Grass Valley, The Buddha Embiggerment Project and other News…

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Another month goes by and I have been busy! Time to report!

My friend, Teri, and I flew up to Grass Valley (via Sacramento) last week and visited my friend and fairy godmother, Susan. It was a business trip disguised as a girl’s getaway which means we visited the spa, sipped wine and tea, ate at all the good restaurants, shopped in groovy downtown shops and talked our heads off deep into the night. I think we got about four hours worth of work done but those were concentrated hours!!!  And a baby business was born so there’s that! I’m sure I’ll share more on that later. Maybe more later than sooner but things are always cooking around here.

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Susan took us to the Ananda Gardens in Nevada City to see the 15,000 tulips they planted this year.  Fifteen thousand bulbs!!! Not all of them came up because of the crazy rains we had this year and other challenges but they were AMAZING. Like they always are.

Ananda is a meditational retreat seeped in spirituality which has been kind of a theme with me lately, even though I do not subscribe to woo-woo in general (being raised the way I was).  I do, however, connect deeply with the thousands of happy-faced tulips covering the terraces and hillsides and that powerful sense of peace and quiet you feel when you stand on the edge of  a vast ravine. The sheer compounding of atmosphere in a space like that is overwhelming and beautiful.  It demands respect and reverence.

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We tripped around downtown, tucking into shops for trinkets to bring back to our girls. I swear every shop in Nevada City has a yoga studio sound track playing and crystals dangling in the windows, catching rainbows. It’s not a bad mental state to be in. I wish Southern California could get a little more of it’s woo woo on sometimes and a little less of it’s stress and traffic and real housewifery. It’s very beautiful there and everyone seems to be an artist or a connoisseur of something delightful. I could definitely see myself living there someday.

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Speaking of woo woo… I’ve made some progress on the embiggerment of the Rockin’ Buddha painting. I busted it out a few weekends ago and now only have the details left. It was a blast to paint. I got lost in the movements and swirls of the paint and kind of forgot what I was painting. I might put a light wash over it to bring down the garishness of the colors. It just feels a little loud for our living room. I didn’t mean to make such a big Buddhist statement with it. I was just trying to replace the artwork Payam already had there.

Sadly, I think some of my relatives (and friends) who are devout Christians have found this painting offensive which I never meant it to be. It doesn’t feel that way to me, even though I was raised to believe that any idol or graven image was a portal for Satan to come into my life and wreck havoc. And here I am painting a giant one for my living room!!

I have mixed feelings about it. I may or may not keep the giant Buddha in the living room. Right now (s*)he feels very happy and pleasant, like she’s rocking out to The Weekend and she wants you to come stay awhile and stop being so afraid that bad things are going to happen.

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In other news, Payam has been rocking at the woodworking. He’s been making some beautiful things!  He’s also had some health issues and is on blood thinners right now which sends me into a deep state of fear every time I hear him fire up his bandsaw. I’m sure you can imagine all my daymares.payams-striped-coasters

Thankfully, he has not cut himself and he humors me by wearing gloves, big sturdy construction worker boots and being very very very careful all the time. But still I am a mess worrying about this.

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We’ve been tightening up his branding which I LOVE. He has a logo that is now on a branding iron and he can brand all of his wood pieces with a searing hot logo. It’s very cool but also difficult to get just right so you can imagine the carefulness it takes to brand a cutting board that you spend hours and hours working on and is made from expensive materials. No pressure! OR more accurately, JUST THE RIGHT PRESSURE! Just right. Then we wrap it all up in salvaged coffee bean bags I found and ship them off to customers. It’s been fun!

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What have I been making? I’ve been making lots of stuff. Mostly our house has been full of pink boxes, ribbon and pretty silk flowers for this Mother’s Day jewelry box craft we did for alphamom.com. (Do click through and watch the movie, I worked hard on it!) It’s funny because I needed a jewelry box which is what prompted this craft and now I have about five. Payam also bought me one from a thrift store that he is refinishing. (It’s really cool and has yellow velvet from the 70’s which I LOVE.)  Now I just need another dresser to display them on! I’m not complaining though.

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And, and, AND!!! Big news alert!!!  WE ARE GOING TO LONDON AND WALES this coming fall. With the kids! Can you believe it!? Seriously, making friends with a travel agent was my best decision ever.  Of course, the next trip I plan needs to be to the country of Payoffyourcreditcards but I am really happy that we can have these experiences and especially with the kids. I love travel. I am happiest when I am planning a trip or a party! Bring on the adventure!

Speaking of parties… you knew I was going there! Joon is having a Harry Potter-themed birthday party in a few weeks and I am in my favorite mad-manic party-planning mode. I love the challenge of combining a pool party with an unlikely theme like Harry Potter. I’m thinking terry cloth robes made from long burgundy towels I find somewhere cheap like Walmart, white helium balloons that look like owls, flying envelopes as a garland and of course brooms made out of pool noodles! Bring it on! Underwater Quiddich anyone?

Still Moving Along!

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Remember that desk I bought when I moved out to the sticks? Sigh.

This desk is so sentimental to me.  Besides being really cool and mid-century stylish, I bought it during such a pivotal time in my life and it was such a comfort to me. I had just left my ex and I was on my own in a scary new place.  I went from living at the beach amongst rich people (though we always lived paycheck to paycheck like true freelancers) to living in the sticks on a street lined with poor people who had no jobs and seemed like scary bad guys to me at the time. It’s funny how a little socio-economic change will open your eyes to humanity around you. I ended up making friends with a lot of those “bad guys” and I learned so many stories of heartbreak. It was life-changing and humbling.

But about the desk.

I remember I bought it for $30 from the same thrift store I bought that Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress for $12 way back in the day, the same dress that I turned around and sold for $82 on eBay (probably should have gotten more.) It was such a great dress but it always rode up on me because of my dumb hips. I found an illustration of it here.  Such a great thrift store right? It’s since closed and become something else, sorry. But I digress.

Anyway, Heather talked me into buying the desk. I forget what my hesitation was. Maybe funds, maybe the fact that it was a little messed up and dirty on the top. It was sitting in the back of a dusty old thrift store next to a sewing machine table, a bad south-western style love seat from the 80’s and a bunch of dirty looking sleeping bags and afghans. It wasn’t where you’d look for treasure, unless you’re me of course.  Probably some old person died and their kids, not knowing anything about Mid-Century modern furniture becoming all the rage again, packed it off to the nearest goodwill without anyone ever knowing what they had.

At the time I didn’t know what it was either! I thought it looked cool and had nice lines but I am no Danish furniture expert. It just goes to show you: buy what you love and sometimes your good taste will pay off! (And if it doesn’t, who cares!)  It turns out that if I refinished this desk now, I could sell it anywhere between $500-2K on eBay and Etsy! Of course I didn’t learn that until after I had listed it on Facebook Marketplace for $150 because I am that kind of business person.  I figured it was awesome that someone paid ME to take something off my hands that I didn’t want anymore.  Otherwise it would have sat in my garage for a year while I finally got around to refinishing it, photographing it and then listing it on eBay. I don’t have time for that!

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But I have to admit as the guy loaded up the desk into the back of his truck and I said goodbye to it for the last time, I got a little sad inside. Bug and I have so many memories with this desk! It will be missed.

Sigh.

If I have learned anything in my many years I have learned this: Sometimes letting go of something has just as much value as keeping it. It’s not easy though! I’ve kept pieces of furniture kicking around my apartment, annoying me with their ill-fittedness for years! Years! That couch my grandma gave me that I never really liked but was forced to take because “FREE” is a pretty persuasive color. My old dollhouse that I LOVED but never really fit in any room… That old tiny rocking chair that was passed down to me from my great grandmother’s mother and refinished just for me on my 16th birthday… It’s hard! I still have that rocking chair even though I constantly thwack my shin into it’s sharp rocker point because it’s stuck in my office and has nowhere else to go.

Things have so much perceived value.

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But so does growth.

The things you’ve suffered for are the hardest to let go. Sometimes you have to admit that holding onto them is blocking you from becoming the creative person you need to be. Whether it’s not your style and you are forever stuck in a room with crap you don’t like or it’s physical space you lack. Getting a bigger house is not the solution (my mom would beg to differ). Sometimes you have to take everything out of a room and only put back what you want in it and DEAL WITH ALL THE STUFF THAT WON’T FIT BACK IN.

Ugh.

This is a deep psychological subject that I’ve thought a lot about (coming from a long line of emotional hoarders and loving to organize so much that I’ve even considered becoming a professional organizer).  I didn’t really intend this post to be about that though.  I love writing about house stuff and I figured I’d document the ongoing office dilemma and how I came to the difficult decision to get rid of my beloved old desk.

I love a good before and after so consider this the BEFORE. Even though the before this before was actually better. What’s that saying about everything getting worse before it gets better? That’s where I’m at right now. In the worse.

The Dilemma: We have this really great office that both Payam and I work in. It’s amazing! Bright light floods in from windows on two sides. It’s kind of like a greenhouse or a sunroom it’s so full of light.  The other two sides of the office butt up to the hallway and an open kitchen. It’s pretty great visually. I love working here. However it’s not so great working here.  All the pretty light makes staring at a monitor all day very challenging—which has been a theme for me for a really long time!  I think it’s my life long mission to create the perfect working environment and COMBAT THE SUN! Evil sun.

We tried shades and I’ve rigged up shanty towns of boxes around me to block the sun but that never really worked that well. Payam got me this really cool big monitor (cause I’m 44 and my eyes are too) that I love so much that I can’t just pick up my laptop and move to a different spot away from the sun.

Then I landed a small crafty movie-making job. It hasn’t completely panned out just yet but I have been buying lighting equipment and I’ve started setting up an area to film in. And because of all this equipment and lack of space to actually film in, I realized my old beloved desk was too small and dysfunctional. I couldn’t’ turn my monitor away from the sun without it falling off the end and I didn’t really have table space to draw on or film on. I could use the nearby table but it’s a tall bistro table which required really tall lighting and really tall tripods and maybe even a ladder to shoot down from. You get the picture. (If you are still reading! I’m sorry this is going on so long.)

So that’s that. I had to let go of the desk and now I have a really long cheap Ikea desk that is about a thousand times more functional. I also have all of my old drawer crap sitting on the tall table waiting to be put away in a new drawer unit that Payam also bought me and promised to put together for me. Theme here: Payam is a very patient, loving, helpful person and great at putting together Ikea furniture. Grade A boyfriend. But you already knew that.

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Which leads me to another home-improvement project! Operation Replace all of Payam’s old art! This should be a separate post but I’ve gone on this long I figure I might as well keep going.

This is another subject that I could talk about at length. I recently uncovered a bunch of old journals in my new office switch-up and I’ve spent a little time here and there perusing them. They are great. I love that I never throw out old journals. Talk about emotional hoarding…

Recently, I have been reading an old journal from 2001 and in that journal I wrote a lot about being rejected by a friend. This friend had no idea she was rejecting me of course. She was one of those super-cool, stylish, artsy friends that I was forever in admiration of.  I kind of existed in the wake of her amazingness.  I was just thankful to be included. But because of this I never felt like she accepted me for me.  I forever felt put down and uncool in comparison to her brilliance. I’m sure none of it was intentional on her part. She was very sweet to me. I was just young and hadn’t found my own style or confidence yet. I wish I could go back and fix that but I can’t. But who knows, maybe we wouldn’t have been friends because we would have been competitive. I don’t know.

I can fix how I treat others around me now that *I* have found my own style and confidence. So this makes me sit and take note when I judge Payam and his art. How crappy is it of me to find Payam’s art not cool enough?! Payam! The man who has taken Bug and I in and supported us in so many ways both emotionally and financially. In his defense, he did buy all the art in his house in a rush from Z Gallery so that he could furnish an empty house that was about to be appraised. However, he did put thought into each piece he chose and I do respect that.

For the first year I lived here I did everything I could to not change anything. It’s his house after all and I love him so much. I’m so thankful for this happy home, how could I even?  But you know me. I love decorating houses! It’s in my blood and I think about it all day long when I should be doing other things. You can imagine how much the Z Gallery art has been bugging me.

Finally, a few weeks ago I read this article and about the same time I fell upon some line in another article (that I can’t find) that said something about good art making bad furniture look great.  Not that Payam has bad furniture. He doesn’t. He has great furniture but it sealed it for me. I finally realized that Payam will forgive me and will most likely still love me if I replace his art. In fact, he might even love me more for it. Because I am going to take each piece that he has and find what he loves about it and recreate it in a way that I like too. Is that too selfish?

Maybe I won’t be able to pull it off. I’m no fine artist. But I do know how to paint and I do have a passion for this so maybe I can try. And maybe after a few failures I’ll invest in some real art because I’m starting to realize that good art is worth sinking big bucks into.

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In the meantime, I sunk some small bucks at a thrift store on this giant canvas of bad 80’s fish art. It was probably from a doctor’s office. It cost us $20. Whoever painted it had talent but it looks like one of those paintings that you buy from an artist that cranks out 50 paintings a day. It had no emotion. Just flat and boring.

Payam and I painted it over with house paint and we had a good time doing it too! My big plan is to repaint the buddha-in-headphones painting that used to hang in the living room on top of this new big canvas. Payam even bought me a projector so I could trace it and not paint some awful out-of-perspective version of Headphone Buddha. I’ve bitten off a lot though and I’m currently taking forever to actually do it because I’m intimidated but I’m also excited. I think someday it will be a GREAT after. I hope Payam thinks so too.