Sunday, December 11, 2016

Conquering Fear

I'm not very good with heights.  I could never climb this tower at Bonneville
Mill county park in Bristol, IN.  My children loved it and just watching them climb to 
the top would almost do me in.  There was another similar tower at Ox Bow Park, and it was
the same thing for me,  I would try, but the slightest wiggle of the tower made me run
for the safety of the ground.
Twelve years ago I went through a very tough time. A divorce.  You never think it will happen
to you and when it does you go through about every emotion known to mankind. 

When I realized there was nothing more I could do for the marriage and it was time to move on, I 
wanted to do something I had never done before.  Climb to the top of the towers.  It was a small feat for some, but something I had to do for my mental well being.  If I could conquer this, I knew I could 
get through everything else I had to deal with.  It wasn't something I shared with anyone, just something I had to do.  I know it sounds kind of silly, but once you face your biggest fears it gives you courage you never knew you had.

At that time my daughter Rose was a cross country runner and The Raiders would practice at Ox Bow park.  One day while I was waiting for her I just did it.  No body else was with me.  It was me and my fear. 
Step by step I slowly climbed the stairs, hanging on to the rail with my life.  When I reached the top it was if a weight had been lifted from my heart.  Every time I face an ordeal that I really don't want to face it takes me back to the towers.  (I did them both that week.)

My Intro to Environmental Designs students have their big jury next Tuesday.
I have never seen such a talented group all in the same class.  From the research, to
the beautiful renderings of their room designs.  They are all hoping to get The Best
of Show award, and let me tell you, it's going to be a tough decision so I'm glad that
I don't have to make it alone.  

One of my  students said she was ready to quit so she didn't have to go though this part of the class.  I told her I saw the perfect quote for her,
 "Your passion must be stronger than your fear."  
This is a big part of the job as a designer.  You must be able to sell your designs, your ideas and yourself.   

I remember my first jury.  I was so confident but when I stood in front of the Advisers my legs were
shaking uncontrollably.  Ed Harding (the one that was probably making them shake!) asked me if I would like to sit down.   I said "No thank you."  I did just fine even with the shakes, and it never happened again.

I wish there was something I could say that would help but it's just the doing of the task that will render the fear.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tiny House Living in Small Bus

Remember my friend Emily Swift who hiked the AT last year?  (click on the link to read about it).  Well, here she is with Chris (her boyfriend that she met on the trail:) and they are ready to launch into a whole new nomadic adventure-Living large in a tiny bus while traveling the states.

Chris bought the bus at a school auction and converted it to run on used cooking oil.  This is not a cheap endeavor, but the reward is once it's done you can pretty much run for free.  If cooking oil is not available they also can switch over to run on diesel fuel.   Most small restaurants have to pay to have this waste product hauled away, so it's a win, win situation most of the time, and it's recycling!  They live to support small local business and hope to make some great connections in their journey.  We met for a crafted brew at the Crooked Ewe and everyone knew them there.  They let them fill up the bus while I filmed.

As a Union electrician Chris can go just about anywhere and find a job that pays a decent salary as  temporary help.  His job at IUSB just ended so they are headed to Memphis, TN his hometown to finish up the interior of the bus in a warmer climate.  They are making some custom cabinets to house  the already purchased appliances.  Will be adding solar panels, and a compostable toilet.

Emily will just go with the flow, take care of the dog and bus and work when needed.  She's thinking about something that she might be able to do out of the bus, like a handicraft, she's a creative gal and I'm sure she'll figure something out.

I'm hoping that they start blogging so that we will all be able to go on this fun journey with them!

Here's a personal tour of the bus and how it works.  Hang on tho,  I'm not that great with a hand held camera!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Mock Baked Oatmeal Recipe

When the weather turns cold my breakfast turns hot and sustains me until lunch time.  I love baked oatmeal but when I'm read to eat I don't want to wait for something to bake so I came up with this quick dish.  

I start with (my homemade cranberry) granola and pour (almond or whatever milk you like) milk over it just to barely cover it.  Then I nuke it for a minute.  The milk will be absorbed into the oats.

While that is cooking, chop a couple of apples and saute in a small amount of butter,  add a handful of walnuts and sprinkle with cinnamon, stir until coated.  I always make more and have some for the next day.  Cook until desired tenderness and top granola with a few spoonfuls of this apple nut mixture.  Your home will smell like you've been baking apple pies!

The sauteed apples can be heated later and topped with Greek yogurt then a sprinkling of granola, as a healthy dessert, or another breakfast option.  They are also great cold (keep refrigerated until ready to use) I also just made a wonderful kale salad using the apples and dried cranberries with a olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.  Having cooked apples on hand makes me think of different creative ways to use them.

It's fall y'all !  Eat what's in season, and take it to a health new level.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Future Designers Field Trip to Chicago

Getting out of your comfort zone is always a great learning experience.  Most everyone has been to Chicago but very few have visited The Chicago Merchandise Mart, and what a great experience it is! The building itself is iconic.  Here's a brief history borrowed from their website...
The MART has been an icon in Chicago’s history since the 1930s. It was developed by Marshall Field & Co. to create a central marketplace where retailers could come to buy their wares all under one roof.Today, theMART is the world’s largest commercial building, largest wholesale design center and one of Chicago’s premier international business locations. The Chicago icon encompasses 4.2 million gross square feet, spans two city blocks and rises 25 stories.

For a designer we strive to find things that are of the best quality and items that you just can't find anywhere.  Visiting the Mart makes us realize that some of the best interiors are not a mix of all new furniture, but a mix of old and new.  We were also surprised to find many of these showrooms make the furnishing right here in the USA.  

We were all bright eyed and ready for the day.
The ride home was a different story after walking
6 miles!

We take the south shore train and enjoy the time
getting to know each other.

The students outside of the Mart

My inspiration for my bathroom remodel!

a great pipe leg bakers table

My favorite store in the Mart, Mike Bell.  He offers lots of
custom made pieces made with recycled materials and unusual antiques
 (go figure!)

This reminded us all of Cindy-our student that couldn't join us.
She loves pink and purple!

Interiors can have humor

Edgar blending in with the patio furniture at Woodward, Made in

Utensil and knife drawer in a custom kitchen

Water Gardening

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Tea Time

The days are getting shorter and the nights cooler.  Thats when I start to prepare for the long winter months that we all don't really want to think about quite yet.  I'm a coffee drinker in the wee hours but then I switch to a non-caffeinated tea so that I can sleep at night.  We keep our house at a pretty cool temperature in the winter, so if you aren't moving around you are covered by a blanket or drinking tea!  My fav is lemongrass and ginger.  It not only tastes great, but there are lots of healthy benefits to drinking natural herb teas.  I found a great link here for this tea. with all the great benefits.

Last summer I planted lemon grass in my herb garden and in the fall I cut it all off and stuck the grass in my freezer.  So all winter long I made the tea.  I also keep my ginger in the freezer so it doesn't spoil.  and just cut or use a peeler to shave off what I need.  You can even use the outside layer for tea so dry it or freeze it for later.  This summer I looked high and low for the lemongrass plant and potted it so I can bring it in this winter.  It's an annual so in our area it doesn't come back in the spring.  It's great with chicken cooked in coconut milk as well!

I cut about an inch of ginger into smaller pieces and use
a stem or two of the lemongrass, just wind it up in a ring
to fit inside your tea pot.  Steep for 3 minutes and remove.

I keep my pot under a tea cozy to keep it warm for a long
while.  Then you can microwave the reserve or drink it on ice.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Chair Re-hab

 When I want something new I first always go through my stash and see what I already own that I might be able to refurbish.  I decided to turn my sun room (that's connected to my kitchen) back into a dining room because I love looking out the windows while having my morning coffee.  I'm a daydreamer, it's just how I function best, and this is the perfect spot to do it.

 I had 2 of these oak Haywood Wakefield fiddle back chairs, and 2 French styled arm chairs (that were probably from an office because they were very sturdy, gloss varnish and vinyl upholstered seats, not pretty but good bones!
Since these are Haywood-Wakefield chairs I really didn't want
to paint them.  I just re-upholstered the seats with traditional pillow
ticking fabric.

I had intended to recover the backs, but they used tiny, long
staples in a small groove and there must have been a million of them!
If I could have gotten to them I would have most likely ruined the chair,
so I ended up priming and painting the fabric cream.  It's not a soft feel,
so I would never put it on a seat but the back of the chair is fine.

I used(left over from the cabinets) oil base paint for the chair.  I'm so over chalk paint.  I tried to
paint over another set of chairs that I painted and finished with wax and the paint will not stick.
They will all have to be stripped.
To replace the cording and add a little embellishment I went with a natural burlap webbing strip,
I used a fabric glue and stapled the ends.  Then added the cording also in a natural jute. 

They also pair well with my drop cloth draperies.

Close up of the details.
 I like to keep my dining room pretty neutral because I have a large collection of vintage dinnerware and depending on my mood or the season, it changes frequently.   This little bit of trim adds a nice rustic finish to a formal chair.  I have red accents (my small appliances and wool rugs) so the trim ties everything together.
The backs are also finished off with the trim.
I bought a vintage round oak table with carved cabriole legs, and fully intended on painting it but once I put everything together I like the warmth of the old wood and left it for now.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Reveal

Last November I started to paint the kitchen, starting with the ceiling and came to a crack that needed to be repaired.  I have neck problems so it was something we needed to call in a professional for.  I also needed to take down the old fan to finish painting and told Ed that I found a really cool fan that would look great in our dining area.  He told me I could get it.  The more I thought about spending all that money on a fan when I really needed a new cooktop.  Mine was probably from the 70's, electric and took 15 minutes to heat up.  So everything came to a halt and we got to work on the design.  With all the doors and windows we couldn't change to much about the layout except to widen the work area, and change the stove to the back looking out into the dining area.  We also shortened the area where the faux island is to make a larger walk way.  Instead of cabinets for the pan we added drawers.  I feel like the few changes we made have made cooking so much easier!  and quicker!

Since our home is a period home (1910 Craftsman style bungalo) I wanted to stay with cabinetry that reflected that period but modernize it with paint.  I also used period iron hardware (reproductions).  I like the steampunk look of adding some industrial elements to an period house and have added clear glass school house light fixtures and an up cycled egg basket pendant light with an Edison bulb above the island.  I stripped the door and tried to stain it to match the floor but it just didn't look as good as I hoped it would so I ended up painting it.  I also used a vintage register vent that you see in this photo.
Having changed from tile to quartz made cleaning so much easier as well, no grooves.  If you missed the before photo's they are in the previous post.

Going up the steps from the kitchen dining area

looking back at the dining/sunroom area.  This is the same
tile that used to be onto of the flooring in the kitchen.  We kept it
for now.  The draperies are made from canvas drop cloths, and hung on
copper pipe..

My new farmhouse sink, and a few old plates that belonged to my great, great grandmother.

New light fixtures

The Faux island

Pots and pans drawers-Its so wonderful to not have to
dig through stacks of pans.

Bosch cooktop with retractable vent.  Now you see it

now you don't!

The cabinets were custom made with maple and finished
with an oil based paint.  I know that's not as environmentally
friendly but the durability of oil far exceeds the latex or acrylic.

Quartz and Hickory counter tops

The view over the stovetop (subway tile with charcoal grout)

The Fan that started this whole renovation!  The whole fixture
spins around and really keeps the kitchen cool.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kitchen Renovation Before

I take so many photo's but realized that there are very few of the room that I probably spend the majority of my time in.  So after quite a bit of digging I found a few of the before pictures.   As you can see by the amount of stuff of the counters that might be the very reason why-I'm usually using it and don't want that stuff in the picture!

 We removed an eating bar and chairs that were located on the other
side of the stove top and bumped out the cabinets to that width making our work area
a much better size for two people working in the kitchen.  We also cut the cabinets about 6"
short on that end allowing for more room when the refrigerator doors are open.  I really wanted
an island but couldn't afford the space so I created the end cabinet to look like one.  It has a
hickory wood top, and is outfitted with a large utensil drawer, and 2 pots and pans drawers.

We removed this light soffit to open up 
our view.  (These are old pictures!)

The lighting is bad in this photo, but it shows the
placement of the old electric stovetop above
(see the tea kettle)

On the built in on the outskirts and the top cabinets we
only needed to replace the doors.

This is the area that we now have our GAS
cooktop-with a view!

The area where the stove is, is now the island

stripping down the old tile

Ripping down the soffit and we removed tile that had been laid
right on the top of the original wood floor.

everything out!

The floor before

The same floor after sanding and repairs

With the finish

Stay tuned for the After photos!