my vbac birth story

Little Ollie, our little man.

I've been wanting to tell this story of how Oliver was born for a long time. It was an amazing time for me, and also I think there's some good information here for other women who might be considering VBAC, which stands for vaginal birth after Caesarean section in case you didn't know. Oliver turned four the other day and there is little chance I will have any more birth stories to tell in this lifetime, so here goes it. It's a long one, so click on "read more" below to read more.


martha stewart american made awards + papel SF

WHO: Me and my paper art business, papel SF

WHAT: Martha Stewart American Made Awards

WHEN: Right now until midnight Friday, September 13, 2013

WHERE: Click HERE to vote for papel SF

HOW OFTEN: Six times a day, every stinkin' day!


As you may or may not know, I am riding on the coattails of the overwhelmingly positive response to my giant paper peony piñatas, and have decided that I would LOVE to spend the next few years making them, as well as exploring where they could lead as a business and as an artistic endeavor. I am applying for artists' grants that might let me start to blossom (no pun intended) into some more expressive forms of art, and am going out on a limb to see if I can get involved in academia. My newly developed paper skills combined with my art and architecture background must be good for something, right?

In the meantime, if you would consider voting for me and my newly christened business, papel SF, in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards I would be so honored. I am saddened that it is more of a popularity contest than a competition based on merit, but that's the way it is. You can vote six times every 24 hours from today until Friday, September 13th at midnight when the voting closes. I will post daily reminders on my corner blog Facebook page.

HERE is that link again for voting. Thank you so much for your time and consideration. If I were to place in this competition, or even catch Martha's attention for a minute, it would mean the world to me!

Thank you! xoxo


vacation slides

A case of astronaut ice cream for the road; gorgeous Hwy. 12 through Utah; my wrist.

It's a funny thing, sharing your vacation photos online. It's like the dreaded vacation slide show. Who really want to sit through all of that? For now, I'm just going to hit you with some more pretty pictures from our road trip. Instagram plus the palette of the southwestern landscape are a marriage made in heaven.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you next week! xoxo

Sundress weather; beer and quicos for motel happy hour; the amorphous bris de soleil at Site Santa Fe.

Four states at once; the sky over Austin, NV; iced coffee at the Kiva Koffeehouse. 

The amazing food; my 4th trip to Bandelier National Monument; un lápiz de color pimiento caliente.

Georgia O'Keeffe, before her husband died and she "took control of her image"; a mid-afternoon cuddle puddle;
Ollie being a grouch in the morning.

Haggling (amongst themselves); The Pantry in Santa Fe for great carne adovada; a Frito pie.

Motor lodge living; wooden ladder at Bandelier; the sky above the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian.

Special breakfast in Corrales; nighttime at the El Rey Inn; dressing up.

The BEST travelers; evening in Santa Fe; a circus at Tinkertown Museum.

At the giant meteor crater we didn't see; a hilarious night; the last night.


noodling around

I've been noodling around with my papers the last few days, trying to see if I can add anything new to my repertoire. Saturday I remembered I had a big bag of tassels I had bought for various burlesque costumes in my newly clean supply closet. Turns out they are perfect for making stamens for crepe paper flowers! I've been using the tassel-y ends as well as the knotted ends for different flowers, trying not to be too realistic and also not too fantastical. I think they add a great touch, especially for a headpiece. I'm working on foxglove hybrids and big fuschias that can dangle near the ears and little dogwood blossoms with tassels hanging off the backs. Love 'em.

I had a professor in architecture school named Mark Mistur. The most valuable thing Mark taught me was that the act of drawing can lead to design. The pen moving across the tracing paper can inform you just as much as if you had sat down to draw an idea you had in your head already. Your hands can lead the act of design just as your head can.

I can't believe how many new (not all good, by the way) little ideas I came up with this weekend just by playing. Good advice.

Note: The tassels are from Etsy seller TibetanSilverNMore.


round up: maudlin

Oliver started preschool this week and Stella's last day of summer vacation is today. My overly nostalgic brain is on overload. I started this blog to document our summer vacation in 2011 before any of this other D.I.Y. and donut stuff came along. The whole time this day felt so far away, and now here we are.

I'm totally maudlin about it. It's hard for me to look over toward the living room while I'm working on something or other and not see Oliver playing right there. He has been standing by patiently since he was born through psuedo-renovations, costume making frenzies and a million baking projects. I think I imposed on him a bit of patience and resourcefulness through boredom and slow days, and if I did I hope it serves him well. I am going to miss our regular coffee dates and crazy-long run-on conversations every morning. I'm going to feel lonely for a while, I imagine.

Out with the kids.

From the cover of Blankets Weaving in the Southwest. We saw an incredible exhibit at the Wheelright Museum
in Santa Fe on Navajo blankets from the mid-to-late 1800s and I had to bring this book home. Amazing.

Stella has a laundry list of New Mexican inspired projects for her dolls.
We made some clay skulls, some "turquoise" beads and chiles for ristras.

I also made this quick doll tent with $12 of materials. We might paint it later.

These two are kid magnets, especially Stella.

A new pursuit for Oliver and Stella, a half a block from us with the most amazing instructor.

High tea to celebrate the start of a new school year. 

As always, we made the most of our summer and we all feel incredibly blessed to have spent so much time together. I've sort of got one foot out the door toward next week and my new life as someone who has a few hours each weekday without a child to care for. Eight years is a long stretch to raise kids without relatives around and very little child care. I've done a lot with the time I've had here with the kids so I'm really curious to see what I can do without them around all the time.

Of course it's a total change for Oliver, too. He is the only English speaker in his Spanish immersion preschool, but he is doing great so far. In fact he hasn't missed me one bit! Good for him.

I hope you have a great weekend and I'll see you next week! xoxo

p.s. Horrible photo quality due to another scratched phone camera lens.


showtime: art history part deux, elbo room, july 9, 2013

Keeping the burlesque thing going this week, I guess! This time last month I was lucky to be able to perform three acts in Bombshell Betty's art history themed show. This is the show that I initially developed my Frida Kahlo act for back in October of 2011 (see here) and I am always happy to perform it again. That said, I am seriously thinking of retiring the act as I know there are other people who perform in the same circles that I do who are really wanting to explore performing burlesque as Frida. It just seems fair, so maybe I'll take it for one last spin somewhere and then let it go.

Pre-show shot with Penny Chianti, Spun Honey, Sonora Sway and Boysenberry Cupcake (seated). We should
do this more often, everything is in such a disarray AFTER we perform! Photo by Jeff Lapierre

Bombshell Betty, Red Delicious and I in our Andy Warhol's pop art Marilyn act. Photo by Thad Gann.

This show was extra special to me for two reasons. First, I have been dying to perform Betty's chair dance choreography to Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" and I finally got the chance. I LOVE that dance. I love performing it! And second, I had loads of friends in the audience, mostly new friends I met through the blog or tangentially through last year's Girl Crush, save for two! There were ten people in my cheering section which was awesome. Six of them drove all the way into San Francisco from West Marin for the show. So nice! Most of the people in my life have seen me perform several times, so it was really great that I was able to rally a bunch of new blood for the show. Loved it. Thank you Nicky and company, Rhea and Sandra, Tony and Jan and Bridget and Bill. Most of them have their own wonderful blogs and I'd link 'em up if this wasn't a post about burlesque. You never know, you know?

I could really tell that night that I've gotten bigger this year, mostly over the summer which was not my plan. The Marilyn costume didn't fit like before and I could barely get my Mexican blanket shorts zipped. I felt so great on stage but was again mortified by most of the photos I saw. Same old same old with me.

But Oliver started preschool yesterday and Stella will be back at school next week (boo!), so I will have zero excuses not to exercise for the first time in eight years. Obviously I will let you know how that goes. ;)

Terrible iPhone selfies, but I nailed my eye makeup that night. So shiny!


all that glitters

Artwork by Jamie Vasta.

I should be posting donuts today, but I couldn't sit on this any longer. Recently I posed for fine artist Jamie Vasta in her Oakland studio for a series of portraits she is doing of burlesque and high femme performers. I was blown away when she shared a photo of the finished piece with me a few weeks ago. I have been immortalized in glitter, and I can't believe it. Isn't it INCREDIBLE? And she made me look so good, too! I can't wait to see it in person. ALL GLITTER, PEOPLE!

Jamie is creating dozens of pieces in this series. I have seen many of them and they are just stunning. All of her work is. I will keep you posted on the opening date this of her show this fall at Patricia Sweetow Gallery here in San Francisco. The pieces are first traveling to Houston in October for the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, so we'll see if "I" make it back to the San Francisco show or not!

A huge thank you to Jamie, and to Lisa Congdon, Jamie's friend and studio mate who put the two of us in touch! Such a thrill!

I've posted the uncensored version (it's still decent) after the jump, so check it out if you'd like. Have a great Monday! xoxo


inspiration bored

Last week I tore down my inspiration board, which had consisted solely of images I collected over a decade ago when I was a gung-ho botanical painter. They were pinned or draft-dotted to a 12" wide floor-to-ceiling wall protrusion between our kitchen and living room where everyone could see them all the time. I left the jumble of all of it up there for all this time, thinking that those images define my aesthetic and were reminders of what I wanted to achieve someday.

They definitely were good reminders. There were images of peonies and persimmons from my idol Jeffrey Ripple, note cards with Charles Rennie Mackintosh's whimsical but accurate flowers printed on the fronts, and pages of portraits by Lucian Freud ripped from some old issue of Vanity Fair. There were Polaroids of my process work from the early Aughties, postcards from all the openings I attended mostly for the free booze and snacks way back when, and myriad random other botanical illustrations.

I was surprised to find that I am really happy to have that piece of wall clear. I told David it was a place where we can start to pin real estate or other images together as we work to get ourselves out of our small flat someday, but now I think we'll keep it empty. When you live somewhere as long as we've lived here, it can become really hard to make it feel fresh. Getting rid of vestiges of a past life that means nothing to me now on the surface was a good call. I literally breath easier when I'm working in the kitchen at night without my that part of my past hanging right over my shoulder. 

I started thinking about what other places in our home might hold that kind of old news and immediately flashed on our stacks of books. My books in particular are mostly leftover from architecture school or were purchased during long-faded obsessions with different architects and artists and places in the years right after I graduated. I have no intention of getting rid of those books, but when we move someday they won't deserve that kind of prominence anymore. 

I hope you have a great weekend! We're headed to Marin for one last pool day before Oliver starts preschool next week. Summer's pretty much over for us here, and that's a bummer. 



getting organized

That was fun. Stella and I did this the other day. A little motor skill action, a little study in composition.

We've been indoors for most of the past week, whether home or at the library or cafe due to miserable S.F. weather. Enjoying every minute of it because Oliver starts preschool next Tuesday and for the first time in eight years I won't have a child by my side all day. This is causing me varying degrees of panic, then thankfulness for all the time I've had with them, then excitement for a future that might include unfettered time for exercise and earning. For the first time in years I'm also wishing I was pregnant again, but that would be terrible for all parties and I've got to sit with that feeling until it fades away. This is how the human race keeps perpetuating itself, obviously. Nutty it would hit me now after how crazy I go never having time for myself, but it makes sense. No way though.

Deep thoughts for a Wednesday. I need to get back on the donuts!


the loneliest road: san francisco CA-----> austin NV-----> baker NV

They are not kidding.

You have to have a lot of mettle to start a road trip across U.S. Route 50. It truly is The Loneliest Road in America, which we read about while planning our trip and set out on deliberately. It's a two lane road and there is NOTHING along the way, save for a few gems closer to Utah. If you are headed east from California, this is a fantastic way to get away from EVERYTHING quickly. It set a nice tone for the beginning of our trip. No giant billboards, no signs of commerce at all. We were on a ROAD TRIP.

We set out on a Saturday morning, stopping in town for what we knew would be our best cup of coffee for a long time. We hooked up with Route 50 east of Reno and Lake Tahoe near the town of Fallon. We had a few snacks with us so we made a strong push that day; one pit stop at an alpine campground, lunch in a Walgreens parking lot and about six hours to our first destination: Austin, Nevada.

The landscape across Route 50 is very beautiful, and very repetitive. A mountain pass would open up before us and reveal another twenty or so more miles of open plains, then another, then another. A daunting looking storm in the distance would turn out to be a fifteen second rain shower when we finally passed through it. We got really lucky with the weather during the trip. It never really rained on us, but the rains throughout the southwest during our two weeks away kept the temperatures in the high 80 to low 90 range. Which was fine by us, we were looking for heat.

When we arrived in Austin we found a living ghost town. Every business was shuttered, and they were all for sale. We had booked two adjoining rooms at one of the only places to stay in town, the rustic but nice Union Street Lodging. We had an iffy and overpriced dinner at one of the two restaurants in town and a nice walk with a beautiful sunset, played some games in the living room (a B & B staple) and went to bed early. 

The second day of our trip we enjoyed a nice breakfast cooked by Dee at the B & B. The weather was beautiful, so we lingered for a while in our jammies before heading out. We stopped by a stone monolith called Stokes Castle (not much of a castle) on the way out of town, but hastily departed when we realized we were being stalked by a giant, super aggressive wasp. It followed our car at least 150 feet back down the hill!

That day we were able to make two stops along Route 50. One at the Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area for a quick little hike, and then at one of my favorite places of our entire trip, the Nevada Northern Railway Museum. The museum is located in the desolate and struggling town of Ely, Nevada and was such a great find. It's an operating historical railroad. We walked around the rail yard and then into the engine house, where train engines were lined up in rows, some idling and spitting diesel smoke through the openings in the roof. It was greasy and so dirty, and it was totally magnificent. I HIGHLY recommend visiting the museum some day if you find yourself in that area. Really cool.

Hickison hike.

Idling trains in the engine house.

The greasy machine shop.

Let me tell you, there is just about no where to eat in Ely, Nevada. This was one of the days we ate gas station food and washed it down with Coke. So gross. The lack of fresh food across that whole part of the country was really shocking, but that's a whole 'nother story.

After our late "lunch" we headed out to cover the last 70 miles of that day's journey, to a strange little hidden retreat center in Baker, Nevada, just east of Great Basin National Park on the border with Utah. That was the end of The Loneliest Road for us. Two days from San Francisco to the center of the Nevada/Utah border. Not bad!

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