Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A girl I used to know.



You may encounter many defeats, 

but you must not be defeated. 

In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, 

so you can know who you are, 

what you can rise from, 

how you can still come out of it. 


~ Maya Angelou ~



It had been an extra hot Summer in Seattle.  I was 19, living in the Bel Fiore apartments on Capitol Hill, working at The Cramp on Broadway and barely making ends meet. I was also 6 months pregnant with my daughter. We had a one bedroom apartment at the time, that we could barely afford, and my boyfriend and I had been on the rocks for a very long time. It was lack of money and options that was keeping us together at that point.  

I had started staying in the bedroom and he started staying in the living-room pretty much full time.  He had lost another job and would panhandle or steal money from me to buy his booze and drugs.  I started using a deadbolt on the bedroom door at night to keep him out, as he would get weird and loud when he was drunk and he was drunk pretty much all of the time then.  I was also trying hard to save money for the impending birth of my baby, so I had to hide that from him too. 
This is one of the only photos of me during that time.
I was at work in this photo. 
One extra hot evening, I had gone to bed early because I had worked a long shift and being pregnant was exhausting. It was super hot in the apartment, even with the windows opened, so I had decided to sleep naked in hopes to find a way to be mildly comfortable in the heat.  

Sometime in the middle of the night I heard his voice not far from my ear ranting about god and the devil and whatever drunken tortured goth ramblings he liked to go on about when he was so drunk he could not see straight.  As I started to wake up my first thought was, "Damn it! I forgot to lock the door before I fell asleep!" 

He continued to rant in my ear and drag me into consciousness. I was so exhausted, I did not want to speak, I remember I had waived my hand near my ear as if to shoo off a fly buzzing near your head in hopes that would signal him to leave me alone to sleep. 

The next thing I knew I felt impact and saw sparkles.  Then I felt it again and again. He had punched me three times, rapid fire, in the head, full force, right on my left ear/jaw joint to be exact.  It was weird, because it did not actually hurt at first.  It was more like a shock.  And I recall thinking in the moment, before I fully comprehended what was happening to me, how strange it was that I actually saw sparkles. I hopped to my feet really fast, probably too fast because I felt really dizzy and had trouble focusing or standing up at first.  

I was naked, so I knew I had to grab clothes and get out. That is what I was screaming in my head, "GRAB CLOTHES AND GET OUT RIGHT NOW! DO NOT LET HIM HURT THE BABY!" 

I ran to the closet, he started to approach me, I jumped into the closet and started talking fast.  It took me a minute to realize I was repeatedly apologizing.  The fight or flight instinct had taken over, and I knew that I needed to calm him down and get past him to get out the door.  Getting out that door was my one and only mission.  

I was saying to him in the smallest, girliest voice that I could muster, "I'm sorry. I'm so very sorry.  Whatever I did I'm so sorry. You are right, it is all my fault. I'm sorry."

He was yelling at me with words that did not make any sense. He was raging.  Making accusations at me, at my parents, calling me names.  Accusing me of taking a swing at him and he was only defending himself and that is why he had to do what he did. 

I just kept repeating, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. You are right. I'm sorry."

He was still between me and the exit.  

I was still naked but had managed to pull on underwear and my purple Doc Martin boots and I had a dress wadded up in my arms that I had grabbed from the closet. I felt something running down my neck.  That is when I reached up and realized there was blood coming out of my ear.  

It was still dark in the room, and he was still yelling at me, telling me I was, "Over-exaggerating like you always do".  Telling me I needed to "Stop fucking apologizing and calm down, I barely touched you!" 

He started to approach me again and I flipped on the light switch. What he saw made him freeze in his tracks. 

There I was, 19, pregnant with a small baby bump, in my purple boots and underwear and nothing else, with a stream of blood running from my ear all the way to my bellybutton.  I yelled, "LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID! LOOK AT WHAT YOU DID TO ME!  YOU DID THIS!!" 

He fell to his knees and started to cry.  He started to apologize and said he would call the police and tell them what he did.  I took this moment of weakness as a chance to get past him and get out the door.  

I ran for the door while he was still on his knees on the floor dramatically sobbing and begging for my forgiveness. I ran outside, onto Bellevue Ave, in only my boots and underwear, mostly naked, 19 and pregnant at 3AM with blood running out of my ear.  I pulled on my dress as I started walking to the house of a friend who lived on the other side of Capitol Hill. From there I went to the hospital.  I had x-rays, was told that the blood looked scary, but it was that he had created basically an impact cut in my ear canal when he hit me, they also said I may have a hairline fracture in my jaw that I should keep an eye on.  

I slept on my friend's couch and went to work the next day.  He showed up at my place of work at the end of my shift and met me outside with flowers. He was full of apologies and told me he had called the police on himself, but when they showed up and I was gone, so they said there wasn't anything they could do.  He said it was funny because they looked through all of the cupboards and stuff to make sure he did not have me hidden somewhere. 

"Hilarious." I thought. 

I remember the conversation was surreal.  We talked like it had happened in a movie we had seen, or it had happened years ago.  Like everything was normal.  A bruise had started forming on my jaw, and I was tired and sore but I did not have anywhere else to go and he was familiar  and seemed remorseful and I was young and stupid. So I walked home with him. 

Then I told him about my hospital visit and that the baby was OK, not that he had even asked.  That is when he told me the thing that made me decide I was going to leave and never look back.  

He looked me in the eye and said, "Michelle. There are 100 ways I could hit you and never hurt the baby."

I knew two things in that moment:  I knew I was going to leave, no matter what it took, and I knew that he would never know my daughter.  I had both of us to protect now. 

23 years have passed since that happened, and I will never forget what I learned that day. I did everything to protect my daughter from ever being exposed to him or men like him and she never was.  

The one thing he ever did for us that I was always grateful for was that he left us alone.  I made a deal with him that I would never go after him for child support as long as he promised to leave us alone.  He only wanted to see what she looked like after she was born.  He said I did not have to say who he was, he said he could "Be a clown in the background for all he cared" he was just curious to know if she looked like him at all.  We both kept our word for the most part.  
  
I did not share this story with my daughter until recently.  I did not want her growing up with my opinion of the man she shared genes with.  I made the decision that I would not talk about him unless she asked. The crazy thing is, she never really asked.  She did not even know his first name until she was 8, and then only asked for small details every now and then.  She knew she had siblings because of him, and I was close her sisters mom, so the girls grew up knowing they were sisters.  She eventually formed the opinion that she never wanted to know him or about him because as far as she was concerned, I gave her enough and she never felt like she was missing anything.  

The entire time she grew up, I always had a plan B in the back of my mind of how we would disappear if he ever showed up.  I always knew how/where we would escape to.  I lived the first part of her life without roots and ready to run if I ever needed to.  

I always knew where he was too.  Even when I was in Alaska and the internet was not a thing, I always found a way to keep tabs on his movements so that we could protect ourselves if he ever found his way back to where we were.  The possibility of him showing up one day was always in the back of my mind. 

He met my daughter only one time when she was a newborn.  I was in Seattle getting a tattoo.  I got word to him that I was in town, he had been staying with his sister so I thought he might be clean.  He came to the tattoo parlor while I was getting my tattoo and sat with us.  He seemed more rough around the edges than I had ever seen him before, had visible drug scars, and did not seem super interested beyond a curiosity if he could see any of himself in her newborn face.  In letting him meet her the one time, I was simply fulfilling my end of the deal that meant he would then leave us alone forever.  

The only time I heard from him after that was when my daughter was less than a year old. I got a voicemail from him.  He was hoping to borrow some money as he had lost his place and was needing a place to stay.  He had started using hard drugs and was living on the street at that time.  I did not pick up and never heard from him again.

The only other time I've seen him since I left him that day in Seattle, was when my daughter was 15.  I had relaxed more, I had stopped worrying about him ever showing up one day as so much time had passed.  I had stopped looking for him in every panhandlers face.  I felt confident he was keeping up his end of the bargain we had made and leaving us alone.  

I remember I was on Broadway shopping for school clothes with my daughter.  I had stepped out of the door of the shop, onto the street, literally running into a crusty punk looking homeless man wearing a giant back pack with a bed roll and who was looking behind him, over his shoulder, asking a passerby for spare change.  

I said, "Oh, I'm so sorry!" and he turned to look at me.  

It was him.  

He and I stood there for what was likely less than a few seconds but felt like minutes staring at each other.  He was older, wrinkled, dirty, and had the wind worn and sun toasted look of someone who had been sleeping outside for a very long time. 

Without thinking, with my leg I pushed the door shut behind me so my daughter would not walk out. Basically, shutting the door in her face.  

I saw the spark of recognition in his eye when our eyes met, but he wasn't able to place me at first.  But then I saw the moment he realized who I was, it was the exact moment I was involuntarily saying his name out loud.  

To my shock, he turned immediately and did a thing that still makes me giggle to this day... he started running away from me!  Leaving his travel companion standing in front of me looking wildly confused and then running after him.  

My daughter came out and asked me what that was all about.  I told her, "That homeless guy was your biological father." 

She looked down the street at the man in a backpack, running away from us in fear, shrugged and said, "Oh, that's super weird." 

And that was that.  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Art.Love.Miyazaki.

One of the beauties of buying your forever home is that you can take creative license with the design.  I joke about putting slides where there would be stairs, and painting whatever I want on the walls.  I'm lucky to have a husband and children who appreciate my art and were all for letting me do what I want in the "art on the walls" department.  (We are still in negotiation about these slides instead of stairs.)

All three of my kids can agree on one thing, they all love Hayao Miyazaki films.  When we first decorated the house, I had painted a giant robot on my son's door.  The 10 year old has been asking me to do some kind of mural on her wall or door as well.  It took me a while to figure out what would be just the perfect thing, when it hit me, TOTORO!!

So, when she was visiting her other house, I took to painting her door.  Needless to say, she was stoked.


This lead to my son asking me to paint something on his door.  I did not want to just paint any old trend of the moment.  I wanted it to be something that I knew we would all appreciate.  In the process of trying to decide what to paint in his room, I came across an image from Kiki's Delivery Service of JiJi on a broom and decided I wanted to paint that in the house.  My son liked it but not for his door.  I decided it would be perfect for the door of the kids bathroom in the basement.  We are eventually going to re-decorate that bathroom, but it is a ways off, so I thought a fun painting on the door would be a way to make it ours without too much work or expense for now.  So I did this:


As soon as I finished JiJi I made a joke that I was going to put No-Face from Spirited Away in a creepy unfinished corner of the storage room.  We all joked that would be both awesome and terrifying, so I went with it, and before I knew it, we had No-Face lurking in the basement:
Lurking in the shadows

No-Face with lights on for detail

And, since I was on a creative bender, I decided to add one more Miyazaki character.  We have a second fireplace in the playroom downstairs.  Given the fact it is the playroom, for safety, I did not want to use it for fire. Instead I put a mirror in the back and added battery operated candles.  I pulled out the mirror and painted a little  Calcifer from Howls Moving Castle:
Calcifer!!


I'm pretty sure Ponyo is next.  Just trying to figure out the perfect image and placement. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stairway to Heaven (AKA I FINALLY painted the ugly stairs!!)

We just celebrated our 1st anniversary of owning our house!  When we purchased the house, it had been divided into a duplex by walling up the stairs and breaking up the natural flow between floors. Creating a 3 bedroom apartment upstairs and a 2 bedroom apartment downstairs.

When I realized this, just after I had finished painting the fireplace, and saw light coming through from an unfinished part of the wall, I called Sean excitedly and said, "I'm going through that wall!!"

This is where I noticed the light coming through and I took this pic the moment I decided I was going through it!

This is when we went through the wall finally. Glad I waited for some help! 
After we took the wall down, it really opened up the space and suddenly the whole house floor plan made sense.  Re-opening that staircase really married the two stories and gave us one cohesive house instead of two separate apartments.  I was thrilled!  But I was not thrilled with the state of the stairs.  They had been hidden behind a narrow passageway, with no electricity for who knows how many years.  (I actually installed the lights and the switch myself after taking a Home Depot class).  So once it was opened up and there was light on it, it was clear how severely they needed a coat of paint.

I spent an evening painting the stairwell and even priming the stairs, but with kids and pets and a million other things needing to be done, the stair makeover ended at that point.  So for a year, the stairs have just been covered in primer, and being a high traffic area, turned a very nasty shade of dirty, no matter how much I swept and vacuumed them.

I had a house with no kids for a few hours today and decided I would just go for it, and finally get these things done!  I could not be more pleased with the results!

I chose a really high quality deck/patio paint in this color:
I painted both sides of the stairs in the same color as the walls, then I taped off the part that I was going to paint the Ocean Swell color.  I liked how it creates a runner look.  Initially I was going to do the entire stair a color, but after a lot of research I feel this was a more finished/polished look.

Here are my before/after shots:
I took the finished photo at nearly 1AM, and did not want to disturb the wet paint, that is why my paint rag is still at the bottom of the stairs. 

Before/After

My next project is to cover that gross tile at the bottom of the stairs with something amazing!! Stay tuned!

Friday, August 05, 2016

Happy Birthday to me!

I got the best and sweetest birthday gift ever this year!
A new baby that my son promptly name Yo-Kai Kitty!

Here he is investigating a sunflower from my garden:
OMG he is the cutest!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My DIY Vintage Dream Kitchen Remodel

In August (on my actual birthday) we purchased a lovely new house!!  It was built in 1954 and has so much Mid Century charm!  We are having the best DIY time remodeling it by ourselves.

Since it is a pretty big house, at some point over the years it was split into a duplex with a 2 bedroom downstairs and a 3 bedroom upstairs.  This means the house has TWO KITCHENS!! Yes, you heard me right.  TWO!!

With my darling husband being a master chef in the making and me being the queen of all things baked goods, we decided that we were going to keep both and have His and Hers kitchens.  The upstairs became my husbands modern dream kitchen with all of the new appliances and things to make all of his culinary dreams a reality.  My downstairs kitchen has become my vintage daydream, pet project, and pretty much favorite place to be. (My girlfriends say it looks like a kids playhouse, but everything works.)

This post is about my sweet little kitchen makeover from start to finish.

I will start with the initial before and after, because WOW! 
BEFORE
AFTER!! 
  The first thing I did was get rid of all of the old appliances and prime everything.
Before Primer
After Primer
At the same time I was searching all over Craigslist to find the perfect vintage stove.  It did not take me too long to find this beauty, that works perfectly and has been sitting in a lovely ladies storage for 20 some years.  Got if for a steal at $300!!
My new stove, sitting in storage waiting for me to take her home. 
Once I had the stove, I knew what my colors were going to be.  I was going to build the entire kitchen around the Aqua beauty!  I picked Teal, Pink and Yellow as the colors.

Teal, Pink and Yellow, with fancy silver drawer pulls!
I'm also using the same teal as an accent color through the downstairs and the connecting shelf.
Before and after shelf divider at kitchen entrance. Pretty new paint and cute *disco knobs.
(*Not really disco, but that is what I call them) 
At the entrance to the kitchen I wanted my own menu board, so I painted the side of this cupboard with chalkboard paint, and I turned a cute drawer pull upside-down to create a chalk holder.  Now Mamachelle's kitchen has a cool place to display all of the deliciousness being baked in there! 

After all of the painting was done, I pulled up the old beat up floor and installed a brand new one all on my own!  It was a process, but I feel like it was not too terribly hard.
My new floor!! 


Then I added some sweet details, and displayed my vintage collection of stuff and things.
Teeny Wonder Woman!! Eep!
Mr Chester Crumbs
Searched forever to find the perfect mini fridge to keep my milk and eggs.  I needed it to be the right color, but not cost a million dollars. Found this online for less than $200!



And here is the big after!  LOVE my kitchen!!






Thursday, November 26, 2015

You say Piecaken, I say Cherpumple...

Behold the Cherpumple!!



Otherwise known as the Turducken of Thanksgiving desserts.

Here we have 3 different pies baked into 3 different cakes, covered in buttercream, and topped with caramel and crumble.  I warned my guests that it was either going to be amazing or awful, but it was a challenge and I had to accept it.

Luckily, the consensus is that it was AMAZING!! (There is something for everyone!!)



Not sure I will ever make one again, but it sure was a lot of fun to give it a shot!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Happy 3rd Birthday Sean and Joia!


After one of the longest work weeks ever, and before moving all of my belongings from one house to another (Did I mention we bought a new house last month?) I thought I'd take a few hours to celebrate two amazing kids who were born on this day 3 years ago. 

Happiest birthday to My sweetest son, Sean and his favorite little bestie, Joia. Here are your cakes! 

Hello Kitty and fire truck! ( For Hello kitty I used this Wilton pan) The fire truck I made on top of the body of a truck I dismantled so Sean's cake could roll. It also has lights that light up! Happy birthday kids! Love you! xoxo

Friday, July 03, 2015

Beat the heat with Healthy Snow Cones! (Dye Free, Syrup free!)

One of my all time favorite things on a hot Summer day is a giant rainbow snow cone.  


Every time we pass the isle in the store with the machine, those cute little cups and the shelves of rainbow syrups, Sylvia begs me to buy them.  I love the idea of making them ourselves, but hate the idea of the amount of sugar the kids would be eating.
Today I got inspired in the store when I saw those cute little cone cups on sale.  I picked up 3 different healthy juices in bright colors and rushed home.
Ice to snow in a few seconds in my awesome Ninja!!  
(I'm sure you can use any kind of blender.) 




Pack it nicely in the cute snow cone cup. (I used a rounded measuring cup)

I used a straw to insert the color juices

The kids inhaled them!  They had no idea they were healthy!




SUCCESS!!





Saturday, June 06, 2015

The Dukes of Hazzard Birthday Cake

I was asked to make a Dukes of Hazzard cake for a 9 year old boy's birthday party this weekend.  I was SO excited for this challenge since I was a huge Dukes fan when I was a kid.  I didn't realize they were making a come back with the kids.  His mom already had the cars, and asked that I create something fun using them.

This is what I came up with.










It is chocolate cake with cherry filling, fudge and buttercream frosting.  The dirt is a chocolate and regular graham cracker that I put through the food processor.  The sign is made of popsicle sticks, I used my brulee torch to make the sign look weathered.  I wanted it to look like a backroads cliff type scene, so I purposely made the frosting a bit rough and dusted with the dirt afterwards.  I suspended the flying General Lee with some floral wire and a wine cork to anchor it in to the cake.  It worked out great!




Sunday, May 31, 2015

Up-Cycled garden bench using old dining chairs

We had these dining chairs sitting outside for the Winter.  They got pretty beat up.  The wood on the backs were splitting, the cushions pretty rotten, but the structure was still sound.  I decided to turn them into a Garden bench to use on the patio.


I collected my materials.  I had Home Depot cut a pretty inexpensive but sturdy piece of wood to fit the seats.
Sean picked up this piece of camper foam for me at Fred Myers.
I found the fabric for $3 at the local thrift store.  It is a nice canvas material, and I loved the bright crazy colors for my garden/patio area.

First, I created the cushion by using a bit of wood glue and attaching the foam.



Then I cut the fabric and stapled it on.  Really easy!  Using staples is so forgiving!


I popped the old gross cushions off, saved the screws because I can use them to attach the new cushion.


I could be done at this point, but I didn't like how the backs looked.  Since the seat backs were already splitting from elemental damage of sitting outside, I decided to cut them down and make it a more classic bench style.

I used a Skill saw and cut the backs off.



Had an adorable helper help me sand the parts that were cut.

Then I used some wipe on stain to make it match better.  Since I'm using this outdoors, it doesn't have to be perfect.  I just used what I had on hand.


After the stain dries, just screw the seat onto the chairs and there you have it!  An adorable little bench.

At this point I could add a cute throw pillow on it if I wanted to.  I'd probably pick something solid color in one of the fabric tones.  Maybe a black pillow, or a sunny orange or yellow pillow?  So many fun things could be done to pretty this up!

If I was going to use it indoors, I'd paint the wood white and make it super fancy. But, I don't feel like going to all the trouble for this project.  Also, painting with my little helper always turns into more of a mess than I feel like dealing with today.  I just wanted to do something easy and inexpensive that would give new life to these old chairs that likely would have been firewood otherwise!



Cost me about $20 for materials, but only took me about an hour of time to complete.
 

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