It's A Living

 Yes, look! I'm alive. Alive and....blogging. 

Apologies for being gone for so long, and without any warning. That certainly wasn't intentional.

A quick catch-up: So, the biggest new thing is that I got a job that I started back in mid-January. A real honest-to-god job with a paycheck and everything.  On paper, it's a perfect gig for this time in my life: a part-time library aid within the same school district as my kids, which means I get to enjoy the same holidays, breaks, and school calendar as they do. (Like right now, we're all on spring break.) Plus, I get to work with books and recommend them to kids and read aloud to the kids and re-visit the days when I was five years old and played "library" with my books. 

In reality...there is no perfect job. We'll leave it at that. (But it's still close, and I'm  pretty jazzed that I got it, no small feat in the competition to score a good district job around here.)

In other news, things have been pretty status quo  in terms of me still feeling fairly housebound and craving some change. (Because, y'know, my first job in a dozen years doesn't count.)  No major adventures or road trips or vacations lately. 

However: last week, the husband and I escaped for a quickie overnight stay to downtown L.A., to see Kraftwerk in concert. It was a little pathetic how excited I was to be in THE CITY! ANY CITY! and away from the 'burbs and our extremely kid-centric community. Our getaway was much too short but it was excellent, as was the concert.  I admit that I'm not the huge fan of electronic music that my husband is, but it was still thrilling to see those old iconic Germans up there on stage. (And though I may have nodded off a few times, in my defense, the concert didn't even start until 10:30. And also: Kraftwerk.)  
We stayed at the Westin Bonaventure, which I thought was sort of funny, just because the glass building is such an old icon itself.  Does anyone but me remember the early '80s sitcom "It's A Living"? It starred Ann Jillian and featured a group of cocktail waitresses who worked in a bar at the top of the Bonaventure. I kept thinking of that, and hearing the theme song in my head.
The Westin Bonaventure was the strangest hotel I can remember staying in recent memory. It feels very much like an airport, what with all the escalators, the lounge areas, and the random food court options.  On the other hand, the privately run brewery restaurant inside the hotel was really good. Best Caesar salad I've had in ages.

And the glass-elevators that run on the outside of the towers were still a hoot.  
So that's it for now. We actually have some minor travelling plans later this spring break, so I'll have something else to share soon.

Oh! And this: I recently deleted my Facebook page for the blog, so if that's how you've been receiving updates, I guess you won't see this. My reasons weren't that complicated, it just didn't feel right anymore.  But I am totes still on Instagram and you still follow me there. 

I am, and shall remain, your @readingnest1

A Hike for the New Year

 Apologies for my last (long) downer of a post. Actually, I don't consider what I wrote  depressing or negative -- just a bit intense. As things can get when thinking and writing about mortality and the kind of fears that grip you in the deep middle of the night, listening to those sirens. (And actually, we have a brand spanking new hospital in town that opened just a couple of miles from my house, so that's not just a metaphor.)

But, onward! I'm glad to have 2013 and its strange last quarter behind me, and am looking forward to a lot of new plans, routines, and adventures in 2014. For one: I got a job! That I really wanted! It's part-time and allows me to work in a school library, with books. And still write in the mornings. And still have summers and school holidays free. I'm excited. This will definitely be a change in my routines, and that's a good thing.

******

On the first day of the new year, I roused my family from our holiday stupor (we didn't go out on New Year's, but we did stay up past midnight) and got us all out of the house for a hike.

This is the same way we entered in the new year last January, too. You can see pics from that hike here.

This year, we headed a bit north to the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Preserve. It's only about 20 minutes north from us, plus a few minutes to climb west and into the foothills.

It was obvious that a whole lot of other people had my same idea, as it was busy, even in the mid-afternoon. 

I was so glad to be out in the open air, taking in the vistas and just feeling a part of the larger world.  Here are some photos of our day out, all taken with  my sucky camera phone.







The building you see is an old adobe, supposedly the oldest structure built in Riverside County, back when this area was settled by ranchers and cowboys.  The tree is  a big old oak that needed a hug. At least, that's what my Tucker said, and then he ran up and hugged it. 

I'm not sure what it is about the light, the sky, the long shadows, but these photos feel very quintessentially "Southern California winter" to me.  It's been a very mild and dry winter, a statement that probably makes you want to smack me upside the head if you live anywhere east of Arizona.  Sorry, Polar Vortex survivors.

But I do wish for some gray skies and a good dose or two of rain before the winter is done.

And this time, I AM speaking purely metaphorically.

Back soon.

Whassup

Hey there.  Sorry I haven't been around the blog much, but I've been here -- here on the computer, in my house, in the midst of life -- all the while.  In fact, I figured out that the root of my low-grade depression from my previous post is exactly what I've just described  -- a string of days that have turned into weeks of daily routine, of not travelling anywhere beyond my usual rat-maze of surface streets -- to schools and the soccer fields and Target and etc.  I'm in need of a good road trip, or hell, just a day trip to get out of town and away from the house.  My favorite thing to talk about on the blog is our little getaways, and not having many of those in the last half of this year has got me down.

I've been trying to embrace the grind of routine by writing a little every day.  November is "NaNoWRiMo," for a lot of bloggers, writers and would-be writers, where you commit to writing the draft of a book within the 30 days of the month.  A woman from my neighborhood who's published a few books of Christian romance came up to me on the soccer fields at the start of the month to excitedly inquire if I too was doing NANOWRIMO!!!! (bold & exclamation points, because that's how she said it). And I replied, "ummm...what? Ohh...nah.  No, I'm not into that..."  That's me, Mrs. Enthusiasm.

So while I have no illusions of being disciplined enough to complete a draft of my own book this month, I HAVE been trying again to sit down and write a bit -- a little teeny, tiny bit -- every day. (Um, except today. Because the time to write eats up the time to blog, and vice versa.)  I think it was Anne Lamott who said that even writing a sentence a day is still something, is still moving in the right direction. So I've been creeping along in the right direction, ever so slowly.  On the up side, I've written a handful of sentences that are shiny and glittery and illuminating, and that's a good thing.

Another thing I've embraced lately is Instagram...I just dig it.  And though I'm too flaky to commit to writing thousands of words this month, I CAN handle taking a photo every day in the Trekaroo IG challenge. Trekaroo is a family travel site with all kinds of reviews and activity suggestions, and though they're a big site, they feel small and down-to-earth. So even though I haven't been much of anywhere this month, I've been doing their themed-photo-a-day hook up (Link up? IG-up?).

I also dig IG because it feels like connection, like micro-blogging, without all of the effort of writing a full-blown post.  And the stalker-ish side of me enjoys seeing what some of my favorite bloggers and artists are up to in their daily lives, too.

Here's a few of my recent Instagram snaps that were part of the Trekaroo challenge:

Day 4: Sunset (as reflected in a mirror above my bathtub):

Day 6: Brown (the furniture and old bakelite radio at the top of my stairs):

 And just yesterday, Day 14: Something New (the blue paint in our guestroom):
(Remember my guest room/playroom makeover that I hoped to complete for the the One Room Challenge link up in October? Yeah. That didn't happen, but I do hope to have it mostly done by the time we have some Thanksgiving guests.)

Notice a theme with all these photos? They're all taken inside my house, as are just about every other one of my IG pics from this month.  I wasn't kidding when I say I've been kind of a hermit these days and stuck in a rut.  Maybe that why I missed Day 12: "The Best Part of My Day," because, well...? One can only take so many shots of yellow legal pads and coffee cups and books.

SO. To everything there is a reason, and a season, and a purpose, and turn, turn, turn, the page I will. The holidays are coming up quick, and Tucker's 9th birthday, and my own next month and things are happening, people, is what I'm saying. Or at least they will be? Soon? Ish?

Let's hope.  Until then, you can see more filtered-out glimpses into my daily grind by  following along with me at Readingnest1.

Back soon. 

Never Have I Been A Blue Calm Sea

I've been in a really weird and not-fun place for several weeks now.  I can't say quite why, as I don't know myself.

Certainly, I'm lacking in inspiration and creativity, but also -- interest and enthusiasm and optimism, too.  Maybe it's just a bad case of the late Indian summer blahs.

So much to say, and yet no inclination to try and articulate, to spell it out. For you or for me.

A few weeks back, on my other Facebook account (because I have two: one for my secret writer/blogger self, and another for my mom/family self, and that division says volumes about the gulfs and gaps I find so hard to bridge and stitch together in my real life), anyway, on my writerly account, someone was interviewing a B-list woman writer, and asked a question about happiness. And the woman writer said (to paraphrase) "well, I count happiness as being a woman in good health, with family members in good health, who has the time and money and resources to complain about some trivial shit in her day."

She didn't say "trivial shit," but that's what she meant.  By her definition, I am a very happy, happy woman indeed.

And that's why I ain't got much to say.  Because I feel -- in so many area, in a lot of ways -- pretty unhappy.  But it's almost in bad taste to discuss what's nothing more than low-grade ennui.  I can't even call it depression.  Let's just call it a failure of optimism, at this point.

I've always wanted the blog to be a place where I share my loves, my secret self, the things I hold most dear. Instead, too often I treat it like my Facebook page, the one where I share pics of the kids and say pithy things about nothing much at all and smile and put only the best stuff out there. (Because if I've learned anything this last decade in Far Suburbia, it's that one must put her Best Face Forward everyday, lest one be sent to the ranks of the Weird. Much like high school, come to think of it...)

Anyway. Here's something I love. A lot. I grew up pretty obsessed with Stevie Nicks. I mean, I looooved her. I wanted to be her.  Earlier, there had been Judy Garland and Julie Andrews and then Linda Ronstadt, but by the time I was in eighth grade, it was Stevie all the way.

In my wild and dysfunctional childhood, I sought out the occult and Ouija boards and all the paranormal stuff that made up the weekly segments of "In Search Of..." Gypsies and palm readers and crystal balls, oh my.  I wanted answers. I wanted reasons. I wanted to feel in control of days and decisions that were anything but under my control.
Some days, I feel I haven't changed much at all in thirty years. I haven't listened to Stevie much in the last twenty years. But every once in a while, I'll watch something of hers, or catch something on the radio, and it will trigger those days, when she represented all I wished to be: a twirling white witch, mystical and beautiful and blonde and able to rise, rise, above them all.  Wouldn't you love to love her?
I spent untold hours staring at the photos from her Belladonna album. 

This week, I remembered this obscure Stevie song, "Storms," from the Fleetwood Mac album Tusk.  It's slow and quiet and a bit passive about a whole lot of buried emotions.  Maybe that's why it speaks to me again, in this odd and empty and changing season. The video doesn't feature Nicks, but a changing montage of nature and mountain scenes that complement the mood.



I'd like to leave you with something warm
But never have I been a blue calm sea
I have always been a storm.
 

This is my Jam for the week. 

The Playroom Must Go!: Week 2


 
Welcome back to Week 2 of the One Room Challenge, hosted by the Calling It Home blog. Quick recap from Week 1: I'm re-imagining our small downstairs playroom/sometime guest room  into primarily a guestroom, while still keeping the kid's computer area and games in the space. Here's a Before:
Confession: I haven't done much at all with the playroom in the last week. Not unless you count my little internal shudder that happens each time I glance inside.  But I do have a tiny bit of progress to show you from the previous week.

I'm at the not-fun stage, where I'm organizing and de-cluttering and making messy piles of "stay," "donate," and "figure out WTH to do with this thing." And piles don't look very pretty or glamourous, either in person or on my blog.

Well.  Part of this mess you see on the floor here:
 is due to the fact that I've successfully purged out the pressboard "rustic" wardrobe from Ikea. This piece is leaving, and it's just about ready for me to create a listing on Craigslist and bid it farewell.
Empty wardrobe:
I haven't been as productive in purging out the desk sitting beside the wardrobe. The desk drawers are chock full of both my things and kids' stuff. It's actually my own stuff that's harder to figure out (most of the kid's stuff can be chucked).

So that's where things stand as of this week.  But enough of ugly Before.  Let's see the vibe and direction I have planned for the room.

I like this small room below, especially because the lay-out mimics that of my own space. (Except it's still bigger than my tiny room.)
Design by Erika Ward, via My Colortopia

I plan on painting the large wall where the wardrobe/desk area is now a similar dark color. I'm picturing a nice true navy blue though, not the blue above that tilts a good bit toward violet.

And I also plan on placing the bed in the same location as above. (I don't know yet whether I'll try for some kind of faux-headboard, or just use some art above the bed.)

In this little recessed nook where the bed is now:
I plan on putting a console desk for the computer monitor. It's not very wide though (just as wide as a queen bed, in fact) but I hope to find something white and clean-lined, similar to this one from Ikea:
This is the Besta Burs desk, which is 70" wide and therefore won't fit in the nook. But you get the idea of what I'm after here.  (I could also put the desk on the wall where the Expedite system is now, swap that into the nook area, and flip it up to use vertically.)

Here are a few other shots of a room that I really love. It's a lounging area for a teen girl, but mostly I just love the clean white with pops of intense color, and the fun vibe:
Photo of K. Mathiesen Brown's design via House of Turquoise
 Photo of K. Mathiesen Brown's design via House of Turquoise
 Photo of K. Mathiesen Brown's design via House of Turquoise

(All of the above 4 inspiration rooms can be found on my Pinterest board, "Tween Room Ideas." )

Obviously, with a navy blue wall, my guestroom isn't going to be as white and bright. It's the overall playful vibe that's my inspiration.  (And the other walls are going to be re-painted in a brighter, semi-gloss white, to replace both the flat white paint & the pastel green walls.)  In keeping with the inspiration rooms, here are a couple of fun pillows that I've already purchased for the bed:
 The sequins on the "Famous" pillow are just printed on, which I love: no picking off sequins by bored little hands.  And the shiny patent-orange pillow is just fun, and I think it'll  pop like crazy against the navy wall. (And both were bought at HomeGoods.)

So that's my vision, and you've seen the reality...now it's my job to make it all come together.  Back next week to hopefully show some further progress! Thanks for coming by.

The Play Room Must Go!

And so we find ourselves yet again in my guest room-slash-playroom. That room that rarely houses guests, and rarely gets "played" in by my kids (unless you count Minecraft, on the computer).

I first wrote about cleaning it up, here in this post.
Above is what it looked like all freshly purged of (that round) of kids toys, back when we still used the small orange Ikea futon for guests.

And then I showed you how we removed the aging futon and put our too-soft for the master bedroom, but fine-for-guests mattress into the room, earlier this year in this post.
Which as you can see, hogs up most of the space in this small room. (Although we did finally get the box springs up off the floor with some bed rails.)

We have 4 bedrooms upstairs in our house, which works perfectly for us: the master, one for the girl, one for the boy, and an office for the Husband, who works from home and is a bit of a mad-scientist/techie geek (i.e., his office is a mess of computers and parts and wires and mother boards and isn't fit for guest traffic).

And then we have this funny little angled room downstairs, right by the front door, and one of the first things you see when you come into our home.
I've been to other houses in our neighborhood with our same floor plan, and the builder had intended for this to be an open "den" small office area.  The wall that you see below, with the map, is usually opened up as a great big open window, often with plantation shutters.
But the family who lived here before us had more kids, and so they closed up the open window (in a rather rough job) to use this as their eldest girl's bedroom. They also framed out the doorway and installed double-doors, as again the original intent was for this "den" area to be open. 

People!! I am so OVER this room, and the way is does, or does NOT function in my house. 

I am taking on the challenge of emptying out most of the toys and furniture, and restoring it to function primarily as a guest room. I'll continue to store some games and books in the Expedit system, but I no longer see it as a "play room." I'm keeping the kids computer in here, too, as this is where they play Minecraft and noodle on the shared computer -- but its not where they do homework.

And I wanna get all this  done by the end of the month, which is why I'm joining up with the blog "Calling It Home's"  One Room Challenge Linking Party during the month of October.

Here's what I'm getting rid of:
 Both of these big pieces, the Ikea "rustic" wardrobe, and the Ikea "secretary" type desk, are going.  The wardrobe is full of games and craft supplies, with a rail to hang guest's clothes.  The desk drawers (there are 4) are full of memories and journals and innumerable broken pens, receipts and ticket stubs.

This wall o' fun also needs to get dealt with: 
Lily has agreed to sell her Fisher Price dollhouse, so that's going, too. 

I'm also changing out the pale green paint and most of the artwork. I would LOVE to explore the idea of bashing out that faux-window seat. It has a bullnose lip, is too narrow to actually serve as a window seat, and is totally useless, except to look "decorative." And eat up precious space.

In the meantime, if you're new here from the link party, I'd hate for you to think my whole house is also just as cluttered and awkward and uninspired. So here's a recent DIY project I completed with the Malm dresser in our entryway:
 Yay for Overlays! Yay for gold spray paint!
Come back week, and I'll share my inspiration photos of what I'd like the new guest room to feel like, plus a couple of fun pillows that I've already bought for the bed.  
 In the meantime, it's cleaning and purging over here (oh, and Halloween decor for the rest of the house.)

The fun never ends.


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