Diary of a SubUrban Housewife

June 27, 2005

How Many WASPs Does it Take?

Filed under: Angel Music,My Old Man — Beth @ 9:36 pm

It was home improvement night here at Casa Atkins.

I say night because it seems that, regardless of the fact that there might be nothing specific of the agenda for the day, all home improvement seems to start at sunset. This applies to nearly every project–from repair of fence posts, i.e., outdoor projects, to such indoor projects as replacing a fixture. A lesser man would not attempt any of these sorts of things in the dark. But my husband is obviously not of the “lesser man” variety.

So tonight was no different and round about sunset Chuck decided to install the new fixture we recently purchased, in the guest bathroom. The fixture in question was basically an impulse purchase from Costco (it cost something like $19.99 and it’s cute so we couldn’t pass it up).

I turned the power off to the bathroom in question. There was much swearing and stomping as Chuck searched for a working flashlight (because recall that it’s dark out now so there’s no ambient light to work by–again…see the lesser man reference above). Then the project commenced. Chuck uninstalled the existing fixture and attached the bracket for the new fixture. Then came the part in this party where he went to install the fixture to the bracket.

But oops….the fixture is centered over the medicine cabinet and directly to the left of the medicine cabinet is a wall. And oops, the fixture is longer than the space available. Chuck’s new plan was to remove the finial-type thingie at the end of the fixture on the wall side but I was having none of that.

So Chuck pulled the old fixture out of the trash and reinstalled it.

At this point I suggested boxing the fixture up and returning it to Costco. But noooooooooo. He was going to install it in Zoe’s bathroom now. And just so you know, he was going to do that originally but changed his mind after looking at the wiring in there or something, but now that it didn’t fit in the guest bathroom suddenly it was a good idea all over again.

So Zoe and I left to go shopping. It seemed like the right thing to do.

We returned home about an hour later and Chuck announced that the fixture had been installed. Great. I missed the cussing, stamping, and attendant drama that all home improvement projects involve. And I didn’t have to hold the flashlight, because by this time it was full dark outside.

Yes, the fixture was up, but for some unknown reason it wasn’t working.


I was puttering around putting my purchases away when I heard Chuck call Zoe into her bathroom. He had pulled the fixture off the wall and was checking all the wire connections and having her turn all the switches on. He had overhead light. He had heat lamp. He had fan. But the fixture–over the sink–still didn’t work.

It was a puzzlement I tell you.

Until I asked him if he used the switch next to the sink–the only that actually works the above the sink fixture. I flipped the switch. The light went on.

Angel music. Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Editor’s note: my husband is not actually a WASP, he’s a nice Irish Catholic boy, but that just wasn’t nearly as funny–to me at least.

June 26, 2005

It Seemed It Was About Time

Filed under: All About Me,Family Stuff — Beth @ 12:39 pm

Yesterday Chuck and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Gifts were exchanged. And due to a babysitting snafu, Zoe joined us on our date (but since she was there for the wedding–albeit microscopically–it seemed almost appropriate that she be there for the anniversary celebration).

It was a lovely, if low-key, day.

It seems each year, for as many years as I’ve had a web presence, I’ve written about it. (Yeah, I’m lazy, so feel free to scour archives if you really care to.)

But this year, in addition to material things exchanged, I made a change. A big one for me.

Yes, after ten years of marriage, I’ve decided to start using my husband’s last name. (I laughed out loud as I typed that because it seems vaguely comical.)

Why start now? Why at all? Why didn’t I 10 years ago?

Since we’ve been married I’ve typically used two last names, no hyphen. I’m here to tell you this has caused immesurable confusion. When in situations where you have to line up under the letter of your last name to register for something, for example, I never knew if I’d be under “R” for the first last name or “A” for the other last name. No one could grasp the lack of hyphen.

Think: Hillary Rodham Clinton–note two last names, no hyphen. But I’m guessing she doesn’t usually have to worry about which line to queue up in.

The only place I was always Mrs. Atkins was at the pediatrician. It just seemed easiest. But everywhere else I was Beth Reinstein or Beth Reinstein Atkins. At my old job, everyone knew me pre-marriage, so they stuck with Reinstein, or my personal favorite Beth RA (my superhero name).

The thing is Reinstein, my maiden name is ethnic sounding. Beth Reinstein, a nice Jewish girl. Beth Atkins–sounds vagule WASPy. I’m not that. I couldn’t embrace it.

Then there was the fact that I was 35 when Chuck and I got married. I’d been Beth Reinstein for a good long time and that’s who I was. I couldn’t quite get my head around taking someone else’s name.

So it’s been two last names no hyphen for 10 years.

But I figure after 10 years it’s time. So now I’m official Beth Atkins. Happy Anniversary honey. I love you.

June 21, 2005


Filed under: Photos,The Animals — Beth @ 11:53 pm

Sammy came home today!


You can feel free to tell me how cute she is.

June 12, 2005

Sew Happy

Filed under: Photos,Quilting — Beth @ 12:24 am

When I last talked about quilting I was in the midst of all manner of drama getting started, killing two sewing machines, and having my favorite machine held hostage by the repairman.

I’m pleased to report that the machine made it home, exorcised, cleaned, and otherwise repaired for the measley sum of $164.

In the meantime, because I really now think that all the sewing machine problems had to do with the fabric that I originally bought for Jill’s quilt because every time I got close to that project and fabric something else went wrong, I decided that was not the best choice for a baby and went out and bought all new fabric and started the quilt all over again.

So yeah, I bought all new fabric and started the project all over again. This time I went with bright colors based on a piece of really cute blue fabric with planets and stars on it. I went with orange, green, aqua and yellow–cheerful happy baby colors. And I found a deliciously soft flannel with little baby turtles on it for the backing.

Zip zip zip, the quilt went together in a flash because it was strip pieced. I’m telling you, a crib sized quilt went together in about three hours.

But ha…things are never that simple.

I have this theory. Things take a certain amount of time to do. Traffic for example. Your commute to work is typically, umm…let’s say…an hour (OK, I live in Los Angeles–it’s all relative). Then one day by some miracle you get to work in…umm…let’s say…15 minutes. You think you scored, right? I can absolutely, positively guarantee you that one day later in the very same week it’s going to take you an hour and 45 minutes to get to work. That’s because your drive is an hour. End of discussion. So you may save some time one day, but you’re going to have to make up for it.

The same thing goes for making a quilt. It’s going to take X amount of time. If it takes you Y time to complete one portion of the quilt you’re going to pay for it.

And that was the case with this little zippy three hour quilt. Because, you see, you cannot make a quilt (or at least I cannot) in three hours.

The pattern called for a ruffle around it which involved a whole other level of drama because I do not have a ruffle foot (yet) for my sewing machine, so it involved stripping together enormously long lengths of fabric, basting it and gathering it and then pinning it to the quilt top and sewing it on.

So I finally get the ruffle sewed onto the quilt top and get the batting, backing, and quilt top sandwiched together. Zip zip zip.

I do the quilting (versus the piecing which is actually is the process of making the quilt top; the quilting is what you do when you have the top, middle, and back all put together–it’s the sewing design). The quilting goes quickly becuase it’s very simple in the ditch. (OK, you can go here and read all about these different things if you want to learn more about quilting.)

So quilt top done. Quilt put together and quilted. Zip zip zip. I’ve invested maybe 6 1/2 hours now. But we’re still at the Y amount of time. Because apparently I cannot finish an entire quilt in 6 1/2 hours.

You see, at every single intersection of squares, the pattern called for a bow. A bow made out of ribbon that’s about 1/8 of an inch wide. You cut the ribbon about 4 1/2 inches long and then make it into a little bow and sew it on.

There were 126 little intersections where bows needed to be sewn onto this quilt. Yes.


Virtually every night this week I’d come home and create these itty bitty little bows and then sew them onto the quilt. And when you’re eyes, like the rest of you, are 45 years old, sitting there doing itty bitty close up work takes a bit longer than it used to–when your eyes weren’t quite so old.

I finished the quilt, finally, late Friday night, with plenty of time to give it a final wash and dry before the baby shower at 2 this afternoon.

In case you care (OK, I’m making you care), here’s a picture of the finished product:

Jilly's quilt

And because there were 126 little bows on the quilt, you must have a moment with the bows:


June 9, 2005


Filed under: Donate!,Fabulous Stuff,Webishness — Beth @ 11:51 pm

There’s that old expression, when life serves you lemons, make lemonade.

As is true with all old expressions, it’s often easier said than done. And while it’s do-able, I guess what separates us from the animals (besides our ability to accessorize) and from each other, is that some of us do it with style and grace. Or maybe I should say Grace.

Because that is exactly what the birthday vixen, GraceDavis has done.

Last holiday season GraceDavis got some hate mail. In response to the hate mail on two separate occasions, for each and every comment Grace got in her blog, she donated her own personal money to the Matthew Shepard Foundation and Planned Parenthood.

Well once again GraceDavis is being plagued by asshats. And what do you suppose GraceDavis, on the eve of her 50th birthday, is doing about this?

Well once again GraceDavis is reaching deep into her own personal pockets and donating money in exchange for comments. Why do I tell you this?

For two reasons.

1. Because I think it is one of the most selfless things I’ve seen anyone do in a very long time.


2. Because this time in exchange for every comment Grace receives in response to this entry, posted before midnight on Friday, she will be donating $1 (and this is on top of her already extremely generous personal donation) to my upcoming participation in the Avon Breast Cancer Marathon.

I was so deeply touched by this that when I read about it this morning I cried.

All this to say three things:

1. Happy 50th Grace dearest.

2. Thank you.

3. If you haven’t already done so, go go go, quick like a bunny and read her blog. Comment if you like, but mostly go read her blog.

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

Filed under: Politics — Beth @ 12:14 am

Overheard soundbyte:

President Bush: I really work to keep expectations low.

June 3, 2005

I Think My Husband Is Gay

Filed under: My Old Man — Beth @ 1:13 pm

When a commercial for Bravo’s Series Blow Out came on the TV this afternoon, my husband positively squealed with delight.

June 1, 2005


Filed under: Work Stuff — Beth @ 6:01 pm

The building I work in most frequently houses not only my client, but General Dynamics as well.

Every single time I see the sign for General Dynamics I can’t help but think of YoYoDyne Propulsion Systems. I wonder if I check the employee directory if I’ll find a listing for John Bigboote?