Monday, December 2, 2013

Looking for Meaning

I can hear something a dozen times over, but it doesn't make a difference if the timing isn't right. I saw this quote the other day and it really hit home.
“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you.”
-- Neil deGrasse Tyson (reddit, 2012)
The quote came in a message from one of the winners of The Listserve - a email lottery that allows one person each day to write an email to all of the members...currently there are close to 25,000. Members come from destinations across the globe and the topics vary widely - some people write about their hobbies, some ask for advice, many dole out learned life-lesson. The one thing that remains constant is the fact that no one really has it figured out. Life, I mean.

We're all struggling with something. We're all 'looking' for something. I've been wasting spending a lot of time lately looking for that thing in life that will flip the switch. The thing that will make me jump out of bed each morning and what I'll dream about each night. Not being able to pinpoint this thing has resulted in a lot of inner turmoil. But it's also been the catalyst for soul searching and has forced me to get realistic - maybe there is no thing (gasp!) and happiness doesn't work like a lightswitch...more like candles. You find something that makes you happy, so you light one small candle, and then another and another until, eventually, your room is bright and flickering with the light of a thousand candles.

I'm lucky to have three steady candles to start from: faith, family and friends. The rest will come. So go, find your candles (maybe one of mine is cheesy analogies?) and light your world up!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

DIY Dream Closet

My new closet makes me want to do cartwheels...and I could probably do them in there! It might have something to do with the fact that the room is technically a sunroom, not a closet - so it's basically a giant walk-in lined with windows. It's basically amazing.

Pat built this amazing shoe rack using plumbing hardware and some reclaimed lumber from ReStore. He whipped them together in a couple hours - *hip hip hooray* for handy men!

The two-tiered clothing rack was more plumbing and pipe from the Depot. The hardest part of these wasn't the assembly - it was wiping off the protective coating on all the hardware! A scrub brush and some grease-cutting cleaner will do the trick nicely.

One of my favorite parts about old houses is that they usually have some built-in shelving units or drawers. This one has both in the closet...aka: more shoe space!!

The best part about this is really just having a spot for everything. No more shoving shoes into any bag I can find and or squeezing myself past shelves to access the hanging-clothes crammed in the back of the closet!

Monday, November 11, 2013

How to Shop for Cheap Furniture

Furniture shopping is not the most fun thing I've ever done. The thing is, we're on a budget - and we need the basics right away. So we can't just pick our favorite pieces, and there's not a lot of time to wait out good deals. So after spending hours and hours bouncing from one furniture store to the next, I learned a couple things I wanted to share:
  1. Ask plenty of questions – is that real wood? What kind of warranty is there? Do you offer free delivery? What about fabric protection? Is there any flexibility in the price? Are the pillows included? All these little things add up!
  2. It never hurts to try to negotiate price. The worst they'll say is no. We've been able to knock hundreds off of furniture costs just by asking!
  3. Most furniture stores have 'discount' rooms tucked away in a the look for it, or ask an associate
  4. Check consignment shops and your local Goodwill/Salvation Army/non-profit. It also doesn't hurt to look at places that rent furniture – most times they will sell the stuff that comes back after a lease at a deep discount. We own a few pieces from our local Cort outlet. 
  5. You'd be amazed the things you can find at garage sales...or better yet, estate sales.
  6. Be patient, you're probably going to have to look at a lot of crap in order to find the hidden gems.
Speaking of gems: I found a chair. Correction, I found THE chair. Love is a strong word, but I’m head-over-heels. The color should go well in our living room and it's got just the right amount of mid-century Mad Men look to it. Agh, isn't it handsome??

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Movin On Up-Date

So I mentioned we're moving. Did I mention how much painting needs to be done? This is what all weekends in November are likely to look like around here - tape, prime, paint, repeat, repeat, repeat.

At least this gives me an excuse to go to the hardware store regularly. Admission: I have strong feelings for my local ACE hardware store. I'm pretty indecisive sometimes, so let's just say picking paint colors was tough. I spent a couple minutes in front of the color wall like a deer in headlights - no idea where to start. Thankfully the friendly people at Ace are super-helpful and answered all my questions. Within an hour we were off with four gallons of paint and all the supplies we needed.

Let's take a tour of the 'before' shall we?

This is the front entry - the hallway pictured has one wall sponge painted and the other is full of holes and desperate for a fresh coat of paint.

The entry hall leads into the living room and dining room. Here's the living room.

Nice and dark, right? But check out this fireplace! It makes the thought of the next 5 months of cold and snow slightly more bearable.

The guest room is off of the living room. It has one Spartan-green wall and the rest are white with the need for a new coat.

This living room leads into the formal dining room, complete with wallpaper (not much we can do about that, unfortunately) and heavy floral drapes in tones of taupe and mauve (unpictured to the left).

Around the corner from the living room is the master bedroom, with all sorts of teal going on. I love the original lighting fixtures all over this place! They don't do much for lighting, I'll be honest, but they're so unique I don't even mind the fact that we need to buy a lot of lamps.

There is a sunroom off of the master bedroom - we're hoping to turn it into a closet/sitting area. I can't wait to enjoy a cup of tea there while looking out into our backyard next spring (we have a backyard - WAHOO!).

The bathroom looks like it was painted twelve coats of the darkest, most vibrant blue you've ever seen. And the top half only got one of the coats, because it's a hot mess - you can see every single brush stroke. Yikes! The only good part is the cool antique corner bathtub...that isn't pictured very well, my bad!

pictures coming soon: backyard, front foyer, outside and fun details!

Last up in the pictures, for now, is the kitchen. It's absolutely huge in comparison to our current one. There's so much storage I don't even know what to do with myself. See that glass-pane door? It leads into the butler's pantry. YEAH!

Whew, so that's all for now! I apologize about the photo-quality. I took all of these with my cell phone the day we toured the apartment. We were so anxious to paint that they're the only 'before' pictures we have!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Movin on Up

You guys! We have found a new place to move! It feels so good to know where we're going, after months of searching and ambiguity - knowing that we needed to move very soon (our landlord was selling the house and the new owners were moving in) but not knowing where to. Apartment-hunting is the pits, but it's finally done!

We are going to rent out the first floor of a gorgeous home that was built in 1880, located in the historic Heritage Hill neighborhood, just blocks from downtown Grand Rapids.

SO LONG teeny tiny apartment with the hideous blue office carpeting! It's been real. I loved your charm and character, but I'm over it. I'm ready for more space, a backyard, and luxuries like a garage, dishwasher, and garbage disposal. This is big, people. The fact that we have so much space to fill and virtually no furniture means that I can finally try my hand at redoing some furniture, something I've been wanting to attempt for a while but literally had no room for.

Let's just say I am pumped to be scouring Craigslist for something other than apartments - and I've found a couple potential pieces already! I've always loved mid-century modern furniture, so my first quest is to find a MC dresser to rehab. There's going to be a lot of trial and error with this whole decorating thing, but first things first...finding the right piece. This is my inspiration, from Reeves, blogger at The Weathered Door.

Half the battle for me is seeing the potential of a piece while it's still in its 'before' stages. I've found that looking at a good variety of before/after pictures (like these from The Weathered Door) prior to thrifting helps give me some inspiration and get that creative juju going.

See what a little love can do:

image sources: The Weathered Door

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Baby Steps

Life is about changing and growing, and you can't do that without being honest - especially with yourself.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

No Such Thing as the Perfect Time

Okay, so starting a blog has proven to be more difficult than I anticipated. I wanted to tell you all about the adventures I go on and the things my boyfriend and I create in the kitchen - complete with beautiful pictures, obviously. My blog was going to be full of everything that bloggers dream about. I wanted to capture the memories that make every day special, and my captions would be perfectly descriptive with just the right amount of wit and charm.


You see, I wanted it to be flawless. Anything less than that just wasn't acceptable to post. Thus, the updates have been few and far between. That's the thing, though: my life is far from perfect. Do I go on fun trips? Absolutely! Do we cook delicious food? You bet! But there are also days that I don't change out of pajamas, and I definitely have mess-ups in the kitchen more than I would like. My relationship is amazing and I'm so thankful to have him in my life. But we do miscommunicate, and sometimes we fight. We're human.

But a picture-perfect blog does not a picture-perfect life make. So this is an apology, and a promise - I'm sorry for letting my foolish pride get in the way of things, and I promise to keep it real from here on out. #nofilter

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

MTB: Crystal Mountain

Pat and I took a trip this weekend to Crystal Mountain in Northwest Michigan. Normally it's snowsports destination, but during the off-season they host a lot of other activities, like paintball, a climbing wall, the alpine slide, disc golf, and my personal favorite: mountain biking!

We didn't pick the best weekend. It was storming and drizzly almost the entire time, which meant that the chairlifts for downhill biking weren't running. Talk about a bummer! But determined not to be totally defeated, we decided if we couldn't go down the mountain, we'd go around it. Those trails were a lot of fun and I only crashed once (a personal record for a new trail). 

Just as we made our way back from around the mountain, the clouds lightened and rain stopped...we might have a chance after all! As luck turned out, we were able to take advantage of a 4-hour window of rainlessness. The next thing I knew I was handing my bike over the chairlift attendant and hopping on a seat on my way up the mountain.

After the initial realization that I might be a leetle afraid of heights these days, I was quickly overtaken by the view that was spreading out beneath me. The colors, OH THE COLORS. Michigan weather is relentless, but views like this enough to make you deal with it. 

And once we reached the top we got to zoom down and do it all over again, and again! It was my first time downhill mountain biking, but it definitely won't be my last! I can't wait to try it again when it's a little less slick and maybe with some knee pads..turns out it's not exactly the best sport for a klutz. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer in Instagram

Well folks, it's official: summer is over. Fall is quickly shaping into what's sure to be a great season, but I can't say I'm not going to miss summa (summa summa) time in Michigan!

1. My new mountain bike speak the truth: "all work and no play is no fun at all.."
2. Capital Cities concert at Freedom Hill.
3. My monster sprouted a single white whisker - he's so distinguished!
4. Channeling my inner flower child at the GOTR festival in Ohio.
5. Spending time with my family during our annual camping trip at Pokagon State Park.
6. Cheesin' with Pat at a tiki bar up north.
7. Finally learning to SUP at Houghton Lake.
8. My 'new' ride, a pretty little 2008 Ford Escape - isn't she cute? R.I.P. Sunfire
9. The beautiful new downtown market in Grand Rapids opened its doors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chili Cook-Off

This past Saturday was a day I've been looking forward to all year: beautiful fall-like weather, the beginning of ArtPrize, and chili…oh so much chili. It has become an annual tradition of mine to attend the Cottage Bar Chili Cookoff each year, and now my boyfriend loves it as much as I do! And how could you not? There are 40+ chili samples to choose from as well as live music all afternoon and Bell’s beer on tap.. BONUS!



We went, we gorged, we napped. Weekends at their finest! I'm ready to do it all over again already and maybe next year I'll even try the possum chili! Okay maybe not, but who knows and hey - watch possum become the next big thing: Free-range Organic Possum, mmm

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Festy Love

Last weekend I attended Mumford & Son's Gentlemen of the Road stopover in Troy, Ohio. In a word: fantastic (festastic??!). Most of my festival experience (aka: Bonnaroo) has been in a rural setting, but GOTR is different. They spend a lot of time selecting unique, small towns that could use the economic boost and are willing to go absolutely all-in to make the festival a success. Troy was a perfect pick. Everything from the adorable downtown to the friendly locals made our experience unforgettable.

I love music festivals, big time. I love the long road trips – wide awake with anticipation on the way, and exhausted and full of stories on the way back. I love the chaos, the camping and even the not-showering for days at a time. I love the excuse to don flowers in my hair and dance in the rain to a favorite band. Above all else, I love the people. Fellow festers share a bond, a love for the music that makes you endure all the aforementioned. I've never left a festival without being pleasantly reminded that there really are still good people out there: genuinely happy humans who are willing to help anybody. 

For me, the only hard part of festivals is getting used to the constant buzz. I’m naturally introverted so having downtime to recharge is something I’m used to, and need. This isn't always easy at festivals – so my advice for fellow introverts out there: be prepared (earplugs are worth their weight in gold at 4am when the neighboring camp is still pounding Bassnectar) and give yourself a break.
What you're feeling is natural; being surrounded by constant noise is not.
With that being said, fest on my friends!

Monday, August 26, 2013

It's Happening

This is happening. I'm starting a blog. It's amazing how something so simple can seem so daunting.

To be honest, I've been 'out to lunch' for the majority of my twenties. I've been going through the motions, but not really making it count. I've put the focus on the wrong things and I've found myself in my late twenties, and a little lost. It's time to play catch-up. It's time to hold myself accountable and start appreciating the beauty of every day. It's time for a change.

So here I am. Putting myself out there, like countless brave people before me, and many more to come. Join me on my journey - here goes!