power to change you in ways you wouldn't believe...especially when they're
imbued with the mystical properties of various rocks and minerals. Who is the behind these bundles of happiness, confidence, and prosperity, you ask? Why Ms. Darbie Nowatka of Field Guide Design. 

I purchased the above Chrysoprase necklace as a graduation gift for Catherine. Not only does it encourage prosperity and success, but it also "protects against negative energies and facilitates happiness." You can see it right there on the card that comes with the necklace. Believe me, Catherine needs all the protection against negative energies she can get. No offense, sister, but you're constantly inundated with that stuff. I hope you're wearing this necklace like every single day. 

But if you're not surrounded by Negative Nellies, there are definitely other pet rock options. 

So many lovely choices!

Friday, August 10, 2012


Found this sweet vintage clutch at the Goodwill.

Vintage fabric for 50 cents at an estate sale.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Juno. Gold. Omaha. Utah. Sword.

When Dawn was visiting, we discovered that we had oh-so-many things in common. One unexpected delight was
 that we both have an extreme love of miniatures. So, when Dawn suggested we buy a large bag of toy soldiers
 I was not only supportive, I was giddy.

Just so happens we decided to head to the beach to play war. Thus leading to a post which bears the code names of
the beaches of Normandy as a title. Also, it reminds me of We Have Always Lived in the Castle: Melody. Gloucester. Pegasus. If you haven't read that book yet, you should. It's not about WWII--I may have created that misdirection. Anyway, you can learn more about it on Christine's post highlighted above (which by the way really cracks her up).

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

darling deerface

Little Bear Giclee Print

I'd like you to meet Devon Smith, the artist behind the darling Deerface. (Psst...I added the darling because she is!) This is a brief sampling of her illustrative work. Pretty pretty, right? I love how all the girls look either really petulant or really suspicious. And isn't petulant an excellent word? Petulant. Pet-u-lant. Sorry. This is how I amuse myself.

Double or Nothing watercolor & ink

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

paint-by-number love


OK, I realize that paint-by-numbers now carry some hipster stigma, but I still love them. I have several paint-by-numbers on display in my apartment, and even though they contribute heftily to my kitschy, cluttered, Victorian-era spinster aunt vibe, I refuse to remove them from their places of honor. All that being said, these paint-by-numbers have been perfectly integrated into a clean and modern design. No spinster aunts here, just quirky and bright conversation pieces. 

Who is the architect of these fine paint-by-number transformations? Janet Lee, author of Living in a Nutshell. Her new book is dedicated entirely to occupying, decorating, and thriving in small spaces. Don't mind if I do, Ms. Lee. 


Monday, August 6, 2012

Golden corgi

Nicholas' birthday was towards the end of July and because he loves corgis so much, I decided to make a special topper for his birthday key lime pie. I didn't just stop at a corgi topper. I went ahead and made toppers out of the whole wild kingdom. Take a look and maybe you'll be inspired to make your own gilded toppers. If you are so inspired, I included an easy-to-follow tutorial.

Started with a corgi figure that I bought at Michael's

Friday, August 3, 2012


Maya and I went walking a few weeks ago and came across a pile of old gravestones. Some were broken, some were mostly pristine. It was a mystery! But we picked up a couple chunks to use as bookends, and we made some tentative plans to return with my truck and load up as many gravestones as possible for the most amazing patio gravestone mosaic. I need to check the weight limits on my truck bed and get back there before someone discovers our secret cache!

instagram christinesuzanne

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Cat cottage!!!!

Peanut has been extra bad lately. She's been going crazy like whoa all the time, so I thought I would give her yet another interactive piece of furniture to play with...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Visitors from afar.

I recently had a week of visitors, well two visitors split up this last week. Ben's mom who traveled south from Washington to have some birthday fun, and Dawn made the trek (she flew, she didn't actually trek) from Austin, Texas.

Here is a peek of the fun times we had via instagram. Yea fun!

Ben helped me sew a Happy Birthday banner for his mom out of felt.
We used this to stage a fun little birthday party at Disneyland with party hats, pom-poms, and all that's good.

 We saw some men climbing the Matterhorn, they are the little blurry red dots way up at the top.

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