Category Archives: Project Management

The Emmy’s, A Shipping Container, and One Heavy Jacuzzi

Do you ever have those seasons where it feels like the whole world opens up and gives you green lights…all at the same time?

We are in a ‘go-time’ right now, and honestly, we’re just trying our best to keep up, while we meet all of our commitments and have some fun along the way!

Last weekend was no joke, but we made it out alive.  The most glamorous and enjoyable moment was when we walked the red carpet at the 2017 Emmy Awards! Bobby and his co-writer, Daena Jay, were nominated for an Emmy – Best Original Song – Daytime. This was the second nom in a row for this songwriting team. They didn’t take home the award this year, but we certainly had fun celebrating all things music and television.

But, before we threw on our fancies, Bobby and I went over to IPME, and bought ourselves a brand new shipping container. Yes, a shipping container. You know, the big steel boxes that travel around the world on freight liners. A container that will be delivered into our yard in three weeks. The yard that is right next to our house. Where the shipping container will stay forever and ever.

I’m a little timid about the idea. Does it show?

Ok, actually, in spite of my reservations, I’m pretty excited about this project. We’re modifying the heck out of the container, with custom steel windows and doors, and added soundproofing and lighting. And then we’re going to tether it to our garage – which, all together will make up a nice studio space at our house. Here is a first draft Sketchup of what we’re planning: 

More sketches and pictures of the container mod to come. But in the meantime, we needed to make room in our aforementioned yard for the container. It’s landing place was occupied by an above ground jacuzzi…so we had to find a new home for the spa asap. Thankfully, our friends Tom and Christy were looking to add a jacuzzi to their backyard. And within a matter of days, Tom brought his friend Tulio over to tackle the transport.

They had it on it’s side before I could even grab the camera…but here are some snaps of the process: 

Upon close inspection, there was some termite damage to the bottom frame. 

Tom will have to build a new frame before installing it over at their house. 

The guys stopped to have a brain storming session about how to get the jacuzzi from here, into the truck. Seems it was just a smidge too heavy to carry. 

‘Let’s back up the trailer and flip it side over side onto the flatbed:’

I’m pretty sure I was sipping on a nice glass of rose at this moment. 

As the guy’s were finishing up, I looked at the space that the 8 foot-wide truck was sitting in, contemplating the 8 foot-wide (and 9’6″ tall) shipping container that would soon fill the space. And I noticed something….

As you can see from this angle below, there isn’t a whole lot of wiggle room when it comes to getting the container past the roof…and not tipping down the slope. (And no, it can’t be crained in…we’ve got above ground telephone wires…thanks a lot Palos Verdes). 

Rest assured, pictures have been sent to people far smarter than I. I’m confident there is some three-armed container lift or some other monster that will handily solve this delivery problem. Right!?

The only issue after that will be for anyone who wants to remove the container…because this driveway will be long gone, and replaced with a cement patio that sits about 3 feet higher than the ground.

Nothing to worry about here. Just breathe. It will be fine. 

And with that…off goes the jacuzzi to Tom and Christy’s for a new life! 

Well, obviously, going to the Emmy’s was the best part of the weekend, but still, there was something thrilling about pulling the trigger on the container, and beginning to get the space ready for it.

I have a feeling the next few months are going to be a site to see….stay tuned!



And Over Here In Project Planning Land …

The first quarter of 2017 is such a blur.
But I gotta say, it was (and continues to be) a productive and rather focused season in the studio. We’re gearing up to release loads of new music with a bunch of fantastically talented artists – and we’re excited to share!!

Meanwhile, as Bobby’s been holed up at CatBeach – doing his thing, I’ve been in project planning mode (one of my favorite places to be). I’m still working on initial details on a bunch of plans, but I just can’t wait to get started…so, I thought I’d give a few sneaks…1) First up is this super fun shipping container retrofit that we’re installing on the side of our house, overlooking a huge canyon and the LA city lights. The container will be a multi-use space primarily focused as a writing room, complete with a set up to record vocals. Bobby and our friend Craig, of Rook and Render, dreamt up this whole thing last year. And I laughed. These two have LOT’S of ideas and this was just one that I figured would come and go. And then, I received this little mock-up. And I knew…this thing is happening. And now, here we are…fine-tuning some details and hopefully placing an order for a new shipping container this week!

 

2) Behind the scenes, I am working on a little re-branding of Catbeach Music. We love our hand drawings of Bobby and some of his gear, which is the mark in our logo, but we’re looking to freshen it up a bit with new lettering and color palette. And I’ve got a new website and catalog database in the works as well. I just love the way these little details can come together to launch our business to the next level.

 

3) If you’ve been following along here on Records, Rockets and Rosemary, you know that we’ve been working on a house remodel for a few years, which started with a dream to create an indoor-outdoor living space. This project got stuck in the city planning department, so we put it on hold for about a year. But our plans are back at the city, complete with a new drainage plan for the entire property. We’re hoping to break ground with a two-week demo schedule starting in May.

 

4) And lastly, I’m learning all about designing rooms for accessibility – making spaces comfortable and useable for everyone. “The Accessible Home” by Deborah Pierce is a great resource.  We’re looking at ways to make my brother-in-law’s home a better fit for his lifestyle. We just installed this elevator lift and we have plans to modernize his bathrooms and kitchen. So fun!!

I’m just getting started on all of these projects. I’ll post details along the way, so follow here and let me know if you have any questions about the planning, process, or vendors!



Ramblings From A Project Manager’s Existential Crisis

jen-4I am a project manager. Not like a project manager that takes the latest widget from concept to production (tho that does sound sorta fun to me), but a project manager for creative stuffs – music, print pieces, space remodels and re-orgs…these are my jam. I love working at a fast pace and I’ve always been able to handle multiple things at once – in fact I get kind of bored if I’m not juggling one too many projects at a time. A few years ago, this all caught up with me and I experienced a really nice season of burnout. Thankfully, I was able to slow things down and took some ample time to recuperate.

Over the past year, I’ve felt my capacity growing again. I’ve craved the excitement of dreaming up ideas, creating project scopes, scheduling and assigning tasks, setting budgets, and hitting the GO button. For those of you following along, this is most evidently seen in our house remodel and in some of the CatBeach Music projects we’ve initiated this year. I’ve seriously loved these projects – they are stretching me and growing me in all kinds of ways…but I’ve been feeling like there is something more…

A few week’s ago, I was chatting with a good friend about my state of being. I explained that I have lot’s of ideas and there are things that I want to do, but maybe I’d missed my chance. I was in a bit of a state of panic because I felt somehow held back…like I’m ready to go…but I’m not allowed to even step up to the starting line.  So my friend offered me this opinion and it stopped me dead in my tracks. She said that while the house remodel and music projects aren’t bad choices, that I am not living to my fullest. She went on to say that I am “wasted in the things I’m invested in” and that if I were operating at a high level in Habitat For Humanity or Samaritan’s Purse or something like that, the whole world would be different. The. Whole. World.

Like I said, this stopped me in my tracks. Am I selfish? Are my projects indulgent? Does the music we make even matter? Will our house really be a creative space for our artists and our friends and our family? Should I go back into the non-profit world where I can be confident that my work has significance and worth? I wrestled with these questions for the next couple of weeks…churning them around inside until I was completely spun out.  And one day, while on a long drive with Bobby, I blurted out the whole story…I explained that I’ve wasted my life and I’m not doing anything worthwhile and that well….”I have to go work for Habitat!! I’m serious – the world needs me!”

When I was done with my rant, my husband looked over at me – his face was a mix of anger, confusion and compassion all wrapped up in one. How could my friend have said such things? Why would I receive them so whole-heartedly? What was happening in my spirit and soul?  And then, he began to speak life and truth back into me.  He said that what I did was ‘bring beauty into the world.’ That I created peace in our home and at his studio. That I set up systems and workflows that allowed him to create his music. And he said, “it all matters.” He reminded me that putting beauty into the world is to join with creation…and whether people see it or not, it impacts the whole world. The. Whole. World.

As he spoke, I realized that my core was completely shaken. I love my friend very much (and I know she loves me), but I was allowing her to place her own convictions on me. For her, service is where she finds a sense of satisfaction and worth. But I make things. I create beautiful spaces. I find satisfaction and worth in a completed video or on album release day. And it matters. To take on her convictions, I am submitting to institutional thinking, when I know that there is so much more.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Habitat For Humanity, and have even helped to build a house or two in my day. I have great respect and admiration for people who give their lives to serve people in need and distress. But this is only one fraction of the fabric that is woven together to create a full and beautiful world. We all have our part to play.

I admit, I am just getting back on my feet and this is only the beginning of a new chapter. I’m finding my soul and spirit again…holding firm to the way in which I can truly, honestly and uniquely contribute to this world. I’m proudly embracing my gifts and dreams and digging deep to be fully me.



Impatience Is A Virtue

impatience1I am not a patient person. It is perhaps the worst of my fatal flaws. Often times I make decisions simply because I want a decision to be made, not because I have taken time to think through the possible options.
I think my impatience stems from a serious hate of waiting. Waiting is the worst. The worst.  I remember having the biggest baddest tantrum of all time out in front of the public library when I was about 6 years old….because the library was not open…yet. I think my mom wanted to leave to take me to the movie theatre and was offering to bring me back to the library after the movie…but I was inconsolable. I had my heart set on going to the library and nothing else would do. My poor mom.

Somehow, I married the most patient man I’ve ever met. Bobby sails through life, without placing any pressure on people or situations. Through our various renovations, he is always a picture of calm…so whenever we get the inevitable, “it won’t be here for another week” notice, I look to him to set the tone in response and I try my best to copy his demeanor.

Now…without going so far as to brag about my ultimate character downfall, I have to say, there are times when my severe impatience works for me. It’s true, impatience can actually be a virtue – at least according to Jim Stone, PhD and Psychology Today. The good doctor says that impatience is “triggered under certain circumstances, which motivates specific kinds of decisive action.” That’s a good thing-right!? He also finds that impatience can motivate us to switch our goals, and can benefit us if we see that a project is going nowhere or is stuck, and we accept it, move on and start working on something else.

I found myself in this very circumstance earlier this year, when our outdoor landscape project was at an indefinite standstill.  Once we had decided to remove the infamous hedge, we hired an architect and ended up broadening the scope of the project to an entirely new patio, a garage-to-studio conversion, a new garage, new driveway and the landscape. The project was now stuck in the city’s plan check and neighborhood review, and I was beginning to lose my mind in all of the minutia and snail’s pace.  Bobby would hear me mumbling to myself on more than one or nine occasions: “All I freaking wanted was to get rid of that stupid hedge.”

I was at the end of my patience rope, and I marched out to the living room to declare to Bobby that we had to move on. I assured him that I would continue pushing our outside project down the line with the city, but that I was going to start a full kitchen remodel immediately. Within the week, we had a bid from our contractor and thus began our new project.

And 5 months later, here we are…DEMO days! impatience2 impatience3impatience5impatience6impatience7impatience8impatience9impatience10impatience11impatience12More to come on the planning and design. Stay tuned!
For more on this house remodel, check out:
Why Demo A Perfectly Good Kitchen
The Hedge



Why Demo A Perfectly Good Kitchen?

Kitchen-before-3For those of you following along, you’ll remember that whole story about the hedge. I’m going to come back to that in future posts, but today, I’m jumping ahead about 9 months and bringing us into the present.
We are in the middle of a kitchen – living room remodel. When we began the project, we interviewed a number of contractors and their various trades, and we would consistently get confused stares when they walked into our house.

‘You’re planning to demo this kitchen???  Why would you do that??’

Check out our kitchen and living room before pics and you may be asking yourself the same questions…Island-Before

Kitchen-Before-2Living-BeforeLiving-Room-BeforeI have to admit, this caused us to stop in our tracks and question our plans and motives. What exactly were we chasing? Was this a ridiculous waste of money? Were we trying to keep up with some imaginary family out there who seemingly had everything we always wanted?

We took time to sort through these questions which helped us to narrow down our goals and set a design direction that would prove to be key to the whole process.

First, we realized that our desire was to create a space that reflected ‘us’. While researching styles and finishes, we found that we could easily end up with the same exact kitchen…just a slightly updated version of it. Don’t get me wrong, along with you, I love a beautiful set of shaker cabinets, coupled with a marble countertop…but I’ve always had the desire to be slightly different than prevailing trends. So we got really excited when we freed ourselves up to fight for whimsical and unique finishes, complemented with modern, clean lines and honest textures and surfaces.

Second, we identified some major design and functionality issues that needed correction, the biggest of which was in the open floor plan. The kitchen overall and the spaces between counters were actually too wide, leaving a lot of open, unusable floor space, and creating a very inefficient work triangle. And the living room, though nice-sized was slightly too small…it was a little bit too big for what it was and a little bit too small for something more. We decided to rearrange the kitchen layout while also taking some space from it and adding it to the living room.
The next major issue was that cabinets lined every single wall in the kitchen and living room.  We didn’t have any wall space. Not a single wall. That may not seem like a big deal, but that means we would have to subscribe to the cabinets being our only sense of creativity or personality f.o.r.e.v.e.r. …No chance of changing things up with a new piece of art or interesting found objects.  The minute we began talking about removing the cabinets, I felt like I could breathe easier…it was like I could see the whole space becoming lighter. The cabinets, along with the hedge…goners!
And the last thing to be addressed were our double doors leading down and out to the patio. Patio-Steps-beforeI’m not sure how to describe the doors and the steps they led out to, other than to say that they were ill-conceived. One designer looked us right in the eye and declared that the whole step-door situation was ‘disturbing‘.  At first I was sort of offended, but then I understood…there was something about the layout that made the whole patio uninviting. We’ve had many dinner parties with the double doors wide open, but our guests remained inside each and every time. It was as if the steps held some sort of imaginary barrier keeping people locked away from the scary outdoors.  So, we decided to make a wider opening to the patio…and to raise the entire patio about 2-1/2 feet to meet the raised foundation level of the house – so eventually, it will be a true indoor-outdoor space…and now we’re talking a whole second stage to our project…and that’s a whole other story….I hope you join me for all of the fun and somewhat daunting tidbits!



The Power Of Fresh Paint

Studio-BeforeWe set plans in motion at the beginning of this year to upgrade Bobby’s recording space, CatBeach Studio.

After months of research, we purchased the new rig, new components, new wiring, and a few specialty items (details to come in a later post!). We spent weeks rendering the specifics of the workflow and how it would best be accomplished through the wall rack spaces and through potential new desk rack spaces.

After looking at a multitude of new studio desks, we decided to commission a local millworker to build a custom desk for the new rig.  And with the commission, came a wait time of a few months…to be expected for the custom order. So, there we were with all of the new gear and it’s wiring, sitting in the garage, just…waiting.

Anyone who knows me, knows that once I’ve instigated a project, I have a hard time waiting. I like to see progress. I like the movement and experience of the gradual change that comes with each step.  So, I decided to switch around the project schedule a bit, to grant me some much needed project satisfaction. I attacked the final interior design decisions, which definitely gave us the feeling of being in an entirely new space.

Check out the Before + During + Afters here:
Here is the CatBeach Studio control room before pic. As our loving studio-rat/bass-monkey/taste-maker, Jonathan Ahrens said, ‘something about the studio brought us all right back to the set of ‘Friends’, circa 1996.’ CatBeach-Studio-Before

Can’t you just picture Ross and Rachel now…?

Ok, so I addressed the couch first. The little 80’s heart-shaped love seat was actually ridiculously comfortable…so it was hard to say goodbye, but well, it was time…oh, and those arms – they took up half of the room! We replaced it with a 6′ leather sofa from RH…perfect for the space…this picture is a luxurious 8′, but you get the idea:
Sorensen Couch

The next major thing to address was the wall color in the control room and hallways. The walls were various shades of happy yellows and greens.  It was time to change the mood. I wanted to go with something more dramatic, that would bring out the beautiful wood grain in the wall racks and in the new desk. We deliberated over 3 potential shades:Studio paint Color

In the end, we went with the one in the middle – Benjamin Moore’s Baby Seal Black.
And then, the final detail for this step in the project, was to update the white registers on the wall. We decided on some hefty mission-style chrome registers from Signature Hardware. I forgot to order them in brushed stainless, which led to this little Saturday morning project:Studio-Register

We installed the registers in their newly painted walls…and that was all I needed to feel the rush of satisfaction and a sense that this Studio Remod was moving forward. Here’s a sneak peak of the studio to this point:
Studio-Couch

Studio-Paint

Our friend, Daena Jay, loves it and is soaking it all in while writing the next big hit. Yeow! DaenaJay StudioStay tuned for more updates on the CatBeach Studio Remod.