A Place for Lady F

You will notice a large gap between announcing the closing of our store until now. There are many reasons for that:

  1. I am writing for several clients which leaves little time for me
  2. I had a baby
  3. I am obsessed with said baby
  4. I really wanted to figure out how much I wanted to share about our baby’s life, and how intimate I wanted these posts to be
  5. Still figuring out #4 without it becoming a “mom blog”
  6. Said baby is now a toddler, so I guess its time to commit to something
  7. You can see snippets of what we’ve been up to on Instagram

So We’re Having a Baby…

“The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday’s love is part of today’s and the confidence in tomorrow’s love is also part of today’s. And when one dies, the memory lives in the other, and is warm and breathing. And when both die — I almost believe, rationalist though I am — that somewhere it remains, indestructible and eternal, enriching all of the universe by the mere fact that once it existed.”-Isaac Asimov

So we are expecting a baby girl at the beginning of February 2015! It’s funny…I started to Google “preparing for a natural…” and it autofilled “disaster,” (instead of the intended ‘birth’) which is a bit what it feels like thinking about becoming a parent. There are so many things to worry about, and to stress over, and I am also mourning a bit the loss of my selfish existence, without the dependency of a child. 

We are seeing the midwives at Texas Children’s and we have been very pleased with our experience so far. Besides the extreme “morning sickness” that had taken over my life the first several months, everything else has finally settled and I am well into the last month of the 2nd trimester. Its a strange elation, thinking of this little being growing inside of me. Entering the Fall and our busiest season at the shop and the Mister’s craziest time at work, there’s a rush for life to happen. With so much anticipation of whats next, I sometimes make it impossible to enjoy whats happening in the now. In our mechanized world of speed and efficiency, we sometimes forget that life is a process of ripening, and when I think of all of the stages this baby has to go through I am reminded of that. Seeing the Midwives and practicing Mindful Birthing has helped in trying to experience and observe the rhythm and pulse of this baby and my life as a whole.

I know the time is going to come, with this tiny human awkwardly staring up at us, basically saying, “so, now what?” And I know we will be just fine. I am embracing the fact that life will rarely be balanced, and that it doesn’t need to be for everyone to be happy. Thank you for all of the love and well wishes we have already received-this baby is going to be in such good company. 

Proud Dad
Proud Dad
The Grandmas doing what grandmas do
The Grandmas doing what grandmas do

Date a Girl Who Reads

Date A Girl Who Reads
by Rosemarie Urquico

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.
Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

Texas Style Council

Okay, so I have put off writing about my experience at Texas Style Council which happened last weekend in Austin. Just like I felt going into it, I still have mixed emotions about this “lifestyle blogging” craze and how I as a person, a brand, and a business can even fit into this world. On one side, you have women dressed to impress (mostly with clothes their “sponsors” provide) who seem to be doing things just for the sake of writing about them later. Then you have the group of women who aspire to be in that circle, still snapping pictures of their outfits in the middle of the street and desperately handing out their business cards with their witty blog titles and tag lines. Then there’s me; I have a blog, and a business that fits directly into this “new domesticity” wave of style, DIY, homemaking, and child-rearing. Spoiler alert! I found myself wanting to get to know these women in all categories, and I love reading most of their blogs! I think it is nice to notice the small beauties of life, and how cool is it that they make a living at it? I want to make a living owning a DIY makers space and shop. I am going to post a picture of the cutest garage apartment, a fantastic cocktail I enjoyed, and I do hope a few people notice, so I am really no different. But where does the line of authenticity get crossed?  I actually really enjoyed my time at the conference, learned a few good tips, but was terribly out of my comfort zone for 3 days straight, and the preconceived notions I held about this alternate world were mostly confirmed. So this is my attempt to stay authentic: a break down of my time in Austin, along with my evolving thoughts about this microcosm of sweet and simple lifestyle blogging.

I got in on Friday and met with a few potential and current artists we have in the shop. (I am going to feature my visits to Son of a Sailor, Bee Amour, Satchel & Sage, and Little Low in upcoming posts, plus the trip to my store crush, Nannie Inez!) Then I got to the garage apartment I found through Airbnb, and it was perfect! I enjoyed the quiet alone time in the trees the apartment offered, and it offered me the opportunity to shamelessly watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix. The apartment had so much charm (look at that bath tub!), the host was really sweet, and it was under a $5 cab ride to get anywhere.

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After checking in, there was a clothing and book swap at Lulus. This was one of my least favorite parts of the conference; there were way too many people crammed into a small space, and it was a bit uncomfortable (plus most of the clothes were for tiny people). I did run into an old friend of mine, Abby, who now blogs at A Geek Tragedy so that was a nice surprise. But the anxiety of being around a lot of really beautiful and fashionable women brought out the introvert in me, and I even shied away when a woman asked me about the book I was holding. Looking back, I am mad at myself for not engaging in a conversation, especially about books, and introducing myself, talking about my brand, etc. I got more comfortable with this as the weekend progressed, but it was surprising to feel a bit inadequate, when on a daily basis I am fairly outspoken and lively. I did end up going to dinner with my friend Abby, and new acquaintances Meg and Amy as we finished the night out on 6th Street. It was a good start to a very interesting yet trying weekend.

My new friends Meg, Abby, & Amy © Peter Tung
My new friends Meg, Abby, & Amy © Peter Tung

Saturday it was “back to school” at the conference, and in the morning sessions I attended iPhoneography 101 led by Carli fron Inked Fingers and eCommerce 101 led by Tasha from Imperfect Concepts. It was interesting to hear from Carli-mostly the tools and apps she uses, and how she built her business. I was intrigued that both sessions were filled and everyone seemed really engaged: taking notes and asking questions. It was nice to be around women wanting to learn from each other and taking the sessions seriously. But it was still a bit strange to be around these rockstars of the blog and social media world.  We as a society have this peculiar obsession with being able to peer into someone else’s life. I am no exclusion. I secretly love seeing pictures of people with their new families, wedding photos, recipes they are trying, and I also secretly hope they are paying a little bit of attention to me, my hottie husband, and my new business. But then it gets a little bit crazy, when you see the image of these neat, bright, and effortless lives splashed all over these blogs.  As Holly points out in a 2012 article in Frontier,  “How is it possible that so many women and their toddlers spent their Saturdays in blanket forts made from vintage quilts found at a swap meet? And does the world really need more Instagram shots of early-morning trips to the flower market?” I thought that this conference would dispel the myth of this perfection, and that just didn’t really happen for me.  I thought some of the information was really generic, and nobody got into the struggle in maintaining this online life, sponsors, and the risks (family, financial, personal) that go along with this lifestyle of putting yourself out there. “These women don’t just maintain squeaky-clean, camera-ready homes and adorable families, they also run independent businesses, wear perfect outfits, rock exquisitely styled hair—and find the time to blog about it.” I think it is all really amazing, but I wish I saw a bit more authenticity throughout the weekend. Bottom line, it’s a weird way of becoming famous. But it’s happening, and I support these women over other ways of gaining celebrity status. (And I found myself in awe most of the weekend.) “There’s something ineffably appealing about perfectly puffed pie crusts, pigeon-toed fashion shoots, and sweet, uncomplicated musings on vintage hairclips.” I am still in a state of heightened awareness as I peruse these blogs, read about their experiences at TXSC, and sort out my feelings about it all. In the meantime, here are some shots of Austin and the “classroom” from the Hyatt Regency.

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Saturday afternoon was filled with a thrift field trip to Savers with Jentine of My Edit and a resale shop tour at Moss and Ragalicious with a pop-up shop from Janette of Fashion Loves People. I had a great time, found some fantastic clothes, a purse, and a vintage Singer sewing machine (which led me to be nominated for “Best Treasure Hunter” at Prom, haha), and appreciated that this was a part of the conference. It was nice seeing trend-setters talking about how you can gain a modern stylish look with well-made clothes from our past. The only session I was able to attend Sunday was Purchasing with Purpose led by Janette and Merl of Clyde’s Rebirth which continued this conversation of conscientious consumerism. I was so happy to have this part of the larger conversation, and will devote an entire future blog post to it. Here are some shots of our outing, and of the session with Merl & Janette.

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Holly goes on to say, “It’s not surprising that as a blog becomes more popular, its authenticity becomes more circumscribed. And for bloggers with an eye on leveraging their work into bigger, more mainstream venues, the balance of professionalism with authenticity means less critical discussion, fewer acknowledgments of bad days or insecurities, and less humor. And because the lifestyle blogs that receive the most attention (and opportunities for more revenue) reflect the most limiting vision of traditional femininity (conventionally attractive, straight, happy white women with beautiful homes, playful children, and quirky recipes), it isn’t surprising that this formula tends to be the most emulated one within the world of lifestyle blogging.” I wonder how authentic the bloggers at the conference were, and I never really got to find out. There seemed a large disconnect between the power bloggers and the rest of us, but the bloggers that I met were really genuine. Here is a snapshot of some of us at lunch, and of course everyone was on their phones tweeting, blogging, texting, instagramming, and whatever else. It was quite comical, and yet really nice to meet other women and hear about what they do. My favorite was Hilary from Our Style Stories (pictured on the left in the middle). She was so sweet and told the story of how her car broke down on the way to Austin. I loved her style, her personality, her genuineness, and I am totally going to start reading her blog! This peer to peer contact was the most useful for me, and I wish I had dedicated more time to reaching out to other conference attendees.

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I’ve been back in Houston and at the shop this week and lots of people have asked me about the trip and the conference. I stumble through the good and the bad, because I think it is important for me to communicate how I feel about it all. Will there always be a disconnect for me? I own a craft studio, started blogging, and do have an interest in the resurgence of domesticity that lends itself to this life of making and baking and taking notes on how to raise an independent child. But I am a late twenty-something, “childless and overeducated” female, and it would be silly of me to compare my life to these heavily mediated and “carefully arranged” lives you see on these blogs. But the basic message seems to be to enjoy the small beauties in life, to embrace womanhood and motherhood, and I am down with that. In fact I think it is quite lovely. In a 2011 Salon article, writer Emily Matchar describes this mood as “very romantic, soft-focused, aesthetically pleasing images of home life, that is very DIY, very home-oriented and nostalgic.” And I agree with Emily, there IS something vaguely uplifting about these blogs. I have a lot of respect for women who can portray this life, that counters the tough work-life balance the rest of up seem to be struggling with. So as I am falling a little in love with these well put-together women we get to the Sunday convocation by Elsie and Emma from A Beautiful Mess and their “What We’ve Learned from Blogging” speech.  I like these girls, and think what they do for a living is pretty dan gum awesome (and there are a lot of connections, they own a small boutique, online store, etc). But then it happened. Elsie suggested an example of getting over a hurdle was trying on a color you didn’t think you looked good in. I was hoping for a little financial distress, a death in the family, even a spat with a sponsor, anything worthy of “a major obstacle.” not “I don’t think I look good in chartreuse.” [Insert disconnect.] But I did get to see behind the veil a bit, and understand that these women are not trying to make it seem like they live larger than life in fabulous attire with perfectly coifed hair. They have just been good enough at it to get noticed, and now get paid for it. That’s great. I think women should look to these blogs for inspiration, book recommendations, recipes, whatever, but not get caught up in comparing their lives with what is portrayed in the these blogs. I would also encourage bloggers, especially the power players, and especially at conferences, to keep in mind their authenticity and letting their walls down a bit. I will definitely attend again next year, and I have a better sense of what to expect. I enjoyed talking about my brand and the shop, and did learn that personal style is an extension of you. I also learned that I can only do what I can with what I have, and that is okay! I think the topic of authenticity should be one of the sessions next year; I think it is something all brands, bloggers, and businesses all need to revisit continuously.

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Deciding to “Ride METRO” in Houston

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The shop sits right at the Ensemble/HCC Rail stop

I wrote the following post back in July of 2012:

After visiting METRO headquarters for a work meeting, something has been bothering me. Why have I never considered riding the bus? My husband and I are thrilled that the new rail will be heading down South Main close to our home, but why is the bus different? Why do I not have a public transportation card after I have visited so many cities around the world where that is the first thing I obtain? I have spent the last couple of weeks watching the inhabitants of the bus shelters try to alleviate the heat, stay occupied, and plan their next stop. I wonder where they are going and why they are taking the bus, what they do for a living, how often they ride.

I think it is interesting that METRO’s web site is RIDEMETRO.com. They want to be accessible and increase ridership, but how do you lift such a heavy stigma? Why is there even a stigma in the first place, and why have I not seen right through it? I have been researching METRO’s General Mobility Program for work; METRO serves 5 1/2 million riders (as of January 2012), and I am pressed to dig up enough excuses to not increase METRO’s bus ridership by 1. The biggest concern for me is that it is slow and inconvenient (I would have to WALK to the nearest bus shelter and wait in the Houston heat). I am also going to be honest; I am concerned about safety. METRO has tried to answer that concern with their “Bus Safe” program where undercover police officers and TSA agents ride on buses around the city which was announced by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson in April. I am not sold, but I am wanting to try and see for myself what the atmosphere, convenience, and overall experience is like.

So I turned to www.ridemetro.org to see exactly which routes I could take to work and how long it would take. My office is 9.4 miles from my house and it takes me around 12-15 minutes to drive there each day. After perusing the web site, METRO’s “Plan your Trip” site claimed there was not a stop .5 miles near my start location and I was having a hard time piecing a route together, so I turned to Google: 1 hour and 7 minutes according to Goggle Transit. Yikes.

Directions: Walk .4 miles to the nearest bus stop, which I pass every day in my car. That bus route is numbered 33 and it runs through Bellaire. According to Google, I will travel through 34 stops in 28 minutes until I have to change buses at Richmond Ave. and McCue Road. From there I wait for the #25 bus then travel west on Richmond Ave. through another 26 stops which should take around 16 minutes. Then I walk the .2 miles to my office.

For the return route, Google gave me two options, and I was pumped. I could go back on the same route, but decided to look at the slightly longer route for a different view. After writing it down, I realized I did not put in the time, and Google put in the current time (which was around 8pm). When I put in 3pm, the time I was planning on leaving work, the route changed, extending the trip by 2-4 minutes. For this time, I had 3 choices, one that was the same from before, but 2 new routes. I chose the shortest route (in estimated time) which should take around 1 hour and 10 minutes. Because the stop was scheduled at 3:29pm, that gave me a little more wiggle room when leaving work.

Directions: Walk to .2 miles back to the bus stop on Richmond (at Mandell). From there I will get on the 3:28pm #25 bus towards Sharpstown that travels west on Richmond Ave. 7 minutes, 7 stops. I will get off at Kirby, then get on bus #18 that heads south on Kirby towards Reliant Stadium at 3:45pm. I get off at Old Spanish Trail after riding for approximately 16 minutes and 22 stops. From there I walk to Main St. to get on the #10 bus heading towards Willowbend. After 17 minutes and 24 stops, I will end up at a bus stop .6 miles from my house.

It sounded like a solid plan, and I was ready to try it. And yet, as I was writing this, the Mister walked in and asked what time the class was that I am teaching in the evening that same day. I cringed. I had forgotten about this addition to my day, and worried that I could not make it in time (5:30pm). If I got dropped off at the last stop at 4:26pm, then have to walk home .6 miles, I may not have enough time to shower and clean up and then go right back out the door. Obviously I could ride the bus there, but then I would have to take the bus back after 10pm (safety concerns still lingering.) I also planned on getting up and running at 7am, giving me plenty of time to shower and be at work by 9. If I ride the bus, I would have to wait until after work, which could still not happen because I have to be at the college campus by 5:30pm.

SO, I will not be riding the bus tomorrow. I do feel like I have legitimate excuses–2.5 extra hours taken from my day presents a challenge.