Monday, October 29, 2007

Being Realistic Instead of Perfectionistic

Whenever someone has asked about my website recently, I've given them the address followed by a disclaimer. "It's in dire need of updating - I'm going to try to get to it this weekend," I'd say.

The problem? I've been issuing that disclaimer for about 6 months. Next weekend has turned into the next weekend, which has turned into the next weekend... you get the picture.

While the sitebuilder product I used to build my store is extraordinarily easy to use, it's much better for someone who has lots of stuff or lots of time - someone who can load the products and let it go or, alternatively, someone who has the time to manage it more than once every 6 months. Given the way I work (probably a result of slight ADD and a propensity toward boredom if required to make the same thing too many times), I found myself struggling to keep my store updated - to circulate inventory in and out of the shop, set up new products, and just maintain it in a way that kept up with my 'everything must be perfect or the world will stop' nature.

So, instead, this weekend I caught up with my good friend Etsy. Sure, it's not as fancy-schmantzy as a storefront but, given that lately I barely have time to fit in showers and meals, Etsy is perfect. Shoot a few pictures, write a quick description, name your price and, BAM: 20 cents later, your item is posted in a pretty little listing. For sellers like me - with only a few items and continually revolving inventory, it's a great option.

At the request of friends, family and the kind people who stopped by my booth at the Strut, I've posted a ton of my leftover inventory and re-directed my site to my Etsy Store.

Now maybe I'll be able to find some time to sew!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I had a friend who lives in Florida email me today - she'd just heard the news of our impending arrival and insisted that I keep her updated with photos.

I didn't have the heart to write back and tell her that she probably won't be getting any photos.

Maybe it's because I'm always the one behind the camera - that it's too hard to direct my husband to shoot pictures so that they come out the way I have them set-up in my mind. Or that I'm too lazy to set up the tripod and use the timer.

Or because our camera is broken and our memory card is corrupted - and I don't have the patience to go through the 20 steps necessary to take and dump one photo.

But truthfully I've got to believe the main reason why I haven't taken a single pregnancy photo is because I hate the way I look.

I broke out the maternity clothes yesterday. 15 weeks, that's got to be one for the record books. I never thought I'd have to wear maternity clothes at 15 weeks - the time in my pregnancy when my friend Miki was still bragging about fitting into her size 2 designer jeans, my size 8 pants were cutting off circulation to my lower extremities.

I did a fashion show for my husband yesterday - let him know the kind of sexy he had to look forward to for the next 6 months; the pulled-up-to-beneath-your-boobs, spandex-patch-in-the-front, huge-elastic-waistband kind of hot. He thinks it's cute - I, however, think it's hideous.

People who didn't know I was pregnant until now have started to ask. "When are you expecting?" they say and, although I'm tempted to reply, "Expecting what?" instead I say, "Not for a while - way too far off to be showing this much."

Those who already knew about the baby have also started to comment. "Oh you're getting so big!" they exclaim, as if it's a complement. To some women it might be - to me it's the equivalent of my husband telling me my ass looks fat in my favorite jeans.

I hate the stupid pregnancy t-shirts with sayings like, "Yes, I'm pregnant!" or "Baby". I hate going shopping and seeing all of the cute fall fashions as I make my way to the maternity section, where everything is loose and over-sized. I hate being told that I'm going to have to give up my 4-inch heels. And I hate people commenting on the continual expansion of my waistline.

I knew I wouldn't be one of those people who talks about being pregnant every minute of the day and I've always sworn that, although I know my life will change, I won't let this baby to change who I am. Never say never but I didn't enjoy hanging out with pregnant women or new moms before I got pregnant, I don't enjoy it now that I am pregnant and I don't expect it change my mind on the topic anytime soon. I doubt I'll ever be one of those pregnant women who think that they're so special and that somehow they're entitled to something just by virtue of the fact that they're pregnant.

But, I did think that I'd be sentimental - the kind of woman who takes pictures every month to document her growing belly and who keeps journals of all of the funny, insightful and touching moments over the course of the 9 month process.

Apparently things aren't at all what I expected.

During the first trimester, I didn't have any morning sickness and I didn't fall asleep on the couch the minute I got home from work as everyone insisted I would. I still crave all of the things I can't have (wine, strong dark coffee, unpasteurized cheese, lox and sushi) - unlike all of my friends who insisted I wouldn't want any of those things - that the sight or idea of them would make me nauseous - while I was pregnant. Quite honestly, I find pregnancy to be much like every day life - except for the fact that I'm fat.

And I find it difficult to get riled up over that.

I know I should get excited about my growing midsection - it's been a long time coming and I should be grateful that it's finally here, without shots, pills or other medical procedures. The baby is about 4 inches long now and, according to one of my email newsletters, if I were to shine a flashlight on my belly, the baby would be able to sense the light and move to the other side of my uterus. It's hard to believe (and also pretty cool) that I'm growing that inside of me - and I guess that a big belly and ugly clothes are a small price to pay for the ultimate reward. Just give me some time to warm up to the idea of documenting it on a memory card.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Joy of Simplicity

Last weekend I went 'home' for a bridal shower for one of my high school friends. It's funny how, no matter how long I've been gone, or the fact that I've lived away almost as many years as I lived there, there's something in me that thinks of Ft. Lauderdale as home. It was great to see my family and to catch up with friends who have, like me, scattered throughout the country. It's always great to be around those people who know you the best - the people with whom you can be yourself and with whom you can laugh about your feathered hair, bad judgment in boyfriends or simply memories of times that feel like forever ago.

For what was probably the first time in my life, I decided I was going to be prepared for this shower. A few weeks before the shower I logged on to Wedding Channel. I had my plan: order the gift, have it shipped to my parents' house in Ft. Lauderdale and take it to the shower. Easy right?

Not so fast. No registries under her name on Wedding Channel. So I searched everywhere else. Target? No. Linens N Things? Nothing. Bed Bath & Beyond? Nada.

Turns out my friend - being the great person she is - hasn't registered intentionally. She'd rather people spend their money on coming to her wedding - to be there to celebrate with her and her new husband, rather than on some trinket that will sit in their kitchen.

That's fine. I'm creative - I can make her a gift, I decided. After giving it some thought I decided on the perfect gift: Sublime Stitching embroidered kitchen towels. For bonus points I'd work their names and wedding date into the design.

Naturally, in true Robin fashion, two days before the shower, I hadn't even started the gift. But, determined to finish a handmade gift before the shower, I called an audible. I threw some of my favorite fabric in my bag and thanked the lord baby Jesus that my mom has the same sewing machine as I do.

A few months ago I bought Amy Karol's book. Much like Amy Butler's book, it took me a while to break down and buy it and, I'm almost embarrassed to admit why. While I know that Project Runway may not be the next entry on my sewing resume, I do know my way around a sewing machine and I worried that the book might be too elementary for me - that the projects would be boring, things for which I don't need instructions or patterns.

But, in a fit of boredom one afternoon, I broke down. And, I'm glad I did. The projects are pretty simple but they're so darn fun.

Sometimes it's better to not have to think - to be able to have the measuring and experimenting done for you. To be able to just pick up something and do it - instead of having to figure out how to do it, scratching your head at each step along the way. This weekend was one of those times. Within 2 hours - start to finish - I had an adorable apron and, complements of Denyse Schmidt's instruction in her equally great book, a matching oven mitt. A perfect gift for a dear friend in record time.

Now if only I could find a way to get the bride to cook...

Monday, October 8, 2007

Falling Behind

I've always been one to bit of more than I can chew, burn the candle at both ends, put too much on my plate - whatever idiom you choose to use for someone who tries to do too much, chances are it applies to me.

It's 9:00 pm and as I sit here frustrated; although I realize that I probably couldn't ever accomplish everything on my overly-ambitious to-do lists, even if weekends were 4 days long, I'm angry with myself for not being able to accomplish more.

Of the things on my list: packing up a custom order dress for my friend Daniella and putting together some fabric samples for a very sweet, very patient woman who has asked me to help design a crib skirt for her baby. Yet, here I sit, at 9 pm, exhausted after putting in a long day at the office, cooking dinner, checking email and trying to squeeze in a little exercise.

I have great visions of what I want to do for our first child - of the scrapbook pages I'll make, the clothing I'll sew, the super cool projects that will decorate the baby's room. But, I wonder if I'll ever get around to all of it.

I'd like to blame it on the baby - to think that my lack of energy is the result of this thing growing inside of me - but quite honestly, I can't think of a single period in my life in which I haven't felt like I was behind the proverbial 8-ball. Perhaps I thrive on this type of self-applied pressure - maybe it's my own form of motivation. But, damn, can it get exhausting.

I'm always amazed by those women - you know the ones I'm talking about. The ones who manage to put their photos in albums, complete scrapbook pages before the event being memorialized is over a year old, manage to cook, bake and garden, hit the gym every day and find time to write about it. Anyone know their secret?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Moving On

"Are you folks enjoying my hotel?"

We stood there in the elevator - me, my husband and our friends Jeanine and James. My husband's band played earlier that night at the House of Blues and we'd spent the hours after the show lingering in the posh Foundation Room, sipping cocktails and toasting James' thirtieth birthday.

By the time we made it across the street to the hotel, it was well past 2 am - our eyes blurry from the late hour and a night filled with the type of jokes that push you to tears.

So, when the question was posed to us, we stood there in shock. I wish I could remember what we said. I'm sure one of us mumbled something and that we all quickly stepped out of the elevator. But I do clearly remember what happened when the doors closed after us - we all stood there in disbelief, with eyes that asked, "Was that really??" After all, it's not ever day you meet Dan Ackroyd in the Chicago House of Blues Hotel elevator at 2:30 in the morning.

During a break in my schedule during my last trip to Chicago, I had to visit Bin 36 - one of my favorite places to go during my frequent trips to Chicago. Even though I knew I couldn't indulge in either of my passions given the growing bean in my belly, I still wanted to visit a familiar place, a place where I've shared long afternoons over wine flights and cheese plates.

I was on the phone with my husband, chatting about my day, as I made my way down Dearborn, when I saw the sign. "They changed the name of the House of Blues Hotel," I exclaimed. We'd known that the House of Blues Hotel and the Loews hotel group were parting ways so I can't say the name change was surprising but what I saw when I made my way to the hotel and up the stairs, was a complete shock.

Gone was the huge pink chair that sat outside, the huge golden Buddha that greeted visitors in the lobby, and the funky decor. The bold colors were replaced with white and the decor lacked any of the originality that excited me so much back in 1998 when I visited for the first time.

My heart sunk and tears welled in my eyes. I felt as though I'd lost a good friend. I recounted every change with my husband on the line and could sense that his disappointment mirrored mine - we'd shared many, many memories at the House of Blues hotel. Of the cities we travel to together, Chicago is by far the most frequent and we've never stayed anywhere other than the House of Blues Hotel. I felt as though so many of our memories were wiped away with a few coats of paint and some new furniture.

It made me wish I'd said more on that night so many years ago - that I'd said how much I loved that hotel. That I'd mentioned how it was my first introduction to Chicago so many years ago and how I thought it represented so much of what I love about Chicago: energy, fun, hospitality. I wish I'd spoken of the memories shared at that hotel - of how I loved to see the faces of friends and family when the discovered the gem of a place, with it's Howard Finster artwork, terrazzo sinks and bottle cap phone. How we'd ushered in many special first trips, big birthdays and new years in that place and how I couldn't think of a better place to have spent each occasion. It was something unique - with it's own character - words almost never used in association with something as generic and sterile as a hotel. I wish I'd gushed about how great the House of Blues Hotel was and how much it meant to me.

I doubt any of that would have changed things; nevertheless, I feel compelled to say it now. Dan, I did enjoy your hotel - thanks for the memories.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Baby Troj

We stood in the bathroom as our dog Coltrane pushed his way in there too - not willing to miss out on any of the action. "This is taking forever," I sighed. There are few times in your life when 3 minutes seems like an eternity and this was one of them.

Finally I saw it. "Wow - so I guess that's it, huh?"

My husband stood there in shock and finally asked, "So are these things ever wrong?" His skepticism not for lack of excitement - but rather a direct result of his disbelief, our disbelief that after three years - at the time when we least expected - the moment was finally here.

But just a few weeks later we learned the answer to his question. It wasn't wrong and we're really, really excited.