Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hey folks, I got a new gig!

And by new gig, I mean quite possibly the best new gig in town. I'm the new design assistant (behind the scenes) on HGTV's show "Curb Appeal!" I design and implement the mini neighbor makeovers and contribute to the main house re-design for things like house colors, lighting, staging and other final touches. I just gave myself a giant pat on the back. And a gin & tonic.

It happened really quickly in comparison to how long I've been looking for a new gig. Ever since The Start-up Who Shall Remain Nameless kicked the tech bubble bucket and took my newly minted Vice President job with it, I've been on a roller coaster of reexamining what my next step would be. Of course there's always the fall-back of re-starting my little design consulting business, of which I am so lucky to have the option.

But working alone is a lonely business, and it's hard to teach yourself new tricks. It's hard to be your own challenger in a one-woman workplace, no matter how many design magazines you subscribe to or how many hours you spend sitting alone in the Design Center cafe, hoping someone will notice your awesomeness and invite you to sit at their table. 

I crave learning new things. I need collaboration and water cooler chat and gripe sessions about that lady from Pottery Barn who thought she knew everything but was so far off the mark. I miss happy hours with my co-workers and constructive criticism from my boss. I need to work with actual human beings so that when my sweetie gets home from work, I don't meet her at the front door spewing word parts about how the new Anderson Cooper daytime show is surprisingly two parts boring and one part Maury Povich.

This is what working from home *alone* will do to you. 

You forget how to work. You get job search ADD and start applying for jobs you've never done but think it would be cool to try out. You get rejected on a weekly basis for jobs you're over qualified for, and you take yourself to the brink of excitement that the next interview will be the one. You bury your head in a good book and forget that you need a job. You start to think that you could actually live on unemployment for a while.

John Gidding = Handsome Personified.
And then POOF! You get a text that says your name is being considered for an opening on a design show! And then you go in the next day to interview with some producers and (name drop alert) John Gidding! And the first thing you say to him is, "Hi! I'm Shannon! I want to run my fingers through your hair."

So inappropriate.

And then they go through your portfolio, ask you a few questions and say, "Yeah, I think this is going to work out. Do you want the job?"

Thank you very much.

Ok, I might be a little too excited...
Photo by Peter Campbell

But this is what you've been waiting for, get excited! The right job in the right environment with people who will challenge the way you think about design, teach you new ways to communicate your ideas and take full advantage of what you bring to the table.

Will Work For A Windex Endorsement.

Filming in the rain...

Rudy, Kwasi and Suz
modeling the aprons I made during my unfortunate unemployment stint...

Kimberly and Rudy
(Rudy is the Dir. of Photog., not the painter, by the way.)

Bill, Charlie, John & I!

For this opportunity, I give thanks.


Monday, October 31, 2011

Speaking Of Loyalty, Love & Loss . . .

My sewing machine broke yesterday.

After 10+ years and a bazillion yards of fabric for curtains, pillows, duvets, halloween costumes, seat cushions, upholstery jobs, aprons, bibs, cribs, and flubs, she simply gave out. I listened closely as she clanged to a grinding halt, letting me know that she was done, a last dramatic breath that said, "I just. Can't. Go on. Like this. Any. More." Puh.

She had such dramatic lighting.
That's what I loved most about her.

I'm not surprised though. I did take her apart, down to the screws, about seven years ago in order to get rid of that g.d. squeaking noise. After putting her back together (simply eliminating the squeaking culprit), I had nine screws and a small belt leftover. But she kept on stitching like the machine that she was, devoid of emotions of loss or ravage.

I admit, I didn't take proper care of her. I didn't dust the bobbin enclosure. Ever. I fiddled with her tension every five stitches, never really understanding the concept. I pushed the pedal to the metal too often, causing her to shake like a plane skidding on the runway. She's been banged around, driven cross country, locked in dark closets and cursed at into the wee hours of the night. Yet she just kept on button-holing and back-locking like a pro.

More than like a pro, like a friend who says, "It's ok that you keep hitting me in the face, I still believe in what you're doing."

So what did I do to honor the passing of my dear, sweet, devoted sidekick? I went on Amazon and replaced her with a younger, faster, newer model with 72 stitch functions, quilting features, a free arm for larger projects who hums like a baby in the night.

Go ahead, say what you're thinking. I'm a fair-weather friend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Trashy Makeover #1

I'm a sucker for trash.

Call it my trailer park roots or my projected affection for wounded animals, whatever. I saw a chair on the street the other day and forced myself to walk past it. As a bargain, I promised that if it was still there when I came back after body pump class an hour and a half later, then it was a sign.

Guess what. It was still there.

When I see an old rotting piece of furniture on the street, I think about all those times I laid in the grass under the late summer sun and promised our cat Whiskers that I'd always take care of her, no matter how independent she grew or how many times she ran off and got herself knocked up.

I can't walk away.

Everybody hurts.

Let me ask you a couple of hypotheticals:

  1. If you saw a scruffy, three-legged puppy wandering aimlessly through the crosswalk, would you drop your ice cream cone, run to it, arms wailing in the air, screaming, "Mama, I'll save you!!"
  2. If you walked into a guitar shop and saw a teeny faced mullet in a Black Crowes t-shirt playing "Everybody Hurts" into the empty corner, would you walk over quietly, so as not to spook, and say, "Oh honey. Can you not do that?"
If you hypothetically answered yes to either of these, then you know what I'm talking about. It's our lot.

Before Glamour Shots:

After Glamour Shots:

Who's hurting now?

Monday, September 12, 2011

How To Make Pesto, Family Style

{ Scroll down for the recipe. }

Me & Bunny
I learned how to make pesto from a woman named Bunny. She's a cool ol' broad who built a log cabin with her own two hands and makes biscuits by putting her hips into it. She's tough as nails and warm like butter, and she's left a mark on my kitchen that goes deeper than the kitchen sink.

She tasted my mid-made pesto, and from over her shoulder gruffed simply, "More garlic," in her leftover east coast accent. Ok, I thought. Right. More garlic. But first I quietly tasted it myself to see if I could get what she got, if I could taste what she did and be able to name what was missing without missing a beat.

We were having about 25 people over to our little apartment for a big family dinner, including Gary Danko (yes, that Gary Danko) to celebrate the life of Bunny's son Chris, who after two weeks of lying in a deep sleep, and 35 years before that of giving this world his funny, unique and wholly honest breath, passed away, leaving us to ourselves and our food. We had held vigil in his hospital room for those weeks laughing, crying and hoping, and coming home each night to my kitchen, something that will never be less than amazing to me.

Chris worked with Gary at his restaurant in San Francisco, and over the years Gary got sucked into this wonderful family, just like me. He slid into my kitchen and quietly stood hip-to-hip with Bunny, each of them getting to work on getting through this. Even then the 24-yr old me knew that Gary. Danko. Is. Making. A. Rue. In. My. Kitchen., but looking back on it, what's seared into my memory is how we were all the same level of human in that moment, brought together by a very special guy named Chris and the food that would nourish our bodies to keep us going.

Although my Beginner's Bunny Pesto certainly wasn't the focus at the table that night, I've made it a million times since then. Each and every time, it's never lost on me where and when I learned how to taste the food I'm making and know instinctively when it needs more garlic.

Bunny's Pesto
When baking Bunny measures like a scientist, but when cooking at the stove, eyeballing it is the only way to go. It's an art form that applies to this recipe. Maybe the lack of exact measurements will encourage you to "just go with it," and not want to crack under the anxiety like I did the first few times. When in doubt, always start with less and add more to taste.

A couple of bunches of fresh basil
1-2 lemons, zest & juice (start with one and add more if needed.)
1-2 Garlic cloves chopped, you be the judge
About 1/2 cup toasted nuts - walnuts & pine nuts are my favorites
About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, Asiago or Romano cheese
E.V. Olive Oil - use the good stuff for this since it's not cooked.
Kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper
  1. Start by toasting the nuts. I use a small cast iron skillet and hover smotheringly, otherwise I WILL burn them.
  2. In a food processor (or blender) add the basil, lemon zest and juice of one lemon, garlic, nuts, cheese, salt and pepper. 
It will look kinda like this:

      3. Start blending, and drizzle in the olive oil through the lid until it comes together like this.

      4. Taste it. It should have a fragrant basil aroma, a subtle garlic spice and a bold acidity from the lemons. If all you taste is lemon, then you need more salt. Add a touch more and blend. If it's bland, then add more lemon juice. Dance around with the salt, lemon juice, garlic and parmesan until you get to the good stuff: A zesty, aromatic, tangy pesto.

And then do this:

Cheese Tortellini with Sauteed Chicken, Kale and Heirloom Tomatoes

And this:

And then with the leftover pesto sauce, do this:

Take it to your friend's house, and they'll send you this:

Photo by my buddy Peter Campbell

What are your most vivid memories of learning to cook?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

New Rule: Four-Mile Loops From Now On Or I'll Break Your Face

What. Are. You. Looking. At.
We went on a great hike this weekend on Mt. Tam. And by great, I mean I only broke out into an Amazing Race style breakdown once. But it lasted for two miles. 

Sweetums was coming off a week-long conference, and me, well I've just been trying to keep my grip on reality.
Side Note: Sometimes I get a little melodramatic, and I just want y'all to know that I use words like "losing my grip on reality" and "breakdown" loosely these days. I'm totally ok.
So we needed an escape from the fog and a little Vitamin D boost to make the holiday weekend feel like a holiday weekend. Some friends told us about this hike, which looked awesome to me because I love hikes that make me feel like I'm actually in the woods, as opposed to those open, dusty, pollen infested meadow hikes. I'm not a meadow girl, never have been. I love dense overhead canopies, babbling brooks and little wooden bridges. (Which is why the Dipsea is one of my favorite Bay Area hikes of all time. If you're visiting the Bay Area, I beg you, go on a hike instead of Fisherman's Wharf. You'll thank me.)

When you talk about hikes, most people talk about things like loops and difficulty and exposure and hiking time. When Sweetums showed me our hike, I thought, "Oh, 6.5 mile loop... That sounds great!" And the additional description of:
"This loop is a tour de force of the mountain's magic: you'll experience dense forests, aromatic chaparral, rushing creeks, waterfalls, and flower-dotted meadows."
I was completely sold. And y'all, 6.5 miles is not that bad. My friends run circles around 6.5 miles for breakfast. I was a college athlete. I can walk 6.5 miles.

But when you factor in the climb, which they sheepishly called "a pleasant ascent" or "now the trail will begin a short climb," (and the fact that I was in college 10 years ago) 6.5 miles is a nice little workout. Thank goodness I got my hot pink and orange running shoes on.

The Start.

By the way, this is not a real hiking outfit. I just don't have it in me to wear cargo pants anymore. But I did see a woman wearing a hiking skirt, which I thought was a great idea. Is that ridiculous? By the way, if you google hiking skirt, you'll get stuff like this, which is ok I guess.

For the first three miles of the hike, everything was coming up roses. I was taking pictures every three steps, breathing in the beauty arms stretched and yelping, "Look at this, look at it! This is where we live!"

This is fog. And underneath it is San Francisco. Which is why we weren't in San Francisco.

We were a happy little family of hikers.

Did you know that chihuahuas can't really hike 6.5 mile loops?

We didn't think to bring her little carrier backpack, so we had to fashion a sling out of my sweatshirt to carry her the last three miles.

And then we argued over who was going to carry me the last three miles.

This is about the time that I started my own pleasant ascent.

I ran out of water and began panicking about dehydration. We still had two miles left, and my hips were starting to ache. At every little trickle of stream, I paused and debated scooping some up into my water bottle. I started thinking about the fact that we didn't have a pocket knife to cut off any arms that get caught under boulders when we fall. We didn't have cell reception or pocket flares, and all of the sudden every other hiker that passed us looked like Creepy Hiker Guy Who Wants To Kill Us. I was searching every inch of ground looking for bodies, either left behind by Creepy Hiker Guy or victims of dehydration. We were stuck in the vast wilderness COMPLETELY UNPREPARED!

We had no way of reaching the outside world, civilization. 

And the bugs. The bugs came around mile 5 and hung out until mile 6.3. They were everywhere. Buzzing and being all gnatty, they were going to choke me to death and set up camp in my ears and nostrils. I was losing it, losing my grip. Get these f'ing BUGS OFF ME!! I can't TAKE IT! I'M OUT OF WATER!! We're never getting OUT OF HERE! This trail leads to NOWHERE!

Honestly, I didn't know how much more of this I could take.

But of course it's called a loop for a reason. Luckily, we made it back around to the beginning in one piece, but it was touch and go there for a while.

Ginger was very happy to be back in the comforts of the car. She still hasn't forgiven us.

And me, well I made it out ok, too. 
But I stand firm that we will only be doing four-mile loops from now on. 

The payoff? The ride home. 

Gaaa. I still pinch myself that I live here. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm starting over, y'all.

I have two blogs, a portfolio website, a twitter account, a facebook page. I'm on Blogher, Klout and google. I spend too much time on Pinterest, Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. My dog suffers.

And for some odd reason, I feel this is too much. I told my therapist that I felt like I was on Hoarders, and she said it was interesting because the people on Hoarders collect things that become replacements for the thing that's missing.  #socialcontact

I've been trying to think of how to eliminate at least one of these, even if it's just to make me feel less frantic, scattered and piecemeal.

I started this blog in the first place so I could put all of me in one place. The name was supposed to do its job of containment: eatlovehome. That's what I do, all in one breathe, as one action. So how did everything get so fragmented and spread out? Why do I have two blogs? Why isn't everything in one place?

A few months back, I got run over by a car. It was hilarious. And it set into action a chain of events that has been anything but hilarious. I got laid off from a job that I loved and was awesome at, I had surgery through my belly button, and I found out the only way I can have a baby is through IVF. And no matter how much I've tried to articulate myself, my talent and my worth, I still don't have a job.

This has left me somewhat in ruins.

And frantic, scattered, piecemeal. Fragmented.

So I started to write this other blog, my first one, where I drew these ridiculous pictures of what was happening. Now, I can't draw really, not like other people can. But when you get run over by a car, I'm telling you, there are some really strong images that come into your head. And then they just come out through the pencil you're holding, and then they end up on tumblr with a storyline.

I wrote about the drunk guy who ran over me, I wrote about how my sweetums was being a smartass over me losing my job, and I wrote about my really fun surgery. I wrote about how my road to being a Mommy was going to be harder than just being on the gay Mommy road. This was all me.

But then I started thinking about all the other things that are All Me, too. Like cooking and eating. And sewing, styling, making and building. And designing and traveling and daring and doing. I wanted to be in the community of the cool kids who were out making money on their blogs by posting fancy pictures of design-y stuff and being experts at things like button-holing and aperture. I wanted one hundred million followers!! I needed a hootsuite account ASAP!! What's my Klout SCORE NOW!?!?!

It got out of control.

I didn't see how those two different Me's went together in one place. It's like one is the personal and one is the professional, and they just don't belong in the same place. I mean, I wouldn't put pictures of my sutured belly button in my portfolio or curse like a sailor in my cover letter, right? I tried to picture my drawing stories on the same page as my DIY sewing projects and my Strawberry Coconut Cake pictures, and I just didn't see it.

I also got a major case of the blocks. I started stopping myself from drawing anything on this blog because the drawings go on my other blog, of course, not this one. This one is only for pictures of tacos and interesting angles of my sewing machine. Oh, the logic of a hoarder.   #magicalthinking

But now that they're separate, I feel like one of the Me's is missing the other Me. All the time.

And that sentence makes me feel really self-involved.

Anyhoo. I need to put everything in one place, and I'm stuck. I tried a little experiment this morning where I changed the heading picture of this blog, up at the top there. See where I stuck my head in there? That's from when I got run over by a car. I kinda like it. It feels like it fits.

I'm going to try another experiment tomorrow where I start posting my smitche blogs here. Maybe if they're all in one place, I'll feel more whole.

What thinks you?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Today I give you jellyfish . . .

Thank goodness my friend tricked me into coming to The Academy of Sciences 
with her and her little guy this morning. 

Otherwise I would have missed out on this:

Does this look familiar?