New Knobs

Many years ago, before my Godmother Becky passed away, she asked me what I wanted from her house. I was in my early twenties at the time, and wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I knew why she was asking, it was the last time I’d likely see her. I distinctly remember looking around her beautiful minimalist house in Pittsburg, Texas โ€“ unsure of whether to name some little knick-nack or something larger. I knew I wanted to have pieces of her life to stay with me, but wasn’t sure what was appropriate. I smiled and told her that I’d love to have her copy of The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I hated reading that book in high school whereas it was one of her favorites. We had an animated discussion about it some time prior โ€“ and although I’ll probably never enjoy actually reading that book, I smile every time I see our copies on my bookshelf.

Then Becky asked what else I wanted. Hmmmm, so the book was too small. I walked through her house and told her that I’d love to one day have one of her beautiful vintage writing desks. One belonged to her husband Dan’s mother, one belonged to Becky’s father, and I cannot remember who the third desk belong to.

Time passed, as did Becky. Pieces of hers show up throughout our house: The Old Man and The Sea is on a bookshelf, some of her jewelry is in my nightstand, her silk scarves fill my scarf drawer. There are other things, a Jacques Pepin cookbook, a grocery basket, and various other odds and ends. I assumed that perhaps the writing desk was too big an ask.

When her husband put their house on the market this past year, my parents went down to Texas to spend their last long weekend in the house. I know it was really difficult for my mom as she spent so much time there, particularly towards the end of Becky’s life. And even the times that we visited that house after she had passed away, everyone felt a sense of her calm presence the moment they walked in the door. To us, that house gave her life. On their way back home I got a phone call from my mom, she asked if one of us would be home later that evening, she had a desk to drop off at our house. My mom had remembered that Becky wanted me to have one of her writing desks and made sure that she wasn’t leaving Texas without one for me.

This is Becky’s father’s writing desk, patented in the early 1900s. It lives in our living room with a wooden try of knick-nacks on top. You might recognize the top of it from some of my stationery photoshoots ๐Ÿ™‚

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The desk is in fantastic condition with the exception of the knobs. Somewhere along the line (before it was mine) one of them lost their metallic piece. This made them appear mismatched and overall they did nothing to add any further visual interest to the desk.

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So on my lunch break today I headed over to Anthropologie to see if they had any interesting knobs for sale. And by if, I really mean I knew they’d have some fantastic knobs. After studying each of the knobs in their large selection I’d narrowed it down to 4. From there I noticed that I was really drawn to the knobs that looked a little older (with the antique metal) and less crafty, so I narrowed it down to 2.

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Iย texted Mike to ask which one he preferred (he’s got great taste and pretty much always has an opinion) and he surprised me with a neutral response. So I texted my mom, figuring that she has a vested in this desk and, like Mike, always has an opinion. She told me she liked both of them. This was of no help. So I bought both to bring home and try on the desk.

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I was actually a little surprised by the results. I expected to either still be wishy washy over the two knobs or to like the more traditional round knob (I picked up the long ivory colored knob more as a wild card). I really, really preferred the long ivory colored knob.

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Iย think that they’re understated and a little unexpected.

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Don’t mind all of the stuff on the coffee table, I was photographing stationery this past weekend and need to reshoot some of what I shot so I left everything out.

That was such an easy upgrade. Unfortunately there are only two other places in our house where knobs show up (the hutch in the dining room โ€“ which is already donning an Anthropologie knob โ€“ and the vanity in the bathroom โ€“ which Mike and I don’t agree on whether or not it needs its knobs changed out… * cough * yes * cough *). While there aren’t a lot of knobs in our house… there are a lot of handles/pulls… #ohthepossibilities

What I’d like to do now is to make the writing desk a stationery station of sorts, and maybe even add a chair over there. I’d like to populate the drawer with our address stamps, lined envelopes, our monogram stamp, note cards, postage stamps, our address book and a nice pen or two. I think it would make it easier for our personal correspondence to not live all over my office and be a nice way to pay homage to the original purpose of that desk.

Life After Dark

I used to sleep through the night. Nary a bathroom trip until morning. The only time I’d wake up in the wee hours of the morning would be if I had pizza for dinner – then I’d need to drink a glass of water before returning to bed.

Now I’m impressed if I make it through the night without 1) needing to visit the bathroom 2) needing to turn the AC lower 3) needing to get a glass of water. Most nights it’s at least one of those things, some nights it’s all three (like right now). Just a trip to the bathroom and I can fall right back to sleep, but if there’s a glass of water or adjusting the thermostat involved in my nightly wake up, sleep doesn’t come back as quick.

I suppose this is my body’s way of making me used to only getting an interrupted night’s sleep after the baby comes. But what about Mike? Did his body not get the memo? He sleeps right through my getting in and out of bed, the glow of my phone if I can’t get back to sleep right away, the tapping of the keys on my phone if I’m typing anything.
So if you happen to find yourself also awake after midnight, post a witty Facebook status or something fun on instagram – it’ll give me something to look at, since as I get older so does everyone else and the amount of late night posts to social media has dropped significantly.

Sleep tight!

Lazy Days of Summer

We’ve now hit the worst time of year to live in the Chicagoland area: the heat of summer. Yes, February isn’t fun either, but as I always say, “you can always put more clothing on, but you can’t keep taking your clothes off.” I remind myself of this when I’m grumbling about being done with winter in February and March.

Anywho, this week is the first of what will be many week long heat waves with temperatures in the 90s and rising during July and August (last summer there were no week long heat waves, it was 3 months straight of this). And although I pride myself in being a hearty walking commuter, able to withstand the rain, heat and winter wind (the heat being my least favorite), I must confess to allowing Hans to be an excuse to reduce my walking mileage dramatically while the temps are so high.

On a typical day, the walking portion of my commute totals out to 4 miles. At least a few days a week I walk the extra 0.7 miles to a further train station to get some extra mileage. There are days that I run errands during my lunch hour where I get 7-8 miles in. And there is yesterday and the rest of this week where I won’t make it past 0.8 miles each day. It’s. Just. Too. Hot. Even the 0.8 mile walk to the train station in the morning is uncomfortable – by the time I’m actually in the city it’s already in the 80s and I’m in line to catch a bus to (and from) my office.

Mike does much better in the heat. As long as the forecast is dry he rides his motorcycle to work, loving the wind in his face… until he gets stopped at a light and roasts (for safety he rides completely covered up). He claims to miss the draught and weather of last summer (more chances to ride) and I tell him not to say such terrible things, if Chicagoland was that hot every summer we mine-as-well move to the South (I’m a Southerner at heart – just look at my magazine subscriptions).

Stay cool wherever you are (unless you’re my family in Florida – you chose this haha).

Monet & Hans

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On a typical visit to my parent’s house, I inevitably end up holding Monet the cat. Just now, while Monet was wiggling around in my arms (he’s got a limited attention span for affection) I asked my mom how much he weighed. She said currently between 8.5 and 9 pounds. As Monet jumped down I did a quick assessment as to his length and concluded that when Hans is born he’ll be roughly the size and weight of the cat. And with the heartburn that I’ve been having, the baby might be as hairy as the cat too.

Sweet 16 (Weeks)

Just a quick update on the baby front โ€“ we’re almost done with the 16th week and just got back from a doctors appointment. It was just a quick checkup for my weight, blood pressure and the baby’s heartbeat. Mike came to the appointment as well since it was in the morning and Mike didn’t have to be at work at any set time today. Everything is where the doctor wants it to be, so no news is good news. In terms of symptoms, I’m back to being awake/having my normal energy level, so that’s very exciting. Yes, exciting. Have little or no energy to get out of bed and sleeping away my weekends/getting really tired at work/falling asleep on the train was getting really old. I count myself lucky for not having morning sickness, but the no energy thing was not good for my freelance business during the spring wedding season.

In 4 more weeks Mike and I will go back to the doctor for an ultrasound where the doctor will attempt a guess at the baby’s gender. Pending on how sure she’s feeling is how much stock we’ll put into the results and how big a deal we’ll make of it. If the doctor isn’t feeling too sure on the results then we wouldn’t want to get everyone on the baby girl train, obtain lots of pink things, only to deliver a boy or vice versa.

That’s about all that we’ve got to report for the time being ๐Ÿ™‚

Weekend Warriors

The last of my end of week/weekend to-do list was crossed off just as June ended. At first glance (and second, and third) my list was daunting. After spending all of my mental energy early last week on getting the last of the day-of paper needs out the door for my last two spring weddings (okay, June is summertime, but I still considered them spring weddings) I needed to turn most of my end of week/weekend focus towards getting invitations wrapped up for two September weddings. Thanks to Mike and my friend Nichole, we were able to get some of the heavy lifting (cutting ribbon, tying 120 bows and putting the invitations together) out of the way on Thursday night. Nichole came back for round 2 Friday evening (she must be a glutton for punishment) and we cut out 100 metallic purple envelope liners for another wedding.ย Mike had gigs with his band Get Well Cards on both Friday and Saturday night so he missed out on the envelope liner cutting action.

Saturday morning I had 20 stamps to package so I decided to make the same breakfast that I made Mike on our first Saturday Hot Breakfast: bacon/egg cups. I figured that they were easy to make the first time and that since they have to bake for 30 minutes, that would give me more time with the packaging of stamps before Mike woke up. I decided to add cut up sun-dried tomato sausage to the cups as well. While the packaging got done โ€“ but I couldn’t say the same for breakfast when it came out of the oven. Mike was awake by this time and saw me trying with little success to get the bacon/egg/sausage cups out of the muffin tin (I swear they practically fell out the first time I made them!). Once released from their chambers we took one look at the lower part of the bacon and noticed that it was not cooked. Being pregnant (and a human being) uncooked bacon was not an option. Eventually the bacon cooked enough and we were able to eat breakfast โ€“ but it certainly wasn’t as pretty as the first time I made that particular recipe…

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You can see the comparison between the first time that I made this recipe (left) and how Saturday’s version turned out (right)

After a, er, hearty breakfast we needed to get ready for our day of errands. This included taking passport photos (yay for having a good camera, a white fridge and photoshop to take out the handle/label from the photo). Mike looks the same as he always does in ID photos โ€“ no joke, his face never changes. I decided not to smile (I’m convinced that my face has rounded out since becoming pregnant which is highlighted when I smile in photos and cannot turn my head just slightly) since I’m going to have to live with this photo for the next 10 years.

Passport

Since Mike was getting a passport for the first time, he needed to bring his birth certificate with him to the Post Office, which meant that we needed to swing by his parents house to obtain that. We got to the post office just in time before a long line formed (I love it when that happens) and were out relatively quickly, Mike just had to take a quick oath and I needed to drop of the 20 packages from earlier (thanks to prepaid shipping labels that took about 20 seconds verses the 30 minutes it would have taken otherwise).

Next stop was Home Depot. The impending rain (that never actually happened over by our house) kept Mike from painting the garage on Saturday โ€“ but that wasn’t the end of the world since we still needed to buy the paint… and the hose for the air compressor… and the painting attachment. Over $200 later (I swear you cannot leave Home Depot without spending at least $175) we were back on the road for a quick stop to Jewel and then onto my parent’s house to pick up a package that I’d had shipped there. We got home with enough time to eat lunch while watching an episode of the West Wing (we’re in Season 6) before heading out to Mike’s uncle and aunt’s house for a birthday party for his grandmother. After a day on the go, I finally got to plant myself in one spot and spend an enjoyable evening mingling with Mike’s extended family โ€“ but Mike was only able to stay for a couple hours before he was off again to the second Get Well Cards gig.

While Mike played basketball on Sunday morning, I went to hang out with my mom while she scrapbooked and I took those 100 envelope liners from Friday, stamped them by hand with two different stamps and then adhered them to the envelopes that they’d be living in. That took up the entire morning. By the time I got back home it was time to photograph some stationery for both Studio255 and Peas & Thank You Paperie.

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Wedding invitation suite, mailed in tins instead of envelopes, tied with a loose-weave Italian ribbon, featuring a double Z-fold invitation and 4 additional cards

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Close-up of wedding invitation. Prop is a pocket watch โ€“ I assume that it was Mike’s grandfather’s.

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RSVP post card front and back. Prop is that same pocket watch, but turned over.

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All interior cards found inside the tin along with the ribbon that ties them all together.

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Baby shower invitation with a stamped, lined envelope

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Minimal birth announcement with a matching lined kraft paper envelope. Prop is loos-weave Italian ribbon.

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Gender neutral birth announcement with lined white envelope. Color on announcement can be switched out.

Meanwhile, while I was photographing stationery, Mike was outside starting to paint the garage. He’s gathered some key learnings, the biggest of which is that the wind is not your friend when you’re using an air compressor to paint outside. Although we had a gorgeous sunny, mildly warm Sunday โ€“ there was just enough wind to keep Mike from being able to use the spray gun’s full capability. This meant that he had to spray very close to the garage with a thin paint stream so that the paint wouldn’t blow away. So currently our the parts of our garage that got painted look more graffitied than finished. Looks like we’ll need another coat or two. I’d post photos, but I think Mike would prefer that you view the final product rather than the current state that the garage is in. In the meantime, here are some images of the air compressor that I got him for his birthday and the spray guns at Home Depot.
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The weekend ended with Mike at work doing a set strike and myself attempting to make it look less like a tornado tore through our house (it tends to get that way when I’m assembling stationery and photographing it).