Monday, September 10, 2012


My ability to string words together to form cohesive, persuasive, thoughtful or interesting sentences begins & ends on the keyboard (or with a pen & paper in hand, if you want to get old school!), and this was never as painfully obvious to me as it was tonight.  You see, I live in a neighborhood that was recently thrust into the midst of controversy based on a piece of art that was painted on a wall bordering our neighborhood.  I won't go into all the logistics of the art or the group behind it because that's not what's weighing heavy on my mind.  What's on my mind is my glaring inability to articulate my thoughts in front of a crowd of folks when I know I have things to say!  I'm sure it's likely some sort of social or public speaking anxiety, but regardless, it was a rather untimely affliction tonight at our neighborhood meeting to discuss, among other things, said art piece.  First, I'll let the art speak for itself.  Then, I'll decompress and just say a few things about the art that I couldn't get outta my mouth tonight.  And then, well hopefully I can just let it go!!

Here is the art piece located on private property at the corner of McDonough Boulevard and Sawtell Avenue in Atlanta, GA and painted by the street artist Hyuro (who may I just take a moment to mention is not a resident of our community or even our country- she is Argentinian born and lives in Spain.  If you want more info or background- Google.)

A before:

(source, Google maps)

And after:

(source, East Atlanta Patch)


So there's the art.  It's hard to get good pictures of it because it's a very large scale piece with, I believe, 30ish different poses of the same woman- starting nude, then putting on a black "suit" of fur, then taking off the suit and dropping it at her feet, then nude again but now the "suit" turns into a dog/wolf by her side.  I've heard it explained that the meaning behind the piece was that the woman was shedding her "animal" side.  And as with any art form, it's open to a million different interpretations.

And now my thoughts.  I like art.  I have art in my home.  I've made art for my home and for others homes.  I believe in the value of art.  I think it's a shame when I hear schools cutting budgets and thus cutting down on art.  But, I don't believe art gets a free pass because it's Art.  If anything, I think art carries a larger responsibility because it's art.  I don't think that folks get to paint whatever they want and then say, "hey, don't ask me to be accountable for that, it's ART".  I also don't think it's the "job" of art to make people think, to make people uncomfortable or to push people's boundaries.  I just don't "get" that side of the art argument.  It sounds like a cop-out to me, a way to shirk responsibility for what you've created.  "Oh, that painting of a baby that I then splattered red paint all over that looks eerily like blood?  I was trying to make you THINK".  Uh, what??  When folks start talking this way, it just makes me feel uncomfortable, inadequate, and not smart enough because I don't "get it" the way THEY "get it", and I think that's their whole point.  I'm smart and you're dumb cause you don't understand that this is ART.  It's like when you were in high school English class and you're trying to translate some old poetry and you're supposed to understand that flowers stood for hope, and birds for peace or whatever.  If you want to get into artistic expression that deeply, okay.  But sometimes a bird IS just a bird and sometimes a flower IS just a flower, and oftentimes I wonder if the original creator just painted a bird or wrote about a flower because they simply LIKED that item, and not because of all sorts of inferred or hidden meanings.  Did all this really get started because some folks that were way too smart for their own good and had way too much time on their hands decided to psychoanalyze things to within an inch of their life??

But I suppose I got off on a tangent there.  Aesthetically, this art doesn't appeal to me in any sense.  I don't like the colors, I don't like the style, I don't like the content.  I would never put this art in my home or buy it for someone for their home.  And that's because I react with art visually.  I know what I find to be visually appealing, and this isn't it.  But that also isn't why I don't want this art on that wall.

I'm a mom now.  And once I became a mom, my outlook changed about everything.  And not just for my daughter, but for all children.  I can't say how I would have felt about that art being on this wall before I was a mom, because I'm not that person anymore.  But I can say how I feel about it now, and I think it's way out of line.  This isn't an art museum where you have paid to look at art and realize you may come across nudity.  This isn't a TV in your home where you may flip through the channels and land on Showtime where breasts are sometimes shown.  This isn't the internet where you may do a Google search of "pictures of breasts" and see what comes up.  No, all of those above scenarios involve a CHOICE about the content you witness, and a CHOICE about your reaction to it.  But this wall is adjacent to a public street where school buses and daycare buses and folks trying to drive to places of worship (church or mosque) or people just living their lives have no CHOICE about seeing it.  They have no choice about whether their child sees it.  And worse, if their child is on a school bus unsupervised, they have no CHOICE about how the children on the bus perceive and react to it.  There may be parents out there that have no idea their child even rides by this piece every day!  And that is not okay with me.

In a perfect world, all of our children would have been taught from the time they were wee ones to respect each other.  To respect their own and others bodies.  To not be ashamed of their body, with or without clothes.  To love and hold sacred the beautiful and varying bodies that we were all given.  But this isn't a perfect world, and there are plenty of parents out there who aren't teaching this to our children.  Who aren't holding their hands and guiding them through life and teaching them right and wrong.  And so we end up with children, on a bus, without their parents, who may be taunted, may be assaulted, may be ridiculed, may be talked down to, may be forced to put up with things no kid should have to endure, because their bus got to drive by a naked lady on a wall every. single. day.

Now I should qualify this by saying I am a person who was tormented and teased and bullied and assaulted on a bus for many years, and we never drove by naked women on a wall.  I was just an easy target for whatever myriad of reasons.  So I'm not saying this may not already be happening irregardless of a painting on a wall.  But what I am saying, is that as parents, we have a responsibility and a right to filter the things our children see in public places.  We have a right to disagree with nipples and pubic hair being on public display, whether it's art or not.  And we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that the children in our community are learning to respect the girls and women they are growing up around, and not just seeing them as a naked lady on a wall.

And that, folks, is what I wish came out of my mouth at our neighborhood meeting tonight, instead of stammering and long pauses and quick attempts at catching my breath.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the regularly scheduled programming of crafts and decorating and all things light-hearted.  I just had to get that off my mind.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Random Thoughts

Sorry for the lack of posts around here this week.  Like many other blogging mamas, I don't start my blogging until late in the evening after babygirl (and the hubs) are sound asleep.  It works great for a peaceful house and leaving me to my thoughts, but not so good for the terrible picture quality that comes when you take pics with a not-so-great camera in 100% artificial light.  Nonetheless, lack of posting is such a pet peeve for me with the daily blogs I read, so I will try to do better!!  For now, here are some thoughts and goings-on around here...

Apart from the tangle of cords & cables and just random junk on these shelves, I'm really trying to figure out a better solution than the current one you see to block the excess light that comes in during the day.  We have two of those windows in the family room, and the light & heat that come in during the day is ridiculous.  I attached some grasscloth-type material a while back, but as you can see there is a very visible seam, not to mention the adhesive I used isn't holding as tight as I had hoped.  So, I have an idea I'm going to try out soon...

I don't paint my nails too often, but one night this week I couldn't sleep, and so I got up and decided to do my nails.  It always relaxes me to clip & file & polish and just let my mind wander.  However, painting your nails before bed is the worst idea.  The shiny polished surface was anything but in the morning, and following a day of crafting with spray adhesive & spray gloss & hot-gluing, my nails all pretty much look like this.  So sad.

This is a sneak peek of a gift I'm making for a girlfriend of mine.  Excited to reveal it as soon as I give it to her this weekend.  And yes, part of that is the plastic top of a cd tower painted turquoise.  Awesome!

I'm participating in the Random Acts of Craftiness challenge over at His & Hers blog and our first challenge is to make something out of game pieces- eeek.  I found this stack of old school games at my new favorite thrift store today for only $3.23, so hopefully I'll find some inspiration in them!!

And speaking of my new favorite thrift store, I picked up this Peg Perego stroller as well for only $12.12 (what's with thrift store pricing?!).  I have to confess I have a bit of a stroller obsession.  As in, we now own 4 strollers.  And we have just one child, an 11 month old.  Should I confess we also had another two strollers which we've sold??  I know, I know, but let me explain...  When we found out we were expecting, a bunch of kind-hearted folks gave us their used baby gear.  Two different friends gave us strollers.  We sold one of them on Craigslist (yeah, we felt a little bad about that) and we kept the other one, which was actually two strollers.  One was part of the travel system with our baby carrier car seat, and the other was a proper stroller to use once she got bigger.  They both were great.  But as babygirl got bigger and we were using a stroller more often, we realized the benefits of umbrella strollers- they're light, they're compact, they're easier to maneuver.  So I began a search for an umbrella stroller and found a Jeep one at Goodwill for $7 bucks.  It was a great deal and in excellent shape.  But it was very basic and didn't have a basket underneath.  Around the same time my mom found an umbrella stroller at a garage sale with a basket underneath for $10 bucks- score!  So I sold the Jeep stroller in my mom's garage sale (for $10 bucks!) and we have been using the garage sale stroller.  Enter this Peg Perego.  As soon as I saw it at the thrift store I knew it was a great stroller.  Then I saw it was Peg Perego, and my suspicions were confirmed.  The hubs and I fully checked it out and it looked to be in perfect working order.  BUT.  Oh my Lord, this was the filthiest stroller I've ever seen in my life.  I have no idea what the previous owners were doing with this stroller, but it was N.A.S.T.Y!!!  I should have taken a before picture, but honestly, I couldn't bear to look at the filth!  When we got home the hubs put it on the back porch, and that's where it stayed until I was ready to tackle it.  I made quick work of stripping the canopy, seat cover and mesh basket underneath.  The hubs joked that I stripped that thing so quick & thoroughly I may have a future career in car-jacking.  We kid!  All pieces are in the washing machine with an extra dose of detergent, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a full restoration!  In the meantime I scrubbed the heck out of the frame, and even scrubbed the wheels, lol. 

Okay, update, I just took everything out of the washer and WOW, what a difference some soap made!  The canopy & mesh basket came out perfect.  The seat cover was almost 100%, but being a perfectionist, I decided to spot treat the only area where the stains didn't come out completely with a mixture of alcohol and liquid laundry detergent.  I scrubbed with a stiff brush and it appears the stains are totally gone!  I put it back in the washer for a quick rinse, so I will check again in just a few moments...

And here's the finished product!! So pleased with how well it washed up.  I'm never one to be afraid of a little dirt & grime, and you shouldn't be either!  Strollers can be a bit of a challenge to take apart, but they will always come apart & go back together again.  The same goes for pretty much everything- car seats, booster seats, swings, etc.  Babies & kids get things super grimy, but I haven't had any trouble getting grime out with some elbow grease & patience.  Hurray for a $200+ stroller for $12.12.  :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Another Gallery Wall Switcheroo

I've totally been meaning to change up and expand the family picture gallery corner in our family room.  Most of the pictures were mine from my previous (single) apartment living and I felt pretty bad about that!  The arrangement wasn't so hot, and the one wall just looked terrible thanks to the hubs grabbing a few nails (and a screw- I pulled it out of the wall today, that's a new one!) and haphazardly throwing some pics up on the wall one Saturday.  This is why he's not allowed to do unsupervised decorating.  LOL.

Painting the room was the perfect excuse to get started, along with a bunch of new frames I'd gotten for Christmas (last year!!).  There was also a frame that was brown, and I was going for all black frames, and white mats.  So I painted out the brown frame, changed up a few of the mats, and then added some new frames and switched up the arrangement.  Now don't be alarmed, there are a number of the frames that are still empty or sporting the generic pics that come with the frame, but I can only do one project at a time!!  Next up is printing out some more recent pics of the hubs & I and our families, and popping them in the frames.  But at least I've got a new arrangement going!

Here's the before:

And the after:

 So what do you think?  Much better, right?  And I only put a couple extra nail holes in the walls to get to that arrangement!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Tutorial: DIY Mosquito Repellent

Admittedly, I'm a little late in the season on this homemade bug spray- we've all been getting eaten alive for months now!  I've been meaning to try making my own spray after a friend told me she made some herself, and since we're planning to hold babygirl's first birthday party outside, I figured this was a great excuse to get on the ball!

I was in the neighborhood of a great little natural food store last week, so I decided to pick up a few essential oils for the spray.  I read about a million recipes online, and they all differ a little bit, but Citronella oil & Lemongrass oil seemed to be mainstays in lots of the recipes, so I went with them.  Peppermint & Lavender also showed up frequently, but peppermint came with warnings that it could burn the eyes, and with a little one planning to use it, I didn't want to take the chance.  Lavender seemed to be used mainly for its scent, and since I LOVE the smell of lemongrass, I decided to leave off the lavender.

Next up is witch hazel.  You can find it near the alcohol & peroxide at drug stores & grocery stores, and it's fairly cheap (the oils on the other hand, aren't!).  I picked up 2 bottles of the witch hazel & two spray bottles so I'd have lots of the bug spray.  If it works, I can see us using it all the time, and for a while it will just be at the cost of a bottle of witch hazel since the essential oils should last quite a while.

Now for the recipe.  I just synthesized a bunch of recipes I read online, so this isn't tried & true yet.  I'll get back to you on the results, or any changes I'd make.

Made in a 22 oz spray bottle:
1- 16 oz bottle of with hazel
3ish oz of boiled (and cooled) water (just to fill the bottle a bit more)
25 drops of citronella essential oil
25 drops of lemongrass essential oil

Add all ingredients to the spray bottle and shake well to mix, and then spray to keep the mosquitoes away!!   Be careful about spraying near your face- probably better to spray a bit on your hands and then dab on your face avoiding your mouth, nose & eyes.

I'm really hopeful this will work on the three of us, and I'm pretty sure we'll have occasion to test it when we do some yard work.  Our yard is terrible about bugs, and they seem to LOVE all three of us!!

*Update, the hubs is the only one to test the spray thus far, and he thought the bugs were still eating him alive.  Hmmm, not encouraging, but I want to test it myself before I make changes or give up on it!!

**Update, the whole family used the bug spray today while we worked out in the yard (well, babygirl supervised our work from her highchair) and I'm happy to report there was nary a bug bite!!!  It was my first time using the bug spray and I was pleased- the initial spray is very cooling and has a clean refreshing smell.  I just sprayed on my arms and legs and then rubbed it in a bit.  It dried fast and smelled great, but not overwhelming (and I noticed the smell faded, as in, you didn't feel like you were a walking lemongrass/citronella plant).  I then sprayed on my hands and rubbed onto babygirl's arms & legs.  The hubs got a spray down as well.  Mosquitoes and other little flying annoyances usually tear us up in the yard, but I didn't notice any at all (I did notice a giant black widow when I picked up a rock from the mulch, how the heck do you get rid of those damn things?!?).  We're going to try it out again tomorrow night when we have our neighborhood meeting in the park, so I'll see how it works again, but for now, I am a happy mama!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Weekend Update

I thought about saving this for tomorrow evening, since it's a 3-day weekend, but then decided what the heck, I'll post Sunday night as usual!

This has been another low-key weekend, getting things done around the house, and relaxing along the way.  I continued our painting from last weekend, and have pretty much finished up the downstairs (pics to come this week, promise!).  The hubs worked out in the yard, and babygirl did lots of driving around the house in her pink Jeep walker, "reading" the newspaper, and playing with an early birthday present- a stuffed dog that talks and moves its ears- she's obsessed!!  We also watched lots of college football on Saturday, and since babygirl had some practice cheering on Thursday when we went to the GSU game, she was very good at clapping and yelling, now we just need to work on her timing!

Of course I also worked on some house projects, including a homemade bug spray, tutorial to come.

I did a little shopping at one of my favorite fabric stores- I could spend ALL DAY in there, and am thinking about going back tomorrow!!  I saw a remnant that I debated getting for pillows, and now I can't get it out of my head!!  I adore that multi-colored chevron and wish it wasn't so heavy, or I'd snap it up to make a dress for babygirl.

I discovered a little nook I'd never seen before with all sorts of colorful ric-rac and trims.  Heaven!

While I was there I picked up a little remnant to work on a gift for a friend (so I'm only showing the teeniest sneak peek!) and this sample fabric "book" that was free!  I love their free bins, sometimes they have the coolest stuff.  I picked this up because these sample "pages" are the perfect size to make oatmeal container headband holders.  So excited!

I also made a stop at Goodwill and a few other shops and have supplies for some crafty ventures.  Can't wait to get started!  Actually, I couldn't wait, and have already gotten started, lol.  Pics & posts to come this week!

Happy Labor Day to everyone!!  We have tickets to the Braves game tomorrow afternoon- babygirl's first baseball game!  Just hoping the weather holds up and it's not too hot.  Maybe swimming tomorrow afternoon and grilling out, and of course I always try to squeeze in projects.  My kind of weekend!