After the difficulty of last week - including a chaotic travel schedule and a day to honor Pru - I was worried about the jarring experience of throwing a bachelorette party at the lake house so soon after.
I should have realized that in some ways it would be healing. A busy distraction, but also a reminder of the goodness of this life. Of good friends and the power of laughter.
I hope you're having a great Memorial Day weekend.
Personal reasons are keeping me away from the computer for most of this week, so I'm using the time to re-post some of my favorite topics from my former blog. This crafty project was originally posted at the peacoat papers in January 2009.
ALTERNATE TITLE: How I Made My GORGEOUS (Ruined) Purse Into a Passable Purse.
One of the last oh-so-intellectual reality shows I worked on shot for 32 days straight, 24 hours a day. It was, hands down, the hardest show I worked on in my television career. Not just because of the insane work schedule but...for reasons I will not list, lest I experience flashbacks and have a seizure right here at the computer.
When we were done shooting, I decided to reward myself with my very first Fancy Purse. One would think that I would go for a designer of more standing, perhaps opt for a classic goes-with-anything First Fancy Purse. And I thought about that. But I could not get this particular L.A.M.B. purse out of my mind. L.A.M.B. is designed by Gwen Stefani of No Doubt, for those of you who don't know. I decided to make my first big splurge on a handbag designed by a pop/rock star instead of going with something more traditional, doesn't that just sum it all up?
I did not regret the purchase. The thing was gorgeous. Supple tan leather and bright white suede, so dramatic! I carried it with pride all through the summer, and through the fall of my wedding. Which means I schlepped it through multiple airports and countries and indoors and outdoors and well, you all know where eight months on my arm might take you. When it came time to retire it for Winter (with full plans to bust it back out for Spring), I couldn't help but notice how FILTHY it had gotten. A couple of my better friends even, um, commented on it. (Here's the only picture I could find of me holding Fancy Purse. We were at a Gold party, do not think The Gorilla dresses like for just any night out.)
But this was not just stuff. I paid a ton of money for this purse, plus I loved it. I took it to the dry cleaners and to the shoe repair shop looking for a solution. I was met with pitiful looks and slow shaking of the head.
The shoe repair guy - to whom I bring practically everything - suggested I dye the suede a darker color. He wouldn't do it himself, mind you, because he was afraid that dyeing it in the same way they dye shoes would bleed and stain the leather. But he sold me a bottle of suede spray. Spray, like spray paint. I was skeptical. He wanted me to spray paint my purse? But a little internet searching later, I saw that people do indeed spray suede. I reasoned that the thing was too dirty to every carry again, I might as well try something. I mean, it's ruined either way, right?
Here are the before pictures. You cannot tell how absolutely ruined the purse is from these pictures, so don't think me a ninny about it.
I prepped it for the suede spray paint. (ahhh, now you can get a better grasp on the dirtiness I had been toting around).
Time to spray...I have a bad feeling about this:
Oh my, it was TERRIBLE! When I peeled the newspaper off, it was just gray and uneven and in general awful. Just not precise enough. It looked, well, spray-painted. I was done. I had to try a new tactic. So I went to the fabric store and bought actual fabric paint, safe for suede. At this point it was just a raging experiment. I plopped myself down on the couch with some old tivo'd Oprahs and set to work. (I started the painting on the front side of the purse. I had sprayed the back side stripe).
This went better. Not perfect, but better. Painting with a paintbrush
let me get deep into the suede, something the spray wasn't doing. Suede
is tricky, but at least I could see what I was doing.
I painted the middle stripe black, but decided to paint the outside stripes dark brown, just for the contrast. I got it all done except for the part around the "L" logo (as seen above). I couldn't get in close enough even with a fine paintbrush, because of the consistency of the paint. I thought I was stuck and reached for my last resort, that trick in every crafters back pocket: SHARPIE.
Yes, my friends, I Sharpie'd my First Fancy Purse. I'm worried it might fade gray or purple (as Sharpie tends to do) but for now it's holding. I'm not entirely pleased with the results, but it's passable. I don't think you would give it a double-take if you saw me at the mall. I took it out on my errands yesterday and felt fine about it.
I feel like in these pictures you see the mistakes even more than you do in real life. It passed The Gorilla's test (he himself is an artist and quite the perfectionist). Here are close-ups of the Sharpie'd "L" and just the suede in general. You'd have to be really close to notice.
So, there are ways to salvage your stuff. Sometimes it takes a little work. My First Fancy Purse is not officially my Errand Running Purse. The Gorilla bought me a new Fancy Purse for my birthday last year, but can a girl have too many?! Probably not.
UPDATE: I didn't really carry the purse that much after this. A few times total. After a little bit of time, it started to fade and then didn't look good in any way. And by that time I had moved on.
I still have it, though. I accept that purses come and purses go.
Thank you so much for all your messages today. I appreciate them more than you know.
Pigtail and I crossed the country today on the five hour flight + one hour drive that constitutes the path to our lake house. We did okay. At seven months, Pigtail is more aware and curious which means she isn't as content in her car seat for hours and hours anymore.
But all things considered, we arrived at my favorite place intact. A very gracious and lovely woman in the seat beside me on the airplane helped our travel attitude tremendously. In the past few days, I have become so aware of small kindnesses.
Later this week, I'll make a very brief journey to Oklahoma to honor Pru.
Then I'll be back at the lake with 12 friends to celebrate a bride-to-be for the Memorial Day weekend. Things will be - are - hectic and emotional.
I have no idea what this means for HH for the next week or so. Maybe it will be a little sparse over here. Maybe there will be an outpouring of my written emotion. I thrive on consistency, but I can't promise that right now. I think I'll take the opportunity to re-post some of my favorite things from my former blog that I've been wanting to get over here anyway.
For you, I hope that these early days of summer are more fun than frazzled. More sunny than weathered. Full of anticipation and hope.
For me, even in the sadness there is so, so much joy.
Early Saturday morning, my family's dear friend, my father's law partner in that small town, and our Christmas Eve hostess for as long as I can remember passed away.
She grew up in Iowa. She went to Wellesley. She graduated first in her OU law class, beating out her husband and my father and the future governor. She was the one my mom called when my fever got too high as a child, because she would certainly have a solution.
She will be so greatly missed.
I met the mailman at the new house. I was happy to introduce myself and explain to him where we were moving the mailbox.
He said, "Are you his wife?"
Whose wife?"The neighbor told me LL Cool J was moving in."
I debated in my head the pros and cons of this. But finally,
"No, sir. We are not LL Cool J."
I will not apologize for my lack of hearty links this week. You know where I've been. Not moving in to not-LL Cool J's house.
I think it's clever that this artist took his friend's FB status updates and made them into art. I certainly have some friends who write art-worthy things on Facebook.
Speaking of the FB, I've added a "Like" button to each individual post here at HH, so you can share something you like that way. There is still the button in the right sidebar to "Like" the Hollywood Housewife blog. That gives you my posts in your news feed.
I finally caught up on the season finale of Gossip Girl. Holy Heck is all I'll say. (Okay, I'll also say I have undying love for Chuck Bass.) And don't even say a word about the Grey's Anatomy finale. I haven't watched it yet, but everyone seems abuzz over it.
Last but certainly not least, here is a clip of our friend Amy on The Today Show. She co-authored it with the chef who was recently arrested for attempting to hire a homeless man to kill his wife. So there's that.
This week was a blur of new house stuff, friends, planning, planning, planning, and the Week In The Life Project. The picture at the top is from that project.
I love it all, but I'm hoping time will slow down a little. I'm missing things.
Happy weekend, HH readers!
There are a few letters that I've been meaning to write for a long time. Inspired by Laura at Chicken Counting, I decided to take a few moments this week to sit down and craft these sentiments to three women who were important to me for various reasons.
Two of them are my former teachers. I think about these teachers often, and I want them to know the impact they had on my life after I received their instruction.
Letter writing took the place of blogging last night, and when I was done I felt the warmth that is only created by saying something you've been wanting to say.
I was all set, upon several recommendations, to start An American Wife. But last week my brain was full to the point of exploding, so of course it made more sense to pick up this "lite" memoir of a woman's journey back to her roots after a painful divorce.
The return to a faith-filled home was exactly not what I should have been reading last week, but I tend to go with my gut. And standing in Costco, my gut lurched for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen.
I read it in two days. I laughed myself to tears, once even reading aloud to The Gorilla, who I assure you had no idea what was funny about the passage. Janzen writes well, and her essays read as if you're chatting.
But if we were chatting, I would ask more probing questions. While her humor is just right, I kept wishing she would get into the deeper parts of this story. I wanted to know more about the end of her marriage or why she left the church in the first place. I wanted to know more about her relationship with her siblings. I wanted her story to go further than she was willing to go. That's the tricky part of a memoir.
There were a few slams I could have done without. My eyes narrow visibly whenever someone takes aim at sororities. An easy target, perhaps, but it always reeks to me of bitterness. I also took a strange personal offense to this sentence: "Thousands of undereducated zealots had adored Mel Gibson's cinematic presentation of the Passion of Christ." I didn't see that movie and don't plan to, but I disagree that the masses that did should fall into an "undereducated" category.
I ate up her relationship with her parents - especially her mom - and the stories from her childhood. Several stories sent me to the 'net because I was completely unfamiliar with the Mennonite culture. She helpfully explains a few things in the back of the book about their branch of the Christian religion.
It's hard to place how she feels about Mennonites now. I understand that, being unable to put words to something that is a part of you whether you like or not. But maybe, as I grapple with my own wandering path, I wish she had tried.
My husband The Gorilla is in the homestretch of shooting his third feature film, a 3D installment in a franchise he created. This is my End Credit series, where I explain what all those titles mean at the beginning and end of a movie.
As it sounds, the AD works directly with the Director - who we have established is the captain of the ship - but unlike it sounds, the AD doesn't direct in at all the same way that the Director does. An AD's direction is about logistics, not art. The AD's work on set largely involves playing the "bad cop" to the Director's Chief of Police. (Wait, are we on a ship or at a police department?) The AD's "bad cop" duties include regularly barking orders to insure that everyone is running on time and in the right place before someone calls "Action."
The AD coordinates all of the elements to get the shot ready for the Director. Camera, sound, props, extras, you name it, the AD has them doing their thing when they're supposed to be doing it. He also has them cleared when they need to be cleared. Since he is in charge of all these various elements, his awareness of the Director's pace as well as the producer's timely budget concerns is of the utmost importance.
The AD and those from his department can usually be heard hollering for or at the other departments, checking that they're ready and checking that they're where they're supposed to be. They are the keepers of all things schedule and their loud voices are also lent to call "Action" and other such things for the Director. On set, if a crew member has a direction-type question, they will approach the AD department and not the Director.
If the production is large enough, there will be a full AD department led by the First AD over the 2nd AD, 3rd AD, and so on. AD's need to be very organized, not afraid to get mean, and can't be meek-voiced.
A quality AD really has the pulse of the overall production. It's a more prestigious position than it sounds, and people make entire careers as Assistant Directors.
*Itching for more End Credits? Click the box in my left sidebar that says "The Gorilla's Movie" for a list of all the title's I've covered.
I have a tendency to obsess. My mind swirls, my journal gets an earful.
Obsession gets me nowhere, but darn if I don't try to make it a fuel for my fire. I usually end up miserable and frustrated.
I will squeeze something so tight that we wrestle to the floor until finally, exhausted, I unclench my grip and stand up and walk away.
This list is ever-evolving, but here are a few things I'm letting go of right now:
1. Cute PJ's. This may seem silly and shallow to you, but I fret over pajamas. Pajamas! I like to be comfortable, so I stay in my pajamas as long as possible in the morning and change into them as early as is acceptable in the evenings. I've tried cute ones, sexy ones, plain tanks, long and soft, every style imaginable. But you know what I keep coming back to? Victoria's Secret giant cotton boyfriend sweatpants and a t-shirt. The older and rattier the better.
I want my husband to think I look cute when we're lounging around the house, and I don't want to be embarrassed when I answer the door for the Fed Ex man. But I cannot seem to train my brain to be comfy in anything else. For now, this is not a battle I'm going to fight, no matter how much of a microcosm it is for my overall appearance concerns.
(I know I may be alone in my pajama worry, but don't judge. Do you constantly fret over your hair or your jeans or your shoes? You're convinced that if that one thing was right, the rest of your look would click into place? That's how I feel about pajamas. Pajamas!)
2. Pigtail's Affection Level. I have done something as a mom that I never, ever thought I would do: I watch Pigtail's reactions like a hawk to mentally compare them. I could probably do a whole psychobabble Mommy Monday post on this one, it's such a confession.
The thing is, Pigtail is not particularly affectionate. She'll let you love on her, but she's not much of a cuddler herself. And if you get too huggy, she'll flat push you away. But I watch to see if she's doing it to her daddy, to her nanny, to her Uncle R.
Instead of taking a personal insult from a 7-month-old, I should probably take a deep breath.
3. Friendship Behaviors. This, too, could be an entire series of posts, but I'll refrain. One of the biggest lessons I've learned in the past year is that within the ebb and flow of your friendships, you have to manage your expectations. It is highly possible that you may feel yourself ebbing away from someone while they are feeling particularly flow-y towards you. And vice versa. I think, with certain people in your life who are here to stay, if you can learn to accept them for who they really really are - not who you expect them to be - you'll spend significantly less time disappointed.
Now, if I can confess to pajama stress, then you can certainly feel free to say what grips you at noon on a Thursday. What are you letting go of lately?