Saturday, October 25, 2014

Plant geek: O'Hare Urban Garden

  I made it to the airport with plenty of time for my return trip home.  The extra breathing room gave me a few minutes to check out one of my favorite places at Chicago O'Hare - the urban garden near gate G.

It was super early, but really full of passengers.  It makes me think that the secret is out.  It's a quiet place to work, though the chairs are not super comfortable and the one outlet I could find was not working.  (In the traveler's world, electric power is everything.  People scout out and guard outlets like they are gold.)

It was fun to see the growing tubes and all of the different varieties of herbs and greens.
 If you are toward G, just look up for the signs and you may even be able to see the plants. There is seating all around the outside of the garden.
I am really fascinated by how they set up the growing structures.
 The signage tells explains that they use the plants in some of the airport restaurants.
I found a place to set up and work and was enjoying the quiet and relative dark space.  And, then, the lights came on! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Plant geek: Fall containers

This week was a whirlwind of travel for work.  I actually arrived early for one of my appointments.  My early arrival was a function of being paranoid about traffic.  The previous day included a drive that was planned for one hour and ended up being three hours! At the risk of being late, I left well before sunrise.

When I made it to the charming little town, I did was I usually do - looked for a Starbucks.  You can bet on clean restrooms and a chance to grab something with caffeine.

On the walk back to my car, I saw this great little restaurant with the BEST fall arrangements.

Check out the window boxes.  I love the variety of textures and the height. 
When I was messing with the photos, I tried it in black and white.  When the color was removed the arrangement was still just as striking.

Near the door, this beautiful topiary was installed.  Love it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Vintage finds: fall studio tour

Fall is our favorite season.  Though, I also make a strong case for loving spring, especially after a long Kansas winter.  Come to think of it, decorating for the winter holidays is also pretty spectacular. Perhaps I should just say that currently, fall is my favorite season. We will leave it at that.

We have had a ton of fun displaying items at the studio.  When we unpacked from the Kansas Barn Sale, we also found a few more treasures that we had forgotten to take with us for the show.  This means that we have some great pieces at the studio and some that we have been trying to incorporate in our booth spaces.

I am loving some these pieces and am constantly engaging in the "keep or sell" debate.
 We purchased our pumpkins from a student at our local high school.  I love some of the unusual colors and shapes.  The smaller pumpkins are super cute!
 The large pumpkins are made from the same materials as brooms - unusual and lovely.  They make great anchors for displays or center pieces.
 These photos are from a couple of weeks ago...a few of the things have already sold. The signs have also turned over after the Pumpkin Patch and my favorite sign maker is restocking with a goal of four new signs a day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vintage finds: little cowboy boots

 I have had my eye out for a little kid's pair of cowboy boots - in red, if at all possible - since I passed on a pair at the Vintage Treasure Market over a year ago.

Last weekend, we hit the jackpot!

In one of our usual vintage store haunts, I saw at the top of a booth in the very corner the sweetest little, well-worn pair of cowboy boots in red.  I loved everything about them - even the well worn heels.  (What was this kid doing?  Did he/she use his/her heels for breaks when riding a bike or bulldogging a steer?)

So, they are unbelievably cute and I am a testament to the notion that miniatures are irresistible. 
How can you not love these boots?  I think they are the perfect addition to my kitchen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts on Happiness

While cleaning up my blog, I found a half written post about happiness that I started last spring.  It was one that needed to sit - it needed time to rest and for me to reflect and refine my thoughts.

Most people know that I am a learner by nature and I might be into learning about a wide variety of topics at any one time.  For example, I dove really deep into studying The Depression Era a couple of years ago, especially Depression Era photography.  It was fascinating, but made for some strange cocktail party conversation, unless I was hanging out with historians. (I know, my husband puts up with a lot of weirdness.)

Happiness and what makes people happy is another area of deep fascination.

I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and have recommended the book so many times that I think people are tired of listening to me, so they read it.! (And, they love it!)  I read her following book Happier at Home and have already pre-ordered her book on habits, Better Than Before.  I am a little obsessed - she is an excellent, smart and accessible writer.  She makes me think and want to be better. And, she writes about happiness and I am hungry for ideas about sustaining happiness in the middle of a busy, wonderful and challenging life.

I tend to be more on the positive side, but like most, my happiness can dip and I question if I am at right place at the right time, if I am doing enough to live my know the drill. The age old question - am I doing life right?

And, then, this week, I responded to some questions from my mentee who was asking really important questions about life, career and her future. Here is some of what I told her:
...When college came around, a whole new world opened up.  I met some really great my heart broken into a thousand pieces twice...recovered, learned some stuff, made decisions, made friends, had some adventures, made memories, and worried about whether I was doing it right the whole time!  It's part of life.
I stumbled on an article, How Happiness Changes with Age in The Atlantic.  I especially loved this part:
The older we get, the more we want to hang on to what we've already got -- the things we've worked so hard to achieve. We also have more experience with pain and loss, having been knocked around a bit by life, and having learned a few lessons the hard way.
I think I am starting to get it - our understanding of happiness and what makes us happy evolves over time, born out of experiences - good and bad.  We continue to worry that we are "doing it right" - however you define right - no matter how old we get, but we get a little better about figuring it out.

Here are some things that I have figured out about my own happiness.  I am happier when I:

Practice self-care on a regular basis.  This is the stuff that feels frivolous and like a waste of time, but is so fundamental to staying healthy and positive - massages, using moisturizer, eating right, running (or walking, it doesn't matter, just being active), reading good writing, writing (some mostly passable stuff worth reading, but it's my truth/story), practicing yoga, sleep (more than four hours, which I am usually below that standard when I am stressed or thinking too hard about something).  You get the idea.

Take my own advice.  One of the benefits of my job is a lot of drive time during most weeks.  Drive time is the best time to sort out my thoughts.  Often, I find myself really torn up about something and then I'll imagine that a friend is asking me for advice about the issue and I imagine what I would tell my friend and suddenly, I have clarity.  It's amazing that when you live in the frame, it is so hard to see the whole picture.

Do nice things for people who have no way or reciprocating. Enough said.  Kindness and generosity just feel good.

Own who I am. This summer I declared that I am not an easy going person.  This is no news flash to anyone who knows me well, but I have been expending a lot of energy over the past 39 years trying to pretend like I am easy going.  No more.  Here is some earlier writing I did about my personality:
I am not an easy going person.  As much as I would like to say that I take things as they come and have an abundance of patience, the truth – the real, gritty and unpopular truth – is that I am intense, stubborn and impatient.  When taking personality assessments, I aspire to mark the “easy going” choice on questions, but when I am really truthful with myself, I mark the “intense and uptight” choices.  My personality characteristics in isolation seem negative, but they actually have served me really well.  I owe much of my professional success to being focused, determined, and quick to action. 

A friend who knew I was going through a rough time gave me a holiday card in which she penned really touching and wise advice.  She said that we were in a canoe and my husband and I each had a paddle.  She gave us permission to “just float” for a while.  I loved this.  I repeated this phrase over and over again for a month.  After sitting with this advice for some time, I discovered it fit me like a coat that was three sizes too big.  I aspired to “just float,” yet my true core is a fighter…a paddler.  Give me a body of water that is smooth as glass and I am out there paddling away as if I was in a river riddled with rapids.  I don’t “just float” and that is my problem and my gift.

My husband is the same way. I just watched him scramble some eggs.  Most people use a modest heat and gently scrape the pan and urge the eggs to doneness.  Not my husband.  He scrambles them, stirring and churning and whipping them into a froth – on high heat.  I have also witnessed him battle two chronic illnesses that are sometimes incredibly painful and the antidote – exercise, painful and grinding exercise.  He is willing to push his body and do the unthinkable – run a few miles when he is in terrible pain.  He battles.  He fights a hero’s fight.  We are not easy going people.
Do really important work, hard work, impossible work.  Get dirty. I love many things about my life, but I most love that my job is demanding and I feel like I use my strengths to make a difference.  Most of what I do is knowledge-based, but I do have carry some heavy boxes every now and again.  Our hobbies and outside interests are more gritty - gardening, repurposing things, digging for vintage treasures - all hard, sweaty and dirty jobs that bring me a great deal of satisfaction.

Travel. Seeing new places feeds my soul. I am pretty disciplined and can easily get into a routine and when I am entrenched in a routine, I begin to let life roll by. A change of scenery goes me so much good and it often slows me down to really enjoy the little things.  I am someone who loves the city as much as I love the country.  There are times I long to be in the city to have access to fine dining, theater, major league sports, outrageous people watching, big museums and galleries, and retail therapy of all kinds.  However, when I am in the city, I long for our little country home and time in the quiet.  I miss the stars and hearing the coyotes. Travel gives me the best of both worlds - new adventures and the thrill of returning to a home we love.

Homekeeping and traditional "women's work" grounds me. There are so many great memories that I hold from working alongside strong and resourceful women in my family.  I still get a great deal of stress relief from hearing freshly canned jars of food from the garden seal - that pop means everything.  Washing dishes or baking a pie or planning a big family meal makes me feel so connected across generations and like I have a small part in carrying on traditions.

I need lists and plans.  This goes back to my revelation that I am not easy going. Lists and plans give me comfort.

Listening to music. Let me be clear.  I am not musical, but I love music of all genres.  I get stuck on some favorite artists and listen to them over and over again.  My current favorites are Ray LaMontagne, OneRepublic, The Black Keys, and George Strait. I also had a few summer jams like Southern Sun by Boy and Bear and Another Story by The Head and the Heart.

Friends and family. I am truly the luckiest person to be supported by so many truly kind people.  When I think about how others have held me up and surrounded me with love and support over the years, I just know that I am blessed beyond measure.  My favorite conversations are those with dear friends who I haven't talked to in months and we are able to pick up right where we left off.

And, there is more for me to figure out and refine.  I am just getting started.

A long overdue update...about the church

As many of you know, we bought my childhood church.  We are so excited and so overwhelmed with our work schedules.  Our progress has been so much slower than we had hoped.  But....

A win!  We learned that our first step in the process of having the church listed with the National and/or State Historical Societies is complete.  We finished the Preliminary Site Information Questionnaire, submitted all of the documentation and heard back with some favorable comments and a lot of great suggestions.

Now, if we can just find the time to move onto the next steps.  Our top two priorities - decisions on the roof and working on the historical registry research and application.  

I thought you might like to see a couple of the pictures I had on my phone...the lovely old books and other treasures in one of the cabinets.

 And, this little gem...the attendance roster from my Sunday school class from back in the day.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Kansas Barn Sale Recap

 We are celebrating the end of a fantastic day at the Kansas Barn Sale.

The day began a little on the cold side.  I was confident that I had packed plenty of layers, but not confident that any of them actually went together.  Most of the day, my mom and husband had to answer my question - "Do I look normal?"  I asked a lot because as the day warmed up, I kept peeling off layers and I was constantly worried that in losing a layer, I began to look more uncoordinated.

We stayed overnight with friends who live about 30 miles away from Hesston.  Our morning began pretty early and we enjoyed a quick ride to the show.

As we started to unpack the truck, we were witness to a beautiful sunrise.  It was one of those mornings where it seemed like the sky was on a dimmer switch.
 We had a great view of the sunrise and before we knew it, it was show time!
There were so many people who attended the show!  The line to go through the gate was unbelievable.
 We had a lot of fun putting everything together.  We have been collecting things for this show for an entire year.
 My husband has been creating so many cool new signs.
 We had several things that we hoped would find good homes, including this great bench.  (Mission accomplished, though it did hitch a ride back home with us for a delivery.)
 The wine ring spheres were by far one of our most popular items.  I loved this because my dad  helped us put them together.
 We had little sections  - a display of sewing items and a display of cooking items.
 I was so happy that both of the big welcome signs went home with someone.
 I am a big fan of fall displays and those what we threw together with the wine ring spheres and pumpkins were some of my favorites.
 The chicken waters with the star designs drilled into them were some of my favorite.
I have to admit that there is this moment just before the show begins that I am in love with our display.  We have worked so hard and have things just how we want them...and then things get chaotic. My husband gets a huge kick out of watching my compulsion for resetting things.

When it was all said and done, we had a great day.  My favorite thing is reconnecting with some of our old friends.  We have so many great people who love junking and handmade items as much as us.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Preview of the Kansas Barn Sale

 We are preparing for our second time as an vendor at the Kansas Barn Sale near Hesston.

The weather forecast is perfect.  The site is incredible.  The shopping is spectacular and we meet the nicest people and reconnect with old friends.

Here are a few photos as a preview to Saturday's sale.

The barn is the centerpiece to the show and all around it you will find vendors with as much vintage, antique, handmade, unique and fall themed items as you can possibly see.
You will know you found the place when you see the old pickup at the edge of the drive.
 The barn looks especially magical at night.  If you have the chance, go to the Emma Creek Barn page to see the venue in action for weddings and other events.
 I do enjoy the rustic and western vibe.  Even the doors to the restrooms look cool.
Here is a preview of our space...first the bare bones structure pieces...
 We had a terrible time trying to make the slope in our space work.  We have a pretty steep rise from the front to the back and it made for a bit of a challenge to keep things level.
 Some doors waiting for signs.  I really need the two captains chairs with chippy paint to go to good homes.  I love was a tough keep or sell decision.
 This is the ugly before the pretty.  We had to lay out a lot of things to get an idea of what we had packed.  So much good stuff!
 More foundation pieces...waiting for all of the smalls.
 I have been having a lot of fun with the wine barrel ring spheres, antlers and pumpkins.
 This might be my favorite arrangement with some hydrangeas from our yard.  The little basket with the plums label...another tough decision for keep or sell.
 Things are starting to come together!  More work tomorrow morning at the crack of dawn, but it truly is the best part - putting the finishing touches on everything.
This photo isn't from our booth, but I thought it was the perfect example of everything I love about this show - vintage, chippy, character and FALL!

Summer adventures: American Pickers

 One of our summer adventures included a trip to Canada to go fishing with my dad.  It was a vacation we had promised to take with him for years and it was finally time to make good on our promise.

We protected some time on our calendars and carefully planned a small detour to check out Antique Archaeology in LeClaire, Iowa.

We have great conversations with my dad about watching the American Pickers show and thought it would be fun to see that actual first home of Mike and Frank's enterprise.

We arrived on a Sunday and had hustled it to make it during their business hours.  We got to see their  first location and the new building, along with some of the icons from the show.  We loved the rusty car that marks the entrance.
We also saw this great little retro car and a few weeks later, we saw the episode when it was purchased.
 We were really surprised that the property was so small and located in town.  Our impression from watching the show was that it might be on the edge of town. The river and main section of town is just a short distance away, all along the highway.
The inside of the original building felt like home.  After watching so many episodes, we felt like we recognized a lot of the items from either watching Mike and Frank purchase them or seeing them in the background.
 I am a huge fan of the RUST letters.
 Remember this purchase from the show?
 This was a great display of  bike and motorcycle memorabilia.  Overall, we really expected to see more vintage items for sale.  We did buy a couple of t-shirts and poster - in true tourist fashion.
I really loved this little pedal car.  I think my dad has one in a similar condition, just without the wheels.  I am trying to decide if I will freshen it up for inside the house or leave it a little rusty with some nice patina for one of the flower beds.
We had a great time at Antique Archaeology. I wish we would have taken more time to shop in LeClaire, but we were off to our next stop on the marathon driving adventure to Canada.