Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Moments Noticed: Friends

So the other day I realized that I have a GIANT collection of reasonably awesome photos and a pretty decent sized collection of quotes that I adore. I've also noticed that putting quotes on photos on the internet happens to be a thing, so I've decided to add some beauty to the world with a new series of posts called Moments Noticed.

I hope some of these messages brighten your day, remind you of your best self, instill gratitude or just offer a moment of reflection.

Kicking off this series with an image taken in the Cleveland Metroparks last fall paired with a quote I found scribbled on a scrap of paper in a box of college stuff I was sorting through recently.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

Shout out to those of you who so readily and joyfully offer listening ears, supportive shoulders and words of encouragement. You make the world a better place. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

From Flooring, A Bed is Born

Hey remember my awesome mahogany floor that we crafted from rough lumber?

We had some floor boards left over so Brian decided that he'd like to make our king size bed out of them. He asked me to find something to model it after and that he'd do his best to recreate it.

So I found this. It looked relatively uncomplicated and had a mosaic look to the wood which would be easy to replicate given our supply of very short floor board pieces.

And this is what he manged to create!

Not bad, eh?

Here are some detail shots of the headboard. It was constructed by gluing the tongue and groove flooring together before passing it through the planer and finishing with the side and top pieces.

Same detail and construction on the foot board.

In order to maintain the already beautiful color of the Santos Mahogany, I opted to simply finish the piece with three coats of a wipe on polyurethane.

It's a platform or European style bed frame which means it uses slat boards for support underneath the mattress. It's a beautifully simple design and eliminates the need for purchasing and then discarding and replacing a box spring.

I spent ages researching non-toxic mattresses and I'm now somewhat of an expert so if you're in the market for a mattress made of natural materials that won't off-gas into your sleeping space, let me know! I settled on a 100% natural latex mattress from Sleeping Organic.

And another overview photo, so you can see how awesome it is one more time!

Thanks Brian for your hard work on this! I think it just might be an heirloom piece. 

Now it just needs a set of dresser drawers and a couple of matching nightstands to complete the ensemble, don't you think? 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Boy's Super Awesome Bedrooms

Leading up to the big move in, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I would make each individual room special for the boys. They'd never had their own rooms because either we didn't have the space or because it was easier to get both of them to sleep in the same room. But we knew that once we got our own home, they would really appreciate their own personal space. And I wanted them to love the new house!

So, knowing Ari's favorite colors are blue and yellow and that he adores maps and that Riker loves red and rainbows, I set to work.

One of the things I wanted for their rooms was a way to display their artwork that wouldn't damage the walls and that would look relatively organized. I found these really cool decorative art cables from Pottery Barn Kids but at $39.00 each, my crafty mama gears started turning.

I poked around internet land for inspiration and saw people like Sue at Home using the Dignitet cable systems from Ikea. I thought that hack was clever but wanted something cuter and warmer feeling. Then I found a tutorial at Positively Splendid using wooden shapes as the anchor points and I knew that was the way I wanted to go.

So I gathered my supplies.

And painted Ari's stars blue and yellow.

Along with his hand painted wooden name, the art display wire looks awesome!

Here's an overview of his whole room including the feature piece, a giant map of the world, which thanks to Auntie Heather's help, only took an entire day to hang!

The view from the other direction.

This super cool globe light fixture with space rocket ceiling fan was a gift from Auntie Heather after the addition of a loft bed to Cael's room made it unsafe to have a fan anymore.

For a long time, Ari's favorite animals have been crabs and chickens. So I found this adorable family of crab decals to live under the window.

And lastly, you'll notice the blue and yellow bunting flags hanging around the walls.

These were the result of one my many moments as of late that start with the phrase, "I'll just....." In this case, "I'll just get some fabric and cut up some triangles and sew them onto some ribbon and make some colorful flags." As you can imagine, this was immensely more time consuming than anticipated!

But I think the results are pretty awesome! 


Then of course, I had to make pendant flags for Riker's room too!

And an art wire or three...

Riker really wanted his walls to be painted red with one wall done in rainbow stripes. I vetoed that idea and said he was getting gray walls but the decorations could be rainbow colors. Then I thought, hey, I could just get a giant canvas and paint some rainbow stripes on that! So I did! And guess what? It took way longer than I could have ever imagined! But it sure does look cool!

Here's the overview of his room from a few angles....

I actually considered painting a tree mural for a split second but then came to my senses and just bought this giant decal. Which, you might have guessed, took an entire afternoon to hang!

When we were last to Minnesota for a visit, we brought back this desk that was mine when I was little. I must have been about six when my dad got it for me at an auction from the old Manannah school house. I was tickled that Riker liked it so much and insisted that it live in his new room.

You may have noticed that in the photos above the boy's mattresses were both on the floor. I'm pleased to report that since I took those photos, we've managed to remedy that situation!

Brian grew up sleeping on a waterbed with a thick pine bed frame. He recently found it in the attic of his parent's house and not being one to let anything go to waste, he dug it out and decided to make the boy's beds out of it. He planed the wood and cut the big side pieces in half the long way and was able to make two bed frames out of one!

Once the headboard and foot end were constructed and all the pocket holes for assembly were drilled, the project was handed over to me for finishing. It might seem like a simple task to stain and finish a twin bed frame but I can assure you that the world of wood conditioners, stains and dyes, and finishes and top coats is a vast sea of products, techniques and opinions. I now know just enough about it to be acutely aware of how little I actually know about it all! In the end I decided to go for dark and masculine and I'm pleased enough with the results.

And for one final finishing touch, I put up this gorgeous photo and quote between their rooms to remind the boys of just how lucky they are to have each other. 

"Because I have a brother I will always have a friend."

As you can tell it's been very pleasing to finally have a space of our own and to be able to put some energy into making it uniquely ours. Now on to the rest of the house!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Love, Mem Fox

We've just had a very special delivery arrive from Mem Fox!

Many readers will already know this household name, but for those who don't, Mem Fox is one of the most well-known and well-loved authors of children's books in all of Australia. She's been publishing a steady stream of books since 1983 when the classic Possum Magic was released.

Now let me share the delightful story of how we were lucky enough to receive a parcel from Mem Fox herself!

Riker was recently the student of the week at his elementary school. One of his tasks was to put together a poster about himself and his interests. We devoted a section of it to his Australian heritage and included several photos of kangaroos, koalas and iconic Aussie sites.

As part of his student of the week experience I was invited to come in to read to the children. I chose Possum Magic thinking that his classmates would enjoy the Australian animal characters. The next day Riker's teacher emailed me to say he had found several Mem Fox books on his bookshelf, left there from the previous first grade teacher. Apparently Mem Fox was at the school for a workshop and assembly in the early nineties. He showed them all to Riker and let him pick one to borrow for the evening. He selected Night Noises and it just so happens that this was a signed copy! The lovely message (from 1992) said, "With lots of love from Australia and me!"

You can imagine how tickled I was to open this book for the first time and see this greeting from so long ago, reaching me here on a wintry Ohio evening!

I was so moved in fact, that I wrote to Mem Fox via email and shared the story above. I explained how we miss Australia dearly and have adored her books for years. Riker was just days old when we were gifted Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and it's worn ragged from years of love as is Where is the Green Sheep? and others. I tried to express how delighted I was by the way in which her message had reached me all these years later.

Her response indicated that she was as tickled about the whole thing as I was and she was very grateful that I took the time to write to her. A day later I received another message saying her husband had kindly suggested that she send us a couple of autographed books and could I please send an address.

Just the other day, signed copies of Possum Magic, The Goblin and the Empty Chair and Whoever You Are arrived from South Australia. We were all pretty chuffed about this extra special delivery as you can tell. 

And best of all, Possum Magic is signed with the same greeting as the one that reached out in time to find us here. "With love to Riker and Ari from Australia and me!"

What a joy it is to be able to reach out to someone on the opposite side of the world and find connections through stories and places!

A big thank you to Mem Fox for touching our lives in so many ways over the years and for all the ongoing work in literacy and bringing the joy of reading to children the world over. Without a doubt, these books will be family treasures for years to come.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Hello 2016

I enter this year with a long to-do list. I don't make new year resolutions but I've got a whole lot of work to do ranging from my own personal and professional goals to the big picture global stuff I wrap my heart up in. I know most of it won't get done in the next few weeks so I'll try to plug away, a little bit at a time.

There's one thing we can all get started on right away though.

Let's agree to go about this year with more love and more compassion. With less hate and less fear.

What does that mean in practice? I think that can be as small as offering a smile as you hand your credit card to the grocery store cashier. It's remembering that everyone is fighting some sort of battle that the rest of us know nothing about and choosing kindness. It's choosing to think of our neighbors in other parts of the world with compassion rather than disdain and dismissal. It's remembering that our children are people to be nurtured, not problems to be fixed. It's being gentle with our ourselves when we fail to live up to our own ideals. Go about it however you like, but whenever possible, choose love over fear and all of its ugly derivatives.

How will you add more love and compassion to the world this year?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Lots of furry and feathered friends visit us in our new neighborhood and I love their company! In this edition of wildlife visits, a blue jay and a six point buck meander through our yard.

All the photos above were taken through window glass, the jay by me and the buck by Brian.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Through the Woods to Grammy and Grandpa's House

After living about as far away from family as possible for most of a decade, we came back to live in the same neighborhood as Brian's parents and brother. Between our houses is an awesome little patch of woods and we decided to make a designated path to Carl and Jan's house.

Can you guess what's giving it that beautiful red hue?

Our path is constructed out of the mahogany sawdust left over from processing our floors!

Isn't it awesome?