Waking Up From The Holidays

We had a break this week, from our unusually rainy winter here in So Cal. It’s strange how, as the sun comes out with a crisp brightness, I naturally feel compelled to wake up and step out of my winter hibernation.

I went into the holidays with a full calendar of parties and events, mixed in with our own gatherings – hosting friends and family. It was a beautiful season sharing our new home with the people we love. We experienced the new paths of movement around the island in the center of the house, and we sunk in to a slow daily rhythm, enjoying food, music and conversation. The pace of our shortened days were captured by the view out of our picture window, watching the sun rise over the mountains to the east, following it’s journey up and over our house, until it finally disappeared behind us, turning the LA basin outside our windows, into a virtual sea of city lights.

Most profoundly, the season was marked by the passing of my sweet Uncle George, just a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving. And with the shortening of the days and what would normally be a gradual slow down, this year, everything came to a sudden stop. And all that mattered was time…time with our closest loves.  We seized this gift of time and did our best to set aside all of the incidental ‘things’ that came up. We laughed, we mourned, we told stories, we held hands, we gave gifts, and we ate a whole lot of food. And we took our time.  We did not rush toward the New Year. We sort of let it just happen.  We did not rush to get back to work. We’ve sort of just eased our way through January. And I am quite thankful for it.

Now, for those of you who ‘know’ me. You will understand that this is not normal for me.  ‘Stopping’ is difficult for me. I love the start of a new year. I love to hit the ground running on January 2.  And I’m usually halfway through whatever my first project of the year is.
And to be quite honest, while I embraced the gift of time with family and friends, I found that the back of my mind was still charging on… …planning…organizing…strategizing…dreaming…
It was really hard to completely shut it down. My need to achieve is strong. My sense of responsibility is enormous. So, even though practically, things slowed down, the inside of my brain was still motoring on!

One evening before Christmas, over dinner with friends, I was sharing about this inner tension, and our conversation turned to the natural rhythms of life. Our friend Craig described the intense human impulse to stay in tune with the earth’s patterns. We slow down as the day’s become shorter.  Offices are closed early and we add more hours to our sleeps. And it’s all good. Our bodies need this time to rest in the Winter months, before the reawakening of Spring – the time of new birth and creation. In other words, we should give in to the desire to curl up on the couch and binge watch holiday rom-coms and sip on something warm and yummy, (in hindsight, I’m guessing he did not, in fact, share an urge to binge watch holiday rom-coms…I may have added that detail myself).  And we should trust that the time for creating and building will come with a new sense of energy focus.

Still, because this is not natural for me, a couple of weeks later, sometime around New Years, I found myself wrestling with this again. Maybe I should cancel our plans with friends…maybe we shouldn’t just spend the day with my cousin…maybe we don’t need to go to a concert with my brother-in-law (even though it would be the highlight of the season for him)…because…work…projects…writing…obligations…I had an overwhelming sense of guilt. I should be working. I should be producing. I should be creating.

The inner tension was strong.

And then, I happened to listen to two different podcasts (I’m sort of addicted to the pods). Both speakers, in their own way, described their own battles between rest and production – the need to create vs. the need to be – hurry up or slow down. And the peculiar thing is, they didn’t necessarily advocate for a complete shut down, as in a fight for the 20-hour work week. Instead, they both described with compelling clarity that following natural rhythms of slowing down and re-awakening will  give our souls the ability to flourish. Take a break. Give your body and mind permission to rest. Enjoy the company of the people you love. And then, remember who you are and what you are doing here. And out of your rested place, get up, have a stretch, and start moving.

So, in the spirit of the New Year, here’s to a slow start…and here’s to all that’s to come in 2017!

If you’d like to listen to the podcasts I mentioned, you can find them here:
Rob Bell – ‘I May Vacuum Out My Car Tomorrow’
John-Mark Comer – Hurry, The Great Enemy of Spiritual Life

 



Getting Crafty

It happens every year. A chill fills the night air, the clocks are set back, and the sky goes dark by 5pm. As most of us begin to slow our pace, the inevitable happens right around us…those neighbors we all know and love, begin to completely transform their homes with thousands of lights and decorations – better described as stage sets straight off the Universal Studios lot. It starts with Halloween – now on par with the traditional Christmas splendor – the black and orange gory-deco’s blending right in to Santa’s red and green.

Like so many, my inner-crafter comes out during the holidays and spills out all over our house. But in general, I gravitate to a more minimal palette with less clutter – which, with our new white walls and white-washed floors, made the colors stand out in such a beautifully simple way.

My first project this season was to set the table for our first Thanksgiving dinner. I found my inspiration (aka, copied this idea) on Pinterest… I love these painted pumpkins! It took about 3 coats of different spray paints to find the best matte finished colors.

Once we recovered from all of the turkey and trimmings, we began our search for our perfect Christmas tree. Once again, I wanted to keep it simple, and I wanted to see the white walls through the tree. After a little research, we decided to go with a Silver tip tree. And I love it so much. The symmetry of the branches that open up to the trunk is just so beautiful. We kept the ornament colors neutral and used a cable knit blanket for the tree skirt:

We had an open wall in our living room and I wasn’t sure how I was going to fill it in. Then, I saw this article on Purewow, and decided I would lift one of the ideas to create a 2nd tree made out of birch logs.  The biggest obstacle was keeping our dogs away from the little birds perched on the branches…yum yum! We put the final touches on the kitchen island and the dining table:

And some final pieces to prepare for a Christmas party that we hosted for the band Moxi:
The decorating is all done, and now it’s time to finish wrapping the presents…
XO!



Stuck On These Cabinets

cabs5Welcome to my Writer’s Block. Or let’s call it my own personal War of Art. Or perhaps I will just start by simply saying, I’m stuck…I don’t know how to begin this post, and I don’t know exactly how to say what I want to say.

This post is about our new kitchen cabinets – the focal point and foundation of our kitchen remodel. And the truth is, I’ve been thinking about this particular post since I started blogging. And I haven’t posted anything in two weeks because I’ve been just thinking about this one post.

Without sounding too precious, I love these cabinets so much, and I feel immense pressure to honor them and the artisans who built them, by capturing all of their beautiful details in just the right way.  Ok…I know…that is slightly over the top. But, I don’t care. I love them. And my stuck-ness is because I love them. I am stuck on them. I am stuck on my kitchen cabinets.

So, here I am, sitting at my computer. Still stuck. And I need to just power through and write…just get on with it.  This is just a post about kitchen cabinets after all!  So here goes:

Our kitchen remod began, as all good remods do, with hours and hours on Pinterest. I was drawn to the rustic-nordic-modern designs, and found a number of beautiful bespoke cabinet designs that I loved…that were unfortunately built in England…like this beauty from Plain English Design:20_pe_osea_2-1-1145x763

Or this lovely from DeVol Kitchensdevol-shaker-1

We actually looked into working with these companies, but in the end, between labor + materials + shipping, it was above our price point. I’ve since heard that both of these companies are beginning to deal directly to the US, and I would highly recommend them!

After months of dreaming and pinning, we sat down with our contractor, Craig, to chat about this particular design direction. We had met with different local millworkers to discuss our project – but I kept getting cold feet. I really liked the rustic nature of bespoke shaker cabinets, but I was afraid that something would be lost in translation and that we would end up with cabinets that were more standard contemporary and not rustic. The lines were just too close for me. In the end, Bobby and Craig encouraged me to really go after what I wanted…not to settle. And that is what I did. I went back to the Pinterest/World Wide Web drawing board, and I found my ultimate design inspiration from an article about Rene Redzepi’s home kitchen. Rene is the chef of a restaurant in Denmark called Noma that we hope to visit someday. He enlisted Garde Hvalsoe to build his cabinets…and I just fell in love with their unique millwork and design. I hadn’t really seen anything like it before – and I could visualize the way it would come together in our home.  But once again, this company is based in Europe.  *hmph*

So, with Bobby and Craig’s encouragement sitting fresh in my mind, I drew up my own plans for white-oak cabinets with dovetail details, lot’s of drawers for my daily-use items, open shelves, and huge storage spaces inside the island and pantry.  Craig brought in a killer artisan millworker, Carlos Lopez, who completely understood what we were going for.  This guy is designing and building for some of the best new restaurant start-ups in L.A. And somehow, we were able to get his team in on our project and they were able to bring my dream kitchen into reality.

Finally, I’m so excited to share some pics of the cabinets and our almost complete kitchen!   I’ll start with the island – it’s the perfect place to congregate while we’re cooking…and I can’t even explain the vast amounts of storage space that it provides: cabs4

The other side of the island is my working triangle between the sink, refrigerator, and stovetop. It also has a new warming drawer, dishwasher and open shelves for cutting boards and cookbooks:
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The bank of cabinets along the wall is made up of all drawers on each side of the stove/oven combo. We found that the drawers actually make storage of daily items more accessible and organized. At the end of the wall is a beautiful pantry with pull-out drawers and shelves for things we want to keep out of the way, like the microwave:
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We added in this great little seating area next to the island, in front of the tri-fold doors, which now open to the patio – it’s the perfect spot for our morning coffee! You can also see a preview of our temporary redwood steps (new patio will be in remodel phase 2 – coming in 2017), and our new exterior paint color: cabs8cabs9cabs14Oh my gosh. It feels so good to finally share these cabinet details with y’all. If you want to read more about our kitchen remod, check out some of my other posts!  And some serious thanks to Craig and Carlos for their beautiful workmanship!!!



Passion People: The Outlaw Roadshow

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I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I hopped on a plane last week. I was heading out to support my friend, singer-songwriter Kathleen Sieck, as she made her New York debut.  I knew she would be playing at something called The Outlaw Roadshow, which I assumed was your basic lineup of Americana bands and artists. But what I experienced was so much more…

Started by radio host, Ryan Spaulding and Adam Duritz of The Counting Crows, the Roadshow describes itself as a family of fans and artists. And can I just tell you – this is not hype or an empty attempt at some ‘authentic branding,’ nor is it a big business, corporate-money-making festival for “independent artists, (ahem). No, this is truly what it looks like to build up and support a community of indie artists.

Logistically, it is a 3-day series of free live shows in 3 different cities each year, supported by a weekly radio show. But behind the scenes, I witnessed an actual community of artists in the flesh. During the day, they filmed live recordings of each artist performing an acoustic set in Adam’s loft – littered with an audience of other musicians and bands. The scene was like the day-after-Christmas-hangover – everyone was moving slow, eating bagels and leftovers, and sharing quiet stories amongst themselves, while the rotation of bands took their video stage.  In the evenings the two-stage rotation of back-to-back performances at The Bowery Electric, was packed out with fans, and the other artists and musicians, (btw-this was not the obligatory, ‘I’ll stay to support my opening band’…this was musicians hanging out and listening and encouraging each other all evening long). And then, as the shows wound down somewhere between 1-2am, all the musos would find their way back to an afterparty at the loft, which basically turned into a boozy all-night sing-along and jam session. For three days.

Along with the support that the bands gave each other, I was struck by the overwhelming generosity and excitement of the crew of people who produce this thing. Ryan and Adam and their teams were there for each and every show, sitting right up front…listening, swaying, nodding, smiling…     And then, there was this whole other cast of artisan characters – to name a couple – there was John Wright, a winemaker from Santa Ynez Valley, who also hosts a live music series in his barrel room – he provided the wine and swag and an overall show of support from the Cali Coast.  And then there was the painter, Felipe Molina, whose beautiful artwork was a backdrop for the whole party. There were more…a whole crew of Passion People – doing inspiring things, living inspiring lives, helping others to do the same.

In the spirit of The Roadshow, we can all give indie artists in our community a leg up – go see a show, buy a cd, maybe even a t-shirt, throw out a post and a hashtag. It all helps.  It’s all encouraging. And that support breeds more beauty, more art, and more creation.  And. That. Matters.

So, with that, here are just a few of the artists who played this year. Take a listen to the clips below, check out their websites…

Kathleen Sieck:

K Phillips: featuring David Immurgluck of the Counting Crows.

The sultry and rock sounds of Brandy Zdan:

Kirby Brown – releasing the first of a series of 3 eps this week (October 28th, 2016):

Adam Duritz & Rob Thomas gave a late night secret show…here’s just a little bite from it:

To all of The Outlaw Roadshow, thank you for all that you are doing!

Click here for more stories about Passion People.



Antidote to My Existential Crisis: Passion People

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The past couple of weeks, I’ve continued to think through the significance of creativity and how to define a sense of worthiness for my projects. It’s not that I’m looking for someone to give me an ‘attaboy,’ but more like I’m trying to build up data and experiences for what feels like a core conviction – that creativity is indeed valuable. Making stuff matters. Putting beauty into this world will have an effect on the world.

This soundtrack running around in the back of my brain has somehow opened my eyes in a very new way to the incredibly talented and passionate people in my life. These are artisans – serious about their expression, playful and free in their attitude, and ultimately infectious to be around.

One such artist is my friend Briana Cisneros. Briana is a hair stylist. She is a salon owner. She is a trainer. And she loves what she does. Honestly. I mean she really truly loves what she does. And she shines. It is clear that she takes her gift and expression very seriously and wants to give each person her very best. She is excited to enhance her clients’ beauty.  She studies techniques and makes them her own with flair and freedom. And she is completely present in every aspect of the process…which as many of us know who’ve spent a day in the salon, can be a long and detailed one. And the results are truly stunning. Check out her instagram to see what she is all about.

I was lucky enough to spend a day with Bri this week. Her attitude inspired me and the balls of crumpled up foil all over my head gave me the giggles. Incidentally, the foil balls were a new technique she had learned the day before! And I gotta say, I walked out of her salon with a little extra zing in my step.   You can see the process and results below:

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Thanks Briana – You are making the world a better place!

If this wasn’t enough, here’s a little more about my own personal existential crisis.



Refinishing Floors: Not Glamorous But High Impact.

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About half way through demoing our living room and kitchen, our contractor mentioned that our floors were going to need some serious work…there were repairs to some of the planks and we needed to lace in new planks to fill areas previously covered by cabinets. That led us to address some serious concerns about the yellowed-out finish of the floors – how would that look with our new white oak cabinets? And…while we were at it, the ceiling beams needed to be sandblasted to bring out their natural color.

Welcome to Project Creep.

I should be honest here. The project manager in me was 100% against these ideas. We hadn’t budgeted or prepared for this costly and messy plan. I knew this would probably double the timeframe of the remodel and I was not happy about the last minute clearing of 3/4 of our furniture into the garage.

Thankfully, my husband, who naturally explores ideas with great creativity and freedom,  gently pushed me to see the importance of tackling the floors and the beams. He explained that in the end these would be the finishing touches that would pull our whole vision together. And that even though we didn’t plan for it, now was the perfect time to do it – we were already living like we were back in a dorm room…so let’s just go for it!

Our first step was to find more pieces of our existing wood floors – a Southern Yellow Pine. We were able to track down the company, Authentic Reclaimed Flooring, where the original planks came from. We needed about 200 sq. feet, which they were able to send out to us the next day.

What I didn’t know, was to make sure that the delivery included a pallet jack delivery all the way into our house. Instead, the driver pulled the pallets off the truck and dropped them in the driveway, leaving them for us to deal with. Rookie move. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, these gardening shears did not cut the metal ties… floors2Bobby to the rescue…tin snips…that’s how you cut metal ties… floors3 floors4 floors5While Bobby brought in the lumber, I secured some help to pack up the kitchen items. Those would be the same kitchen items that I had previously moved into the dining room. My great initial strategy to avoid packing everything up, turned into double the work. I only cussed once. Or twice.  floors14Next, time to move all of the furniture to the garage…thankful for friends…floors15And now, let the fun begin…
Our contractor, Craig, outlined the needed repairs with Francisco – perhaps the most diligent and hard working flooring specialist around. First step was to fill in all of the open sub-flooring areas, then replace any damaged planks with new: floors6 floors7 floors8This was the last we saw of our floors before we packed up our pups and hightailed it right on out of town. It’s ok, let the sand fly, we’ll be here for the next month (at my in-laws house!):floors13We received some photo updates along the way…new planks laced in to the old:floors16Bringing in new planks right up to the new cabinets:floors17Next Francisco began the refinishing, by first sanding off all of the old varnish:floors9After he sanded the floors a few times, he had to break for the ceiling sandblasting. We don’t have any pictures of the sandblast process, but basically, just picture sand being blasted at full speed and power, at the ceiling. No big deal.
Anyway, once that was all done, Francisco returned to add 2 coats of Bona’s Nordic Tone to create a whitewashed effect and to keep the floors from yellowing: floors18He finished with another two coats of polyurethane for some protection:
floors10 floors11And now…this is the part of the story, where I look up at the beautiful rustic beams, and I look down at the gorgeous whitewashed pine floors, and I acknowledge that my husband is a genius…I can’t even explain how much I love the results.
And yes, it was all worth it! floors12See the full progress on our house remodel here.



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.



The Beverly Hillbillies And The Outlaw Roadshow

kathleen9Work and creativity can flow out of even the most random, disordered and transient of situations. Bobby and I are living proof of this statement.

Being self-employed, we keep ourselves nice and busy with our publishing company, CatBeach Music. I generally work from home, with an occasional work day spent in a coffee shop with a view, a co-working space in the city, or alongside Bobby at the studio. My workspace at home, along with all of our furniture and appliances, have been emptied into the garage for the last 5 weeks.  And the studio has also been in a bit of disarray while making upgrades to it.

Needless to say, working, as well as basic living, has been challenging the past couple of months. (First world problems…trust me, I know.) Anyway, we packed up our car with our two labradoodles, some gear, and whatever clothes we could fit – like a scene right out of The Beverly Hillbillies – and we drove up to the Santa Ynez valley. We happily left our empty, dusty construction zone of a house in LA, and moved in to a clean, quiet and fully furnished retreat in wine country. I spent the first few days setting up shop and creating a comfortable studio-workspace and we somehow found a new and different rhythm.

While we were there, Bobby got a call to write an earthy, melancholy ballad for a very specific scene in a TV show.  He decided to call up a friend of ours, who lives in the valley, to co-write for this assignment.
We met Kathleen Sieck, an Americana singer-songwriter, a few years earlier at a festival that she was playing. Since then we’ve seen her play a number of shows, along with her band – The Paradise Road – at Standing Sun Live and other venues up north. If we have to do that thing, where we compare her to another artist, we’d say she is a cross between Allison Krauss and Rosanne Cash with a little modern Nikki Lane thrown in.

kathleen5Over the course of 3 days, Bobby and Kathleen wrote a couple of tunes for the TV assignment and tracked live performances of 2 of Kathleen’s original songs. We recorded her songs in preparation for her appearance at the upcoming Outlaw Roadshow in New York City (October 20-22 at The Bowery Electric).  We’re super excited that we were able to work together – and can’t wait to see what is next for Kathleen.

Looking back, considering that we felt like we were in a state of total chaos, it’s amazing that we had the space and mental capacity to actually create and produce.  I’m not sure how it even happened, except by sheer determination and motivation. Sometimes that is when the best stuff happens I guess.

Oh…and stand by…I’ll post the tunes when they’ve been released into the world!



Window Splurge

One of the features that drew us to our home was the panoramic view from the main living space, kitchen and dining room. It’s something that we are extremely thankful for and appreciate every single day.

We have some pretty great picture windows to frame that view. But what can I say, we wanted more! So our kitchen remodel actually began with some new windows – which would not only increase our sight lines, but would also be the first step in creating an indoor-outdoor living space.
Here are the two main changes we set out to make: windows2 windows4

Our contractor, Craig Gore, brought out my favorite dynamic duo, Chase and Perkins, from Perkins Construction, to handle the window install. We picked out a beautiful tri-fold door from La Cantina and a Milgard picture window + awning  window unit.
We began with the La Cantina trifold.  First step: removing the wood siding and preparing to cut into the wall. Note: it was at about this moment that we found out about the subterranean termites who had been squatting inside the walls (Unforeseen Issue #1). Cut to me heading straight to the phone to secure termite treatment.
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After conferencing about the termites, the old window came out, and the guys cut the new hole. Next up, waterproofing the new opening with flashing: windows7

Due to the size, weight and movement of the tri-fold panel door system, we had to install an 8′ structural header: windows9

The guys laid out the frame for the tri-fold door before the final install. And Chase is just about ready to tear down the siding for the new Milgard window: windows10

Unfortunately, when they went to install the Milgard, Perkins discovered that the frame had been damaged during delivery. So, instead of the new window, we had a nice boarded up window until a Milgard rep could come take a look (Unforeseen Issue #2). Between the plywood and the trash pile, I’m sure the neighbors were beginning to mumble amongst themselves:windows14

About a week later, Milgard sent out a team to come look at the window frame. I showed them out to the garage, where the window was stored. I went back inside, and just about one minute later I heard a nice loud crash (Unforeseen Issue #3):windows21

I’m not exactly sure what happened there, but I’ll just leave it at that.
About 10 days later, the new window was delivered (Thanks Milgard!), and the plywood was gone:windows15 windows16

Thankfully, we didn’t run into any unforeseen issues with the La Cantina door. Here it is with it’s gorgeous bronze finish on the exterior. And the black flashing gave us a good idea of what this side of the house would look like if we painted it charcoal (eeee! dare we!?):
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Lyle and Phoebe were instant fans of the big huge opening that the doors provide…they don’t mind the two foot drop, but alas, stage 2 of this remodel will be pouring a new patio to be flush with the house.  windows13

Bobby is also a fan of the open indoor-outdoor feel. This was a calm moment before the final kitchen demo:
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And finally, here is the La Cantina after demo…looking all beautiful and happy.windows18

One thing to be sure of when you start a remodel, there will be unforeseen issues. So remember to just breathe…it’s not the end of the world…and choose to exercise grace and patience! This will carry you through to each moment, when your project starts coming together – and it’s even better than you thought it would be!

See all the progress on our house remodel here.



Rewiring Our Creativity

studiorewire3Earlier this year, we decided that it was time for a major overhaul in Bobby’s recording space, CatBeach Studio. He was running into issues with software upgrades and hardware compatibility, not to mention the wiring throughout the studio needed some love and care. Bobby spent months researching gear and thinking through the right workflow for this particular space and his recording and producing needs.

The first piece of gear that Bobby decided on was the Neve 5060 Centerpiece Desktop Mixer. It’s analog, class-A circuitry definitely ups the quality of the monitoring signal path in the studio and gives great flexibility for summing audio in the analog realm. Just running the source tracks through the tried and true Neve transformers makes everything sound bigger and better. The board has a nice transport control for Pro Tools and also, can we all just note how ridiculously cool it’s design is!? 5060-straight-tall-1024x722To work alongside the Neve, Bobby bought two Avid Artist Mixes, basically providing hands on control with Pro Tools. For many producers and mixers, including Bobby, it’s important to have a nice tactile surface for fader and pan controls, without using a standard mouse. We decided to install two of these, which work together to give 16 physical faders that can be banked, allowing access to the maximum number of PT channels that each session requires.

artistmix_stackedAfter picking out the main pieces, we decided that we wanted to have a custom desk built that would accommodate the modules while giving them a built-in look. We found this incredible millwork artisan, Brandon at Monkwood Studio. He was game to come up with a solution to fit these pieces in to a custom walnut desk. I dropped by his shop in Fullerton, CA to get a sneak peak and saw the beautiful maple slab that he formed into the main desk unit. He showed me his plans for the custom pieces and how they would fit onto the main desk. And…check out his shark-shaped tool wall. studiorewire9studiorewire8studiorewire7Brandon delivered the desk with two rackgear units that each have 6 rack spaces. Lot’s of room and flexibility to determine the best workflow, right at Bobby’s fingertips. studiorewire6After playing around with configuration options, here’s what we put in each rackgear unit on top of the desk: 1) For recording guitars, the signal flow includes: BAE 512A mic pre’s and Chandler TG2 mic pre’s;  2) For recording vocals, the signal flow includes: Vintech X73 mic pre into the vintage UREI 1176 (in wall rack), into an Inward Connections Brute limiter. Also, notice how the two Artist Mixes and the Neve console can easily be removed from the desktop if needed. Thanks Brandon! studiorewire4As we were determining workflow, we pulled up the flooring and pulled out all of the old wiring. We installed new patch bays and cable runs which allows for greater future flexibility and better overall work flow.  It’s amazing how much wiring we ran under the floor to accommodate new gear, and even just to reposition gear in the room.studiorewire5And finally, we made new cable runs from the racks on the desk to the new patch bays in the wall racks. The rack in the picture above features the Apogee Symphony – another new addition. This rack also features a mix of vintage units: Gates Sta-Level, old Telefunken EQ’s and pre’s, and an old Blackface 1176, with modern units: Manley Elop and Massive Passive,  and an Empirical Labs Distressor.studiorewire10studio2 studio3At the end of this project, we sat back and marveled at the craftsmanship and beauty of the studio and recognized that the creativity of other artisans could breed creativity in us, if we let it. Rather than shying away from the change, or staying stuck in our own workflow and systems, we chose to embrace, and even encouraged, a new way.
So, all of the work that went into creating each piece of gear and fitting it perfectly together, is now all working to breathe new life into Bobby’s songwriting, guitar-playing and producing. This guy is inspired with new sounds and stretched to investigate new ideas. We can’t wait to start sharing the sounds and songs coming out of the fresh and sparkly CatBeach Studio!

Check out more details on the CatBeach Studio Project.