Saturday, November 30, 2013

Prairie School Farms studio - a dream realized

 Today is the first day for our little studio space in the small town near where we live.  We have always wanted to own a little store and while our full-time jobs won't let us have store in the truest sense of the word, we can use this cute little building for a studio with a little retail space.

We were in town to drop off some yarn for our friend who is making some Christmas stockings for us.  She needed more yarn and we thought we would just deliver it over the weekend.  On the way back to the house, we noticed that this little building was for sale.  Since we had been weighing some options, including renting a storage unit, buying a space that could double for storage/working and could be open for sales looked like a great option.
 Last night we put together this sidewalk message board to welcome our friends and customers.
 We have loved decorating with these wine barrel ring spheres.  We have also loved our concrete planters - another one of my accidental collections.  We were hoping to have something to establish our entrance and the pair of planters looked right at home.
 My husband has a really great eye.  He designed our signs and painted them last night.
 We wanted to have a few things out in front of the store and decided that some of the recycled wood items would be a good fit (and hold up to the little bit of melting ice we still have left from the last winter weather).
 We installed barn wood from my family's farm on the focal point wall.  It is the perfect backdrop for my husband's signs.
 We made the 'joy' signs last night.  We had a lot of fun choosing colors and painting them together.
 Our little collection of glass and plastic ornaments (some vintage) are displayed on the wreath.
 This is a mix of all kinds of treasures - some jewelry, jars, a sign, vintage apothecary jars, maracas, and more.
 One of my favorite things in the shop right now is the vintage wagon we found at my family farm. It is perfect for a holiday display on someone's porch.
 We have two doors with chippy paint to display signs in one of our windows.  It is so much fun to see everything together.
We have an awesome bedroom set on display, along with a lot of cute smalls.  The "be full of joy" sign with the canning jar is super sweet and I can't wait to see who buys it.

Overall, we have had a great start to the day - friendly people and nice traffic.  We couldn't ask for a better start for out little space.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vintage finds: A Chicago map and a lesson learned

 Ok, so the map isn't really vintage, rather reproduction.  We found it this summer at P.O.S.H. and I had every good intention of getting it framed and installed in our bedroom.

I thought I had it all figured out - buy a frame off the shelf and it would be ready to go.  Well the print size was between two frame sizes and after buying a frame off the shelf and thinking through buying custom cut matte board and mounting it and the stress of making sure it was aligned correctly and discovering that the frame had huge gouges, I scrapped that idea.  Can you feel my (unnecessary) stress?

Plan B:  take it to the big box retailer who has helped with framing before.  They had made a mistake on some custom framing about a year ago, but I thought I could give them a try again.  After several weeks of delay and me calling a few times to check on the status, I finally got word it was ready to pick up.  I was so excited and promptly took it home.  When I unwrapped it, the frame had scratches and gouges.  I was so puzzled.  A custom frame shouldn't get beat up, should it?  I weighed the cost-benefit of taking it back and knew that the imperfections (at that price) would bother me.  So, back I went.  They offered a 10% discount or to reframe it.  I opted for the reframing.

Plan C:  reframe it.  After a few weeks of not hearing anything, I ran into the store to check on the status.  The frame had just been ordered because of a mix up - come back tomorrow.  I went back the next day and it is not done.  They had the new frame and showed it to me - it had scratches and gouges, too!  What did I want to do?  I asked them to cut my print out of the Plan B frame and refund my money.  The poor girl at the check out asked me why I was requesting the refund.  I'm sure there was no code in her register for the story that I gave her, unless they have a catch all "customer is crazy" code.

Plan D:  go to the parking lot and search frame shops on my cell phone.  I found a locally owned shop on the west side of town.  I called and they were open long enough for me to make the drive.  The lady was so super nice and the price estimate was less than the big box store.  She said she would have it finished by next Thursday.

Guess what?  She called on that Monday and it was ready.  The print looked beautiful and I was reminded of a very important lesson - shop local!  The customer service was excellent and her work was perfect.  We are really pleased with how it turned out.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Home T

With a job on a college campus, I see many, many t-shirts in any given year.  Some of the designs are funny, some are inappropriate, and some are both.  And, some of the designs are simply awesome.  I count the Home. t's in this category.

I saw a student sporting one of these shirts several months ago and asked him about it.  He have me the quick version.

The Home T-shirt donates a portion of their profits to multiple sclerosis research.  They have a design for states and countries, all marked with "home."  You can get these awesome soft t's or baby onesies or tote bags.  I had to resist the tote bag because I have a weakness - a serious obsession with all shapes and sizes of totes, reusable shopping bags, and purses.

I love the t-shirt for the feel and fit and the awesome message of being proud of our often overlooked state.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"Always Go To The Funeral"

A friend posted this beautiful essay by Deirdre Sullivan, Always Go To The FuneralThe essay was part of NPR's This I Believe series.

Sullivan's words rang true for me.  Over the years, I have adopted the idea that you go to the funeral or the visitation, even if it is a hard thing.  This has been a deliberate decision because I have friends and family who stand squarely on both sides of the issue - to attend or not. The reasons behind their decision make sense - it can be an inconvenience and an emotional event that is hard to manage and you can always just send a card.  At the same time, it can mean so much to the family to see people show up...just to show up and be there in the space, to provide solace and to stand together.  Even if you don't know what to say, I have found that "I am so sorry for your loss," may be all that is necessary.

How do I draw the courage or overcome the inconvenience?  I say to myself before and after, "This is a hard thing.  We do hard things."  One of my favorite authors Anne Lamott in her book, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers talks about doing hard things.  She reminds us about hard things like picking up the "two-hundred-pound phone" to call a difficult family member to ask after them, even if they are long-winded and have some quirkiness.  We all have those refreshingly odd, or annoying, or simply crazy relatives who need our love and attention.  In Sullivan's words, "the small gesture that you don't really have to and definitely don't want to" make.

In her essay, Sullivan recalls as a young woman attending "calling hours" for a former teacher.  It made me think back to attending the first funeral I can remember.  I must have been three or four years old and my grandparents were watching me during the week.  My mom was perplexed.  My grandma had an appointment and my grandpa was planning to attend a funeral and he said he would take me along.  My mom wasn't sure.  She didn't want me to be traumatized.  My grandpa negotiated - we would arrive late and sit in the back and he was sure it was a closed casket.  I listened while the adults talked through the situation and I was fascinated - this must be a big deal given all of the discussion.  I felt special that I was going to get to go. My grandpa asked me if I thought it was ok to attend.  I responded in the most inappropriate way, "Yeah, it will be fun!"  My grandpa couldn't help but smile and then he gently explained that it wouldn't be fun, but rather sad and he made sure I understood.  I remember getting dressed up and singing along with hymns while we stood at the back of the church because we arrived late enough for the casket to be at the front of the church.  Standing room only - the sign of a good funeral.

As my grandpa grew older, he continued to go to funerals.  He would sometimes confide that the crowd was getting smaller at each funeral because all of his friends were passing away.  He was outliving them.  Still, until his own funeral, and the short time before when he was unable to leave the house, he went to the funeral.

Sullivan's essay reminds us to "always go to the funeral" for the family and to also use this practice as a guide for life.  She says,
"Always go to the funeral" means that I have to do the right thing when I really, really don't feel like it. I have to remind myself of it when I could make some small gesture, but I don't really have to and I definitely don't want to. I'm talking about those things that represent only inconvenience to me, but the world to the other guy. You know, the painfully under-attended birthday party. The hospital visit during happy hour. The Shiva call for one of my ex's uncles. In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn't been good versus evil. It's hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.
In going to funerals, I've come to believe that while I wait to make a grand heroic gesture, I should just stick to the small inconveniences that let me share in life's inevitable, occasional calamity.

On a cold April night three years ago, my father died a quiet death from cancer. His funeral was on a Wednesday, middle of the workweek. I had been numb for days when, for some reason, during the funeral, I turned and looked back at the folks in the church. The memory of it still takes my breath away. The most human, powerful and humbling thing I've ever seen was a church at 3:00 on a Wednesday full of inconvenienced people who believe in going to the funeral.
I am being challenged to do the hard thing in a couple of other areas of my life - to show up when I would really rather not.  For several weeks, I have been trying to justify and find a way to feel ok about not showing up when I know it is going to be inconvenient and uncomfortable to be in the space.  This essay came along at the right time to remind me to do good instead of nothing.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Vintage finds, new treasures

 I am a sucker for vintage anything and am a big fan of buying little items that "speak to me."  Over the years, I have learned that when you see something you love and if you can justify the purchase, you should make the purchase.

My husband has started to know when to encourage me - mostly because he got tired of us leaving a little town and me telling him that we had to go back to get some little item or another.

I have picked up a few things over the summer and this early fall that have been added to our collections.

In our kitchen, we have a few food labels incorporated in different places.  On our way to a wedding this summer, we stopped in a little shop and I found the end of a wooden apple box that has been framed.  The label was in beautiful shape and the subject was Chelan View Washington Apples from Wenatchee, Washington.  I visited this great little town in college and loved the colors on the label - perfect for my kitchen.  Emotional and practical reasons to purchase, right?

In May, we traveled to Texas for my mom and I to participate in an adventure race and I found the photo of the little boy in full cowboy gear on a Shetland pony.  There were a few copies of this great photo in an antique store in Waxahachie, Texas.  This is the kind of souvenir that I really treasure.

Recently, I found the early primitive bowl and the sweet print of the peaches.  The print drew my attention because on the back it has a stamp for the Franklin Frame Company of Chicago.  It looks like a penciled in price for $1.51.  These finds were from Rerun Consignments in Council Grove.

And, two more finds from Rerun - the hymnal and the handmade pumpkin.  The hymnal is a beautiful old book with so much soul.  The cover has gorgeous color and artwork.  And, the pumpkin is made of hand dyed wool - very cute and perfect for the season.

While I have been carefully selecting new additions for the house, I have also been doing some cleaning and culling.  A little effort here and there has helped things feel refreshed before winter.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Plant geek: fall colors

 There are few falls in my memory that have featured the brilliant colors of foliage as we have enjoyed this year.  You can find brilliant reds, yellows and browns across our Kansas landscape.  I find myself really amazed at the colors that are appearing and staying on the trees around our home and on the campus.

I am particularly
 taken by the tree near one of our chapels on campus.  It has slowly turned from green to this beautiful rust color.  Perhaps what makes it so striking is the oxidized copper roof in the background.  I love the contrast of the green patina and the rusty looking leaves.  I also pass this tree on the walk to and from my car each day and see it as a great sight to bookend my work day.
 We enjoyed some rainy fall days this week.  Rainy fall days are some of my favorite!  I took this photo near our library at the end of the work day, one that was cloudy, cool and rainy.
I can't forget this beauty.  It is in my line of sight when I exit the north doors of my building.  This tree usually has some color, but this year, it has out done itself.  If I remember right, in most years, this tree will drop all leaves all at once...beautiful color one day and gone after a day of strong wind or a hard freeze overnight.

This fall has been a perfect way to ease into the winter ahead.