My Favorite Things::: Our Encyclopedia Set

Remember Encyclopedias? They’re dinosaurs now, for sure, long buried with the influx of technology. But, it seems like when I was younger, everyone had them.  All my friends’ families had them. Our school libraries had them. Our classrooms had them. I remember asking my teacher a question and her telling me to “look it up.” I remember sitting at the dinner table and passing around the D Encyclopedia to look up different breeds of dogs. I remember laying on the floor and looking at pictures in them long before I could understand the content. And so, it was all of these memories that came flooding back to me a few Fridays ago as we sat visiting with Sean’s grandma, watching the Tigers game and eating dessert, when she turned to Sean and offered for him to take her Encyclopedia set with us. But before we loaded them up in the car, I pulled the D Encyclopedia off the shelf and began quizzing Sean and grandma, just for remembrance sake. And now that they’re sitting into our apartment, on our library cart, I’m excited to implement these relics into our lives.

encyclo 1encyclo 2encyclo 3Hope your Monday is going well! It’s rainy here, today. Time to curl up on the couch for an early morning reading session with the kids and coffee.


My Favorite Things… Giant Metal Chicken Chalkboard

When I saw the giant metal chicken chalkboard in the store front window, I wanted to take him home. But I didn’t. It was winter and snowing and the thought of having to haul him upstairs was too much work for me. So I left him there. I kept my eye on him, though. I would wander in and say “hello giant metal chicken chalkboard” from time to time. He always wanted to come home, but I didn’t bring him home. Then, I would get home and be sad. I would wonder if he liked the darkness of the shop once the shoppers were gone and the shop keeper had turned out the lights, eager to go home and eat dinner with her family. Perched in the window sill he would watch the people wander down the sidewalk at night. Was he watching for me? Waiting for me to come get him? Probably, I would tell Sean, “Probably giant metal chicken chalkboard is looking out that window thinking “”where’s Danielle?”” Sean would just shake his head.

Then, over a squash and pepper pizza dinner with Sean in early August, I went on and on about the giant metal chicken chalkboard again; about how perfect he would be not only in our apartment, but also as a decoration for our picnic wedding. This was different diatribe than I had before, because I had the added the use of “for our wedding”. I thought it was an original idea to incorporate my love of chickens into our picnic themed wedding. I thought how cute to put my chicken collection all over the farm. I thought, if I love all my chickens that much, shouldn’t they be at our wedding?  What I didn’t think was that Sean was listening to me.

But he was.

When I came home the next day there was a beautifully written love note on top of a big flat box in our entry way. It was a hot day and I had burst into the apartment, sweating and exhausted. Seeing that note turned my day right around. I went into the kitchen where Sean was drinking a smoothie and listening to reggae, gave him a kiss and called him a  sweetie pie. He kissed my forehead and said, “but you didn’t even open it,” as he lifted the flat box and brought the gift into the middle of our living room. Much to my surprise, inside the package was my giant metal chicken chalkboard. I did a little dance around our apartment, saying “isn’t he just the cutest!?” and “aren’t you happy to finally be home giant metal chicken?” Sean said probably he was.

chx 1                         (Pardon my dirty floors).

The manager of the store where the giant metal chicken formally resided happens to be a close friend of mine. Later that night she called and said, “I love your fiance. You are one lucky girl.” To which I said, “I know,” because I really do know just how lucky I am. And now the chicken is lucky, too. Because he has a new home, with us.

chwx 2Welcome to family giant metal chicken chalkboard. We’re so happy you’ve joined us.

DIY Fabric Banner

Two Fridays ago, I started rearranging our common area furniture. This is typical to my compulsive must-rearrange-the-furniture-on-a-regular-basis-nature. But this time I decided to go a little crazy, move more furniture than normal and completely change the flow of our apartment. (Huh, don’t know why I threw out my back…) all before Sean came home from work and could call me a maniac. But I did it! And I absolutely LOVED it. But all of that feng-shui left an empty area over our radiator. And no one likes a lonely nook. So, I decided that this solitary area gave me the perfect excuse to create a fabric banner.Penant AngledNow I must disclaim that making this fabric banner was not as “spur of the moment” as I let on. I actually have been wanting to make a fabric pennant for awhile. But because I had already made a paper pennnat for our entry way, I needed to create one that was really different. After looking around stores and Pinterest for while, I decided that I would make a simple tie pennant– no sewing necessary, and I could upcycle some of my old clothing. So I put on a movie and went to work! PenantAll I did was measure out the length of twine that I wanted my banner to be.

:::Then I cut strips about four inches long from old t-shirts and cardigans. I decided to use three more muted colors, simply because Sean and I already have a lot of bright colors in our living space.

:::Next, all I did was tie the strips, in half, around the twine.

:::I looped the edges to make hanging easier, then rigged it up.

Room shot of Penant

In the end, I really liked the way it looked. I appreciate that it isn’t another piece of artwork hanging squarely over a shelf. I like that it gives a little more dimension to the space and draws the eye to the window. Plus, the tapered and jagged effect of the fabric reminds me in some ways of the edges of Tibetan Prayer Flags…. which I haven’t made, but clearly need to now.

I’ll post a few more pictures of the mess I made two Fridays ago and the great space I ended up with, soon!


Our State Storyboard:: Summer

Each season, I try to change our state storyboard to reflect our current days. How happy I am to see sand & dunes from our first trip to the beach, instead of snow drifts hanging on our storyboard these days! state board 1state board 2state board 3This is the first time that I have used clothes pins to attach pictures. What have I been waiting for? They make it much easier to rearrange photos as I get more developed. And guiltily I admit, I always try to make things as easy for myself as humanly possible.

I love that our storyboard is something people always comment on when they come over.  Having conversation pieces throughout your space helps define areas and make the environment more welcoming, more homey to guest. When people come over and see the state storyboard, they can immediately see who we are and what we enjoy. The board tells the story of our *insert gushy adjective here*life in Michigan. And that story, I have to admit is everything to us.

I wonder what our board will look like next year at this time? How will life be different? Or the same? I can’t wait to see.

Our Welcoming Pennant

Our entrance has been an ongoing project since we moved in almost one year ago. To be honest, it’s been an ongoing project mostly because it has become a storage area for all of the things we want to get rid of. (If anyone wants a loom, let me know!) But walking into a place and being met with junk and bare walls isn’t exactly the first impression I want to share with visitors. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to start this project…slowly by surely, one foot in front of the other… now we are going…

Step One: A Welcome Sign.

Because our walls are concrete and impossible to hang things on, I knew I needed something I would be able to creatively rig up. Also, the wall in our entrance is very long, so I wanted something that could cover the vastness it presents. In the end, I decided I wanted to make a pennant. So I did. And I definitely love it. we love you parttape of signentire welcome signupward angle of welcomeAnd hanging, it still is. Thanks for stopping in! You’re always welcome here.

From Pinterest to Reality #3: My “New” Shutters

Sean and I had an idea to make a mail organizer out of shutters. It was a good idea. A very good idea. But in the end, the idea didn’t pan out as expected. And you know what? That’s okay, too.

I found these shutters at a little shop down the road. The shop is jammed packed with found items. Literally, there are hundreds of things packed into this little shop wall to wall, floor to ceiling. There’s no organization, which I don’t really mind, because with all that stuff, you have to go through it carefully and slowly, so as not to miss anything. When I saw these little shutters, I just had to get them. I was especially happy because they were only $1.50. What’s not to like about that? original shuttersshutters orginal 2

They were a little rough, as you can see, but I had a vision. After some lots of cleaning, I decided to paint them orange to help bring in the orange of the dresser we painted a few months ago. Once they were painted, I really liked the way they looked: a little Brady Bunch-esque, a little vintage— my favorite combination! But I also thought that they were just a little too cute to clutter up with mail. So, I gave them a prominent place on our recently organized shelf. shutters finished 2shutters finished 1

I really like the simple statement they make in the place. And even though they weren’t quite what I originally wanted, I am very pleased with them. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes our best ideas are really mistakes, and sometimes these mistakes end up being our favorites!

Displaying and Organizing Our Collections

As a child I was a bit of a hoarder. I just loved collecting things. And hiding things, too. But that’s another issue. Over the years, I’ve gotten good at letting go of things and purging on a regular basis. But, as I was cleaning and rearranging this weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how many things Sean and I collect!

Our offenses include:

First there are our book collections- Classic American Literature books, very old french books, books we read & books we want to read. Also we have our plants, which we consider to be more like children than collections. Then, there are is my fetish for buying things to put more things in, which has led to my old box and crates collection. Not to mention my blue glass mason jars and antique tins collection, as well as Sean’s small clay pots collection. And to finish it off, both Sean and I have collections of rocks, sand and coral we’ve collected from different places we’ve lived. Whoa!

After purchasing the library cart, I was forced to rearrange our apartment. In the process, I began gathering and organizing our collectibles.  Looking at my things scattered across the living room floor, I quickly realized that I didn’t want to purge any of them. In fact, I really liked all of these things and I would have been sad to see them go. Unlike the other things we’ve accumulated, these were quality items with amazing sentimental value. Plus, I firmly feel that the difference between a house and a home, is the stories that your things tell. And so, instead of pitching them, I made them a priority.

I used to have these collections spread all over our apartment. But this time, I decided that I would group them. The results made such a huge difference in our space! Now, all of these things we love are better displayed, organized and ready to share their stories.Shelf with Jars 13 mason jarsbooks with card holderJarsrocks in jarstop of dresser

So what are your collection offenses? Please say I’m not the only one…

Library Cart

This is the cart, the library cart that I have been dreaming about. Library cart in sunlight

It came from a store, a store down the block, that sells the best stuff, including the cart, the library cart that I have been dreaming about.

Top shelf of Library Cart

When I saw the cart it made me gasp, after I went in the store just down the block, that sells the best stuff, including the cart, the library cart that I have been dreaming about.

I told the man to “load it up!” when I saw the cart that made me gasp, after I went in the store just down the block, that sells the best stuff, including the cart, the library cart that I have been dreaming about. Library cart angled

I brought it home and got to work! Cleaning and moving, purging and rearranging, making a home for the cart that the man loaded up, that made me gasp, after I went in the store just down the block, that sells the best stuff, including the cart, the library cart that I have been dreaming about!

PS: you should totally stop in to Hunt and Gatherer next time you’re in Grand Rapids… You won’t regret it!