About toni

Gave out fun little monster bags — handcrafted for Halloween. We had a great time handing them out to all the little trick or treaters, although I did have to barricade the intruder early warning system (the dog, Mr. Gumby) into the living room.

 

My Pumpking Candy Cane Karate Kid, and other favorite decorations.

My Pumpking Candy Cane Karate Kid, and other favorite decorations.

in honor of Halloween, and my favorite witch, Elphaba from Wicked I will share a song that it so ridiculously timed for my life soundtrack right now:

For Good:

(Elphaba):
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend…
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant world
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
(Glinda):
Because I knew you
(Both):
I have been changed for good
(Elphaba):
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I’ve done you blame me for
(Glinda):
But then, I guess we know
There’s blame to share
(Both):
And none of it seems to matter anymore

And kids, in a pinch, never purchase dollar store fake cobwebs. Ever. Let’s just leave it at your imagination as to what happened, and hope there is never a YouTube video.


happy dog dreams

happy dog dreams

It has recently come to my attention that I am very happy living in the little shack of horrors. In case you didn’t know, last year I emerged from a 9 year relationship in which we lived together for about 8 years. owning property together and all.  I’ve decided to explain why I love living alone, in case others have been lucky enough to take upon this lifestyle choice.

1. You can sing while washing the dishes and nobody judges. Except maybe my dog, who does have a habit of running under the bed when I hit high notes. I never said I was a good singer.

2. The refrigerator science experiments have ended. Oftentimes, other people leave gelatinous objects in the fridge called leftovers and then neglect to clean out said refrigerator. This is no longer a problem for me, nor am I forced to clean IKEA plastic tubs of the most vile secretions known to man. The leftover food is normally eaten within a day or two, or if Gumby gets lucky, he gets to finish the leftovers.

3. Non-judgy TV time. If I decide to spend way too many hours watching the National Geographic channel, nobody judges the amount of bad television that I ingest. likewise, you can always watch what you want and never have to appease the crowd. On all the televisions too! ALL THE TVS ARE MINE!

4. Saturday morning sleep! You never hear anyone else banging upon the kitchen way too early on weekend mornings. Occasionally the dog will bark at people walking by with suspicious canines, but for the most part, he’s on his back dreaming happy dog dreams.

5. Bathroom cleaning is so much easier with just one person.  Of course, I do have to remove the dog who likes to sleep right between the path from the door to the toilet, but turning on a faucet makes him run for the couch, out of misplaced bath anxiety.

6. Trader Joe’s is really for single people. Want a five star Indian meal? Trader Joe’s delivers the best and somewhat healthy food to your dinner table in seconds. I just need to wean myself away from the Powerberries candy, which I suspect may be laced with opiates.

7. You can have full on conversations with yourself, and nobody will notice. When I write copy for work, i find that I tend to correct mistakes much better if I stop and read the paragraphs and sentences out loud. This can be disconcerting for housemates. Accents are always optional in this endeavor.

8. Gaming time is whenever I want it to be. If I want to run a dungeon in Tyria on a Saturday night with other like minded geeks, I am not hassled by leaving the house for social plans, which invariably consisted of me standing around awkwardly trying to figure out conversation paths.

9. Crackers, hummus and cheese can be construed as dinner. Similarly, Nutella can be used in place of anything.

10. It is very peaceful. I no longer have to cope or care for other’s moods, feelings or arguments over stupid things like remotes, leftover science experiments, and snoring. The dog may need some petting after dinner and stuffed squirrel play time, but there are no raised voices or hurt feelings. Occasionally one may get a paw to the face, but that is an acceptable risk to living alone.

 

 

 


Oh hi there — I’ve moved into the little shack of horrors. I’ve been making it a little shack of creation as of late. First of all, I work for an amazing company called Creative Habitat, and I happily put some of my paycheck back into the amazing products they carry. Especially the paper. I love and hoard fine paper, and they do have the best selection. If I ever dare to step into a competitors store, I am frequently amazed by the low quality paper they carry. But I digress in my love for all things paper.

tiny bubbles!

tiny bubbles! It was probably in a kid’s room, but the kid too, may have a paper addiction.

Anyway, the other day I came across this in some’s discard pile (ok, the trash). I found the size quite perfect for my printer and phone stand next to my desk. Currently I’m using an improperly assembled Ikea drawer thing that I pimped out with some 1970′s era Contact Paper, and the overloaded drawer keeps breaking — the paper addiction, it has bad consequences for office furniture.

So I threw them in the back of my car and drove around for a week or two with them in my car because I was far too lazy to take them in. That and I knew I had to clean them, and I had been busy with other things.

Anyway, a few weekends ago,  I removed the paper circle stickers, sanded it down, and spray painted with a dark brown spray paint that was a primer in one. I also  reattached the flapping back with some tiny nails.  Of course, this was not without mishap. I was happily emptying about two cans of dark brown paint onto the shelves when I realized that I had gotten a quite a tan on my legs. Since I was wearing flip-flops and capris while spray painting (never a good idea) I had managed to give a spray tan on the lower half of my body.   That great paint that’s primer and paint in one? Not so easy to remove, I must say.

So anyway, this past week I have been working at night to finally finish my idea for these shelves. I took some Mod Podge (Hard Coat) and a stack of Tim Holtz Paper Pad, which had various 1880 travel and Victorian error patterns of writings and receipts, and applied the paper to the shelves. I’m pretty happy with how they came out:

after

photoafterNot too bad for my first furniture project?


So we have come to a point in the house where all the cabinets are assembled, the floors are laid down and the plumbing is set up — but we are putting the final touches on electricity and well hot water. Both are essential to moving into the little shack of horrors. I wanted to wait to post final final photos so you could see it finally.

I spent last night in search of a couch. First, a tale of couches. I had for years a comfy green sofa that was very easy to fall asleep watching television It showed it age, and had kids and dogs jumping on it so it was retired for an IKEA couch, which, I do love me some MDF and particle-board constructed cabinets and furniture, but anything that involve foam, well, the Swedes don’t hit the target in my opinion. The couch we did own, well, it did not support your neck, so you’d fall asleep with your neck hanging back over the edge. Very uncomfortable. And the dark blue color gave me hives. It was a particularly virulent shade of bluish navy. Gave one bad flashbacks to catholic school uniforms.  But I digress from the situation at hand.. my search for a new couch….

I had the walls painted  a nice silvery color to complement my black and white photography. I did not want either a beige or chocolate sofa. I was hoping for either black, gray or red. (You know you are a graphic designer when color becomes first priority).  I decided to hit a very well known furniture store in Rhode Island. Oh god, oh god the horror.. Two hours later, I escaped the clutches of a high powered sale assistant named Susan. She tried to steer me towards every couch in there, even though I kept throwing out more and more bizarre yet strangely creative answers to the questions.

Reclining *Powered* (by what I wonder, a battery pack? I really don’t want to have to plug in a sofa in addition to my computers, TV and assorted lamps) Sofa: ”I don’t like the loss of control over my chair movements, plus, my dog would bark it.” I sounded like crazy level one.

Microfiber Sofa with Ottoman: It’s beige. I don’t like beige. Gives me strange thoughts. Crazy level two achieved.

Giant Sectional: “It’s a really small house. I have to have room for my three computers in the same room.” Crazy level three achieved. (This is true actually, and its not counting my iPad).

Small Leather Sofa: “My dog has really long talons.”  I make clawing motions with my hand. She looks a little frightened, but Susan, bless her heart sticks with a potential sale.

Giant fluffy couch with cushion explosions:  ”The pillows would shift about and drive me insane. Plus, you know, I’d spend all day rearranging them.” In the meantime, I spy a gorgeous turquoise leather chair and begin to stroke it. She then tries to sell me chairs, but I finally just take pity and tell her that I’ll be back, and walk out.

I discover at the next store telling them you left your cell phone in the car is a great idea. Finally, I make my way to Bob’s Discount Furniture, which I like the name I must say, even though the photo of a rendered 3D Bob is kinda creepy. And what CEO gets his photo taken in ratty sneakers? I suppose if he’s not making much money… but anyway, they have a clearance pit, which I wander in past the levels of cushion explosion beige and chocolate sofas, and see it. Charcoal gray, with a chaise lounge that my dog would approve of (and half off). They are discontinuing this line of perfectly beautiful, modern and plain lined sofa, and it was the floor model. The extra pillows are pretty awful, I suspect the designer may have had an off day in the world of fabric design, but that can be easily fixed.

Couch achieved. The best part? Someone else tried to buy it as I was swiping my card to purchase.

seriously, who designed the blue and beige zebra print pillows and WHY?

seriously, who designed the blue and beige zebra print pillows and why would you commit such a crime against the fabric arts?

 

 

 


I have had some distressing news in the past few days.

I keep holding on to a quote from Henry James, from this letter:

We all live together, and those of us who love and know, live so most. We help each other—even unconsciously, each in our own effort, we lighten the effort of others, we contribute to the sum of success, make it possible for others to live. Sorrow comes in great waves—no one can know that better than you—but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return; and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see.

added note:

I left Vermont in January and have been working on rebuilding a shack to a new home. Its been a very long journey and I have said goodbye to the family that I built there. The relationship was broken, perhaps irrevocably from the beginning with long traditions of mistrust and jealousy, compounded with both living in a place were trying to fit in, together and alone was pegging a round hole into a square peg.

But thats the thing about family — some you create, some you are born into. When crisis strikes, all of the fears and misgivings fall away and you are left with strong bonds still there.  My ex is undergoing a health crisis, and no matter what happened between us, I still have this overwhelming urge to run up and give him a hug. All of my anger has disappeared, overnight, and what is replaced is a desperate desire for things to work out for him, and for his future.

 




  1. Go on a time when most people would not, say 7pm on a Friday night or 9am Monday morning. Do not, I repeat attempt to talk to the kitchen designer staff on a Saturday or Sunday. Poking hot poison filled needles into eyeballs is better than the madhouse scene that is a Saturday at IKEA. Friday mornings are apparently a prime time as well.
  2. Research and poke around looking at the kitchens you really like. Don’t expect someone to show you each individual ones. Or have other people waiting for the designers to be free want to throw you into a wardrobe and lock the doors.
  3. Don’t sit down with your private interior designer and Ikea coffee in the middle of the kitchen planning computers and spend 3 hours obsessing over every detail of your $7,000 kitchen. If you can afford to hire a private designer, why are you at IKEA? It will make your neighboring kitchen planners envision throwing you into a GRUNDAL shelving system.
  4. Pack a lunch, or eat first, you’ll be waiting awhile.
  5. Remember that your house may not have any numbers, so look foolish attempting to explain that its a really a house, but there are no numbers for delivery, then just explain you’ll have a sign.
  6. Note that if you order custom countertops, the price will jump considerably. Go back to the IKEA countertops.
  7. Realize that you’ll have to assemble the 65 boxes that are coming in five days.
  8. Panic about the 65 boxes that are coming in five days.
  9. Make a choice about the knobs, because you’ll have to drill holes for all of the them. If its too much of  decision, wonder if you really need them anyway, envision macguvering handles from duct tape.
  10. Debate about the knobs.
  11. Go back to Ikea and look at knobs. Panic about the cabinets that are coming in three days.
  12. Rinse and repeat.

 


photo (1)So the only part about ripping out all of the walls, floors, shingles, bathroom, kitchen, appliances, electrical, insulation and more is that you have quite a bit of trash collected up. This weekend was gorgeous, so we set to work cleaning up the yard as best we could. We have one dumpster completely filled and the second one is standing empty for more trash. The house is getting ready for vinyl siding, as you can see by the photo above.

My dog has been helping, as we have discovered an extensive network of groundhog burrows throughout the yard. They have no fear of us, and calmly walk about their business in the middle of the construction zone, content in their yearly forecasting lies. Gumby is now on groundhog patrol 24/7.

photo (2)


photo (3)

Got back from a business trip and my brother-in-law and brothers had been so busy patching and mudding the drywall.  they also replaced the very bowing front columns.

I went to Vermont for work this week, and I had a great time connecting with friends and co-workers.

The only flaw in the plan was that my little tiny city car hit a deep rut in the VERY MUDDY roads of the mountainside where I was staying. I own a Toyota Matrix, and while I usually love my car, they have all of these cheap plastic bumpers that make the car apparently more stylish. Yeah. Anyway, they have a habit of disconnecting when I connect with curbs, mountain roads and the occasionally misplaced snowbanks. Usually they pop right in, but this time, I could not get them to snap back in. Finally I checked the underside and there was clumps of mud clinging to the bumper weighing it down. After I made some sort of trowel like structure with my hands to unearth the giant clumps, I was able to snap the bumper back in place.