Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tourists? You slander us!

Who us, tourists? Why, whatever do you mean?

We totally stayed away from the touristy stuff.

Played it cool.

Well, okay . . .

Maybe not.

But, dude. It's London.

The secret is: nobody is cool enough for London.

They're all just pretending.

(See the sign above? It would actually make a good story if you got bitten by the horse guard horse! Better after the fact than in the moment, surely :-)

Such a short trip. I tend to be the travel planner between us, and I had a kind of desperate feeling, knowing how little time we had, wanting us to have a good taste of the city. Also, wanting to spend time with my publishers and with my dear friend Lori, who came over from Amsterdam with her wee one, Fletcher, almost one year old, and her husband Maarten.

Lori and I were inseparable in high school. Then college happened, and we were a couple of hours apart, and then she up and falls in love with a Dutch guy and skedaddles out of the country. An outrage! She's been in Holland for, oh, at least fifteen years now. 

Europeans. You know what Europeans can do? They can, like, decide to go to Naples for the weekend just to eat pizza. Lori and Maarten did that. They also went to Spain for a meal one time. At El Bulli, no less. Their latest European antics, though, happened today, and makes me very very jealous. They drove to France to buy some Tolix chairs.

Tolix chairs! Blue no less!

And it's all my fault. In London we ate at this cool restaurant that had them, and I remarked on them. Here is Clementine becoming one with one:

And I guess the next day they saw some while shopping and thought, "Hey, let's make Laini jealous!" ha ha. No. Fair enough. But I want pictures. Pictures! Shouldn't be a problem, as Lori is an amazing photographer. She took this, though I messed about with it a bit. Just couldn't let photos well enough alone tonight. 

photo by Lori; altered by me

More London next time, but first, look closely at the below photo. Funny!

(Also, I love how my hair pops in that picture :-)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The US ARC of Daughter is here!!!

Wheeeeeeee! Look what arrived in my mailbox today!

A beautiful shiny new ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone,
the US edition from the fabulous Little, Brown.


I have been petting and whispering to it, opening up here and there to read a bit.

Also, it is making friends with its British cousin

They were shy at first, but now they're all:

"You're beautiful."

"No, you're beautiful."

"No, you."

In other news, I cannot stop with the Hipstamatic. It is a mania. Isn't this so pretty?

We went to a six-year-old friend's art opening tonight at a gelato parlor. 

We bought an $8 work ("crayon on paper") entitled "Rain Falling on Monster Island."

Clementine went incognito.

Seriously. She kept her mask on the whole time.

Was revealed only later, in front of her very own bistro.

Yay for books and artists and gelato and wee superheroes!

(The evening may also have involved pizza. And, um, donut holes. What?)

Why, what does YOUR toddler read?

So, Clementine likes Dragon Puncher. Don't know Dragon Puncher? It is a highly silly James Kochalka book from awesome Top Shelf Comics. It has dragon-punching in it, and a butterfly *might* get tocked by a wooden spoon, but it's pretty mild violence. It's graphic-novel format, and I wouldn't say Clementine always makes it to the end, but she does get pretty excited about the superhero kitty.

(Below, Clementine does not actually have a black eye. That is just Hipstamatic "atmosphere.")

Clementine's current favorite books would have to be:

1. As of today, a smash fave:

by Lisa Wheeler, illus. R. Gregory Christie

Jim picked this up today, and when I got home from writing, he and Clementine were on their fifth reading in a row. As soon as she spied the last page, she would demand, "Again!" This happened again at naptime, and again at bedtime, leading to a total of some twenty readings today! That's never happened before, though she does love the below too, with art by the same illustrator. Both are wonderful jazzy read-alouds.

by Muriel Harris Weinstein, illus. R. Gregory Christie

Her other current faves are any and all of Jane Yolen and Mark Teague's
dinosaur books, of which these are a few:

And all of David Shannon's No David books:

Totally great.

What are your kids reading?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What the Sunbeams Saw

Work goes well on the new [old] house, but there is a fair bit yet to do. Our contractor is a long-time friend, and I will post about him some time soon because he is amazing, and not just when it comes to renovating houses. He is crazy-imaginative and also young at heart (as well as simply being young), which, coupled with technical prowess and lots of tools, makes for some seriously cool projects involving costumes, puppetry, and special effects! 

He is also, according to Clementine, a secret avocado. That is, whenever she sees avocados, in print ads, in bins at the store (even in London), she points and, with great confidence, declares them to be "Tyler!" Maybe she knows something we don't?

Anyway, I don't get over to the house that often to check out the progress, but I did go a few days ago, when a stray sunbeam or two made their way through the windows. This is what the sunbeams saw.

Camellia blossom confetti on the walk.

Windows ready to paint.

Happy new glass.

Dapper sun squares.

Sigh. I love it so.

The real fun, of course, is in befores and afters. I don't have any "afters" yet, 
but I do have some striking "durings." For examples, the bathroom remodel:


(teensy and ill-proportioned and not user-friendly)

We've never done a bathroom before. This is the height of luxury! We took out a wall to open things up (and when I say "we," I mean Tyler.) Below is the same exact vantage point as above, amazingly. It doesn't look even close to being the same room! We subtracted a window and added a skylight.


Such fun picking out sinks and tile! For a vanity we chose an antique Asian sideboard from Cargo; everything looks really dark in the above Hipstaprint, but here it is in its natural habitat. You can see the color better, and also the true color of the tile sample I brought with. (Also, we sawed off the legs, again "we" being Tyler, and sawed up the top to accommodate sinks. Sinks, plural, oh happy day!)

I love tile and have never picked it out for anything before. It was scary, but we found some we loved at a very good price.

7-inch terracotta on the floor, and 1-inch white hexagons for the shower and backsplash and stuff.

Yet to come: shower doors, all knobs and spouts and, importantly: the toilet and tub!

This room is going to be soooo awesome I can't even stand it!

* * *

Next, my writing room. You may recall the bright yellow converted sun porch.


It was already cute, but not at all weather-proof. Brrr. Tyler has completely rebuilt it. 


New windows, walls, trim and ledges, and brand new wood floors! Now it is cozy and looks like a room, instead of a cheery afterthought. 

 * * *

Lastly for today, this is a detail, but a good one.

In both the living room and dining rooms, there is a support beam.

The dining room one is substantial and beautiful:

The living room one, not so much.
It was all stingy and narrow, uninteresting and ugly knotty pine.



We asked Tyler if he could trick it out to look like the other one. He said yes.

And look how much better! (Plus which, farewell wallpaper!)


It will be painted white, so all the elements will blend.

White paint. Ah, we have a stockpile laid in. We are going against our previous design style entirely and painting the entire interior white (and in this case, when I say "we," I mean Jim.) There will still be a lot of color, just not as wall color. If we don't like it, we can change it later, but I think we will like it. Months back, when we were househunting, I started pulling images off design blogs into a desktop folder. I posted some on my old blog, and seeing them all together I noticed, to my surprise, that what they mostly had in common was white walls! That's what planted the seed for me. For Jim, it was a combination of places we saw while traveling, including Dar Beida in Essaouira, and the villa in Positano, all whitey-white-white.

So that's where we are now. Maybe a month to go? April, my plan for you is a rip-roaring writing month and no house distractions! Think we can do that?

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