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It’s that time again. Time to dump some instagrams and catch up a little so I can show off my new April banner. I don’t pay $79 bucks a month to keep this site up for nothing. I know, it’s ridiculous isn’t it? The price I pay to maintain all these memories because I’m too lazy to figure out a better way. Someday I think it will pay off. Someday…

Let’s catch up!

    1. The kids are rollerblading every day. It’s amazing. Their legs hurt at night because they use their muscles so much.  Rollerblades were the smartest Christmas gift we ever gave them. If you have kids with Minecraft addictions, I cannot recommend rollerblades enough. It’s made them kids again with real things to talk about instead of mods and skins and jokes from people who talk in Australlian accents on their Youtube channels.
    2. It’s Spring! The nature trail where I walk the dogs is busting at the seams with wild flowers and it’s divine. I walk along cataloging how much each stem would cost in my old flower stand days. I could make a fortune!
    3. Vegetables. I signed up to get another subscription-based box of vegetables  delivered to the house and I LOVE it. It’s so fresh and best of the season. I think I might never go shopping again. I admit though, I might have a delivery dependence because it’s so cool to get boxes of surprises delivered to your door. (So far I’ve got stitch fix and blue apron…) But have you calculated how much you spend on stupid seasonal Target end-cap displays? Here’s my theory: if you don’t see them, you don’t know you need them and that is a savings right there.
    4. I have an iPad pro! I’m kinda upset that it doesn’t work like a wacom tablet but it is a pretty good tool and I use it for filming craft videos which is kind of awesome. More on that later.
    5. Kids in their new spring outfits! We went to the ballet a while back and it was a nightmare trying to find the kids something to wear that was “fancy”. They pulled out sundresses five sizes too small and matched them with dirty converse and different colored footie socks. I hung my head in shame. This is what happens when you don’t go to church every Sunday anymore. So I marched them to Target (and yes, I fell for some seasonal end-cap crap) and bought everyone new Spring outfits. Now they have at least two fancy dresses to wear for special occasions. No more excuses and no more growing!
    6. Blue pancakes! Because why not? Now that everyone has Moana fever it seemed appropriate.

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  1. Daffodils from Trader Joes! That seems like old news now and I guess it is but is there anything more announcing of Spring than when the daffodils come in?! I wish I could grow them in our yard. I have before but they always peter out after a year.
  2. Joon in her glasses looking cute. Got nothing else there.
  3. It’s a lone duck. I’m so bored of the lake. I used to walk there everyday with the dogs but it’s just the same old lake over and over. Plus, I run into so many other dog owners and it’s always mayhem and I’m just tired of it. So now we go to the nature trail and risk being circled by crazy guys on bikes (yes, that happened), howling coyotes (happened 2x now) and old men who have it out for me. Not really but there was a brief time when I though this one old man was trying to chase me out of the park.
  4. Bug in her pajamas on the couch with Cody. Who lets their big ol’ stinky oaf of a dog on the couch?! It’s a bad habit we’ve picked up, sadly. And there ain’t any going back now. We’re holding out on the bed though.
  5. Snoring. Both Payam and I snore. It sucks. I never used to but I guess old age has finally caught up to me. Thankfully, I do not have sleep apnea though. I seem to have escaped it! Yay!
  6. Straw hair: Bug’s great hair-coloring experiment has run it’s course. The colors have washed out and I’m not keen on re-inventing them. I think we are just going to trim the dry straw off and let it grow back to it’s normal color. End of story. Hopefully she got it out of her system. And even though it often looks completely unnatural and like something went really wrong with her hair, it has been kind of rocker-fairy fun.

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  1. It’s an octopus with a brush! This means nothing. I was just staring at the illustration on Bug’s detangler spray and I was impressed. Now that I illustrate everyday and I know how long things take, I’m kind of in awe that we buy so many products with hours and hours of artwork put into them and often we don’t even notice. It’s kind of sad that illustrators are so often overlooked. I was at my publisher’s house and she was showing me this easy reader book that had amazing illustrations but the story was nonexistent. It didn’t even make sense or have an ending. It just left you hanging there, forcing you to make up the rest of the story in your head. I felt bad that some artist worked so hard and their work ended up so haphazard and disrespected. It’s kind like walking in front of a live band playing and not acknowledging that they are creating something really cool. It’s worse even. It’s like pretending the live band was wall paper that you can push your rusty old garage refrigerator up against and pop open for a can of beer with your gut hanging out while you sit facing the opposite direction. Wow. I feel strongly about this. Who knew?!
  2. There was candy at the ballet! We went and saw Whipped Cream by the American Ballet Theatre and it was so good! I don’t even know where to start. The costumes and interpretations of the Mark Ryden’s art was amazing. I will be inspired by this ballet for years! If you have a chance to see it you must!
  3. It’s Snot Fair! I swear this is the book that probably has the most chance of getting me famous and I am forever going to be embarrassed of. Yes, I illustrated snot and farts and toilets and lion puke. You’ll have to buy it to believe it.
  4. Absolutely no progress on the Buddha painting. Sad face.
  5. The girls at the ballet in what they cobbled together as a “fancy outfit”
  6. Whiskey. I love him when he needs a haircut. His face is so much cuter when you can’t see his beady little eyes that are too close together. I’d be happy to leave him with his puppy muppet hair forever if he didn’t stink and get mattes under his ears. So off to the groomer he goes! I did try to take a shower with him and groom him myself once. It was only mildly successful and a TON of work.

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  1. Payam made me a pen holder stand for my apple pen! I have an apple, I have a pen… (don’t click on that link, you’ll hate me forever.)
  2. Kids and swimming, what is the fascination? Why do they think that if they break a mild sweat it means you must go swimming that very minute? Why do they think spring weather is swimming weather? Why do they think we should go swimming when it’s time to cook dinner and then if you give in they want to know why dinner isn’t ready because they are STARVING? Why?! I’d laid down the law and said that I only go swimming if it’s after 2pm and over 80. They don’t like my rule very much right now but they’ll get payback come summer.
  3. Aww Whiskey.  Such a love.
  4. Cook’s Corner! Payam and I attended an 80-something year-old’s birthday at this old biker bar and let me tell you, it was a hoot. Talk about getting out of your rut. They had the best music and we were right in the front row dancing until we got sweaty.   It was a lot of fun. The $4.99 spaghetti dinner wasn’t too bad either.
  5. More blue pancakes. What can I say? They might be bad for you but they sure are photogenic.
  6. Daffodils in their full glory and my grandmother’s old blue china pitcher. I love that pitcher and I especially love it with daffodils in it. If it ever breaks I will cry.

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  1. One day I woke up and realized I had gained thirty pounds without even realizing it. Yeah, I skipped a whole block of numbers on the on the scale without ever even seeing them go by. Everyone says to throw out your scale but I did and look what happened! Of course there are other factors like a huge lifestyle change that included happiness and my age…but still. So I’m back on my scale and using the My Fitness Pal ap. I have a love hate relationship with tracking calories. It works but I have to not be too strict or else I catch myself rebelling which is even worse news. But I do have to say I am getting back to my old self and it feels really good. If you’re on this journey too you should friend me on the ap so you can watch me lose the same six pounds over and over again. It’s fun. All that because of a picture of a salad. Salads are like crack when you cut calories. You can eat so much lettuce and it counts for almost nothing! Salad dressing on the other hand is the devil himself.
  2. Hah! Here I am going on about a healthy diet and then I show you a picture of our first picnic of the year with McDonald’s of all things . I am not sponsored by McDonalds in any way but they should sponsor me because I do love them. I hate our local drive-through with the passion of a thousand suns but I am particularly happy with their artisan chicken sandwiches. So much flavor for only a smattering of calories. Sadly, french fries and I are not seeing each other any more though.
  3. Spring outfits being springy!
  4. Hej da! That means see you later guys in Swedish. But to us it means meatballs and ice cream!
  5. Swimming in April is for the birds.
  6. Spring in the nature trail. It’s bananas.

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  1. So have you checked out my craft movies? I’m having a lot of fun with them. The best one is still yet to come. I don’t love the music in the dragon eggs one but it was a fun craft to make. You should definitely try it if you are up to a few glue gun burns. So worth the pain.  These girls in the trees are my modeling crew. They are a fun bunch. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they outgrow me.
  2. Bangs! I’ve stopped parting my hair on the side and it’s been one of my smarter decisions. I was so stuck in my 90’s high school hairstyle. So stuck.
  3. Bug wears my clothes sometimes for pajamas. It’s adorable but also scary!
  4. What are they doing here? Puking up post-it notes? We were rollerblading to the local school to let the dogs run in the field and these post-it notes were stuck on a random trailer on our way. This is the pose they made. I don’t complain I just click away with my camera phone because it’s not every day they like their picture taken.
  5. Aww…they look so cute in their Spring outfits. This was taken on Norooz, the Persian New Year. It really goes off around here because we have a high population of middle-easterners and they like to party and by party I mean have a gigantic picnic in the park that blocks traffic for three miles in all directions. Crazy time! But also fun.

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  1. This block is kinda moody but it’s really just a trick of the light and not symbolic of anything. Bug and I have Wednesdays together every week when she is with her dad and it is the best thing ever. I took this photo on our dog walk. The kids don’t always come with me on dog walks but when they do they always rollerblade.
  2. For a short time I was waking up at the crack of dawn and running with my new workout friend. While it was great for seeing sunrises it did not last long because my calves kept cramping up. It was like I was running on stumps of bloody murderous pain. It was terrible. I’ve since decided that my on-going vitamin D deficiency (that I’ve known about since my last doctor visit a year ago) is the culprit. My arms and legs were hurting all the time. So I upped my vitamins and gave up running. Yoga and dog-walking is filling the gap and I’m no longer in pain. Vitamins and dogs for the win! Your 40’s are all about moderation. That’s what I’ve learned.
  3. Repeat duck. Oops.

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  1. Hey there! It’s Gigantic Brenda and Payam! Whenever I post a picture like this I always get a lot of likes which translate to dopamine hits and so I’m now addicted. Everyone loves a love story and ours is a pretty good one.
  2. All dressed up for the ballet again. We aren’t ballet fanatics usually. Just two ballets in the span of a month. We went to see Shen Yun and sadly, I slept through the second half. Yes, I feel bad. Morning people are so rude when they stay up past their bedtime.
  3. Dragon Eggs! They are very cool. Not so great at hiding treasure inside of but very fun to hunt for and do kids really need more candy anyway? I say no.
  4. Oh hey! Did you know I have a new book out? Yeah, it came out last month and it has NO REVIEWS! If you bought it you should go find the link and review it because I really need reviews. And then you should tell me so I can send you some chocolate or something.
  5. iPad drawing of Little Hoo. I got nothing else.
  6. Me and kids. I do love these knuckleheads. Things are going so much better between them. They say they aren’t friends but I think otherwise. They have a bond that will go beyond me and Payam I think.

 

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  1. Speaking of that mother daughter day, Bug and I had the best shopping day this week. I had some extra funds that I don’t usually have so we made sure that we spent it twice-over in true mis-managing money fashion. We had breakfast and lunch out. We bought some new outfits…and had macarons at our favorite place. It was great.
  2. Joon at the beach getting covered in sand, her favorite pastime. The kids are on Spring Break this week but they are at their other parent’s who work full time, which means I got to steal them back here and there for a few days to help out. It’s been nice. I always feel bad for the kids when they get stuck bored during their vacation days because grown-ups have to work. Of course that means I didn’t get much work done either but that’s the beauty of freelancing. I’ll make it up somewhere else.
  3. Bug looking kawaii next to a giant ice cream cone.
  4. It’s a bunny! It’s a blob! It’s a latte made for me by Joon! She is the best barista in the house these days even though she doesn’t touch a drop of coffee. Bug on the other hand sneaks sips. I think she is going to be a coffee-aholic like me someday which of course makes me super happy.
  5. Oh yes, Whisky on the dog house roof. Those of you who follow along on my instagram feed already know all these stories including the one about Whiskey and his many issues with Cody vacuum-cleaning up his food. Whiskey would like to recline and eat kibble by kibble daintily all afternoon at a very leisurely pace. Cody would like to EAT ALL THE THINGS!!! as fast as he possibly can and have some more, please. You can see why this might become an issue between the two dogs. Whiskey is getting bent out of shape and sulks.  I think someday we might have to put him on prozac before he starts chewing at himself and going crazy, the poor dog. I had the bright idea of putting Whiskey’s food up high where I thought only he could get it because he’s a little more agile than big ol’ Cody. That did not work. Now we have ninety-pound Cody jumping up on top of the doghouse that was not built to hold ninety-pounds.  All the puppy manuals say not to feed your dogs separately because this causes territorial issues but I think the puppy manuals did not meet Cody and Whiskey. We have not solved this problem yet. Stay tuned.
  6. That’s it! I’m sorry this was a pretty boring post.

Slow News Day. Let’s tour the new office!

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You know how I was belaboring the point that I wished I had my own room? It’s a very spoiled thing to wish for. I live in a very beautiful house with many rooms. Each girl has their own room. We have a giant living room/dining room, a nice big kitchen, an office, all the main rooms have vaulted ceilings, there is even an atrium!  Everything feels very big and grand and there really is no lack of space unless you fill it all up with knick knacks and tchotchke, like you do.

The main problem, that is really not a problem at all, is that there are a lot of windows in this house. Windows that I love. Light pours in everywhere creating all kinds of beautiful spaces (except when it’s shining onto my computer screen and then it is the stupid angry sun out to get me but usually I love it.) But this also means there are no walls that are bare. All the walls have either windows or furniture against them so I am constantly looking for blank walls to shoot un-distracting pictures against. It’s a losing battle and usually I end up walking to a nearby park and shooting in the handball courts instead, which is also very cool.

That said, I was kinda wishing I felt less cluttered and had some space to call my own. I do call the kitchen my own because I am the boss in there but it’s also the kitchen. Not really somewhere I want to hang out when I’m not cooking.

I couldn’t figure out a solution. I scoured every nook and corner of the house looking for a space that I could set up my desk and make a special office just for me. There was nothing. All the rooms are packed. There is no empty corner anywhere. I just gave up and thanked Payam that at least we have an office. It really is a luxury that I don’t have to use the dining room table for work and pack up my office every meal time. I have a lot to be thankful for.

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But then Payam was wishing he had a blank wall too. He is a recruiter and makes a lot of video conference calls. It’s part of his job. He went through the same conundrum, moving his laptop from space to space trying to find a background for his calls that wouldn’t have his clients reading all the books on the bookshelf or judging us for how much alcohol we keep stored in various nooks.

So we stood and looked at our cluttered office and hemmed and hawed. There had to be a solution. We can’t just move into a loft office space downtown somewhere. (Though can you imagine how great that would be?!) We had to make this beautiful house work for us. Should we just do a giant purge and get rid of everything on the one wall that we have? I was all for that idea of course. But all the things on the office wall are Payam’s things.

Payam is a car aficionado and this wall is the one place where he can hang his car posters (that I don’t love). Believe me, I give him a hard time constantly about his car posters and if he didn’t love me so much he would probably tell me to get my things and go find someone else’s house to rearrange. But he does love me. And I love him so I think I can let him leave his car things up and his Barcelona soccer scarf and his karate black belt fake nunchucks hanging next to his African masks and beaded necklaces from Hawaii….etc etc. You get the idea. It’s a very Payam wall and I’ve Brenda-ed up the rest the house enough. I need to let it be.

Yet there had to be a solution. Like that time I lived in a mobile home out in the sticks and I didn’t know where to put my office so I just divided the living room in half and even though it was shocking and weird it totally worked and I had the most awesome living room/office ever. Remember that?

So we divided the office in half! Dun! Dun Duhun!!!!

Payam put his desk in the middle of the room against my big expedit bookcase. We put all our plants on the dividing wall bookcase to create kind of a privacy wall between us. I left my desk where it was. We moved the collaboration table that was in the middle of the room, pretty much collecting junk, to my side where it has now become my art table which is pretty much what it was anyway. Now I am in charge of the junk collection and I’m much better at it so that makes me immensely happy.

Payam positioned his desk so that his computer camera points to the one point on the wall that is not covered with car memorabilia and he even has more room to move his chair around and relax a bit without butting up against the collaboration table.

I realize you are probably lost by now because my descriptions must seem terribly confusing but the bottom line is we are together but we each have our own space. I don’t have a blank photo wall but I do now have this big giant space that is all mine!!  I love it.

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Awwww. Home sweet office. Can you believe that stiff old wooden chair never bothers me? It creaks a little but I’m pretty comfortable in it most of the time. Payam offered to buy me a fancy ergonomic chair at Costco yesterday but I passed because it wasn’t cool looking. If they could make one in orange I might think about it. But this old chair that I bought at a garage sale ages ago at the beach and then my Grandpa so kindly fixed for me is sentimental and I think I’ll keep it forever.

I was going to mention my new day planner, that pink book in the top photos that says, “I Am Very Busy.” What a silly book right?  It comes with stickers and prompts like “dress up like a zombie and go out to dinner” and “National Taco Day” etc.. all written in funky writing. I fell for the fun-silliness hook line and sinker. I’ve never been a planner type, I like seeing the whole month at a glance but I do keep a daily list. Well guess what? I started keeping my daily lists inside my planner! What a break-through!!! Now I get what planners are for! You can write down things to come and things that have passed, like a journal and a list all in one!!!  Crazy.

Anyway, it’s really cool and everyone should go rush out and get one though I don’t recommend the “I am very busy” one it mocks me when I am not very busy and I feel like a big fat fake.  I also feel a little bit silly putting heart stickers on date night and coffee cup stickers on National Coffee Day…except maybe I do like that a little bit. Part of me will always love stickers, even when I’m eighty.office-tour-4

Lucy clearly agrees that I am not very busy.

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What else is going on in pet-land? I haven’t updated you on the puppies for about a minute.

Well, there was the peanut butter incident yesterday. As you know we go through peanut butter in our house. Bug and I alone can go through a giant jumbo size jar of peanut butter in about three months, maybe four. Add in some dogs who love kongs and it goes even faster. Yesterday when I realized that there wasn’t any more scraping to be done to get any more peanut butter out of the plastic jar I decided I’d let Cody have a go at it. He approved of that motion heartily.

I can haz peanut butter? 

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But then Whiskey was sad and jealous so I had to give him a chance at the jar and hold Cody back by his collar. Whiskey was very happy and very growly and protective of the jar. He got most of it out with his very long snap-chat filter tongue. It was a great thirty minutes of dog fun.

Aren’t slow news days great?