Get Started....Now

Photo via Pavan Trikutam

Photo via Pavan Trikutam

Phew, the holiday rush is over. Thank goodness all of the Christmas cookies are gone. Life can get back to, well, relatively normal.

I've learned something over the years that makes Christmas easier. I start now. 

Every year I buy next year's Christmas cards right after Christmas. 

Whenever I see a little something for someone on my list I buy it and tuck it away. I only had a couple of last minute gifts to buy. 

I save gift bags and ribbons throughout the year to use at Christmas time. 

You may have noticed but there weren't any holiday how to's or tutorials on this here blog (there was that one post where I said get some greens, which was about the extent of it). I did say 'hey-take it easy'. There also weren't any holiday gift guides because a) I try to buy local or handmade b) I try to make stuff for people and c) I'm buying my gifts all year. 

I was catching up on some blog reading and I kept coming across some great holiday tutorials, like hand painting fabric,  making an advent calendar, or making ornaments and I was thinking when was I supposed to find the time to do all these things. Yet, if I were to start doing these things now, then maybe I'd get it done in time. Knowing me I probably won't so I should probably just walk away from the glue gun. Sigh. 

I deliberately chose peace this holiday season but I had to let go of some stuff in order to make it happen. I let go of hand making all of the gifts. I didn't make cookies. I hosted no holiday parties. And I was happier because of it. 

It's almost a year away, but I would argue that if you set your holiday intentions now for peace and harmony, then plan for it and make it so. 

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November Mood Board

Image via  Free People

Image via Free People

This month's mood board is inspired by something slightly different- a monastery. While in Bulgaria we took a day trip and drove up into the mountains to see Rila Monastery, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th-19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation. 

What is even more fascinating is that this, and many other churches in Bulgaria, were keepers of Bulgaria's history and culture. Bulgaria was under Turkish rule for decades but in the 19th century there was a resurgence of nationalism and the church was there holding the knowledge of the countries history. 

Image via  xiquinhosilva

Image via xiquinhosilva

I was inspired by the grandness of the monastery and the church, but also the peacefulness I felt because it was nestled in the mountains. There were fountains that you could drink from that had the most delicious, cold and fresh spring water. The inside of the church was dark, lit by candles and you could smell the incense that had soaked into the wood. I felt the weight of the centuries of prayer in this sacred space. 

Image via  Kyle Taylor

Image via Kyle Taylor

Being in such an ancient and spiritual place made me want to create that sort of contemplative space in my own home. I've been searching for what the divine means to me, and while I don't tend to find my answers in church, I do have strong spiritual beliefs. 

I like to create moments in my home that create space for self-reflection. I've been trying to meditate daily (operative word on try) but having a spot where I can meditate daily helps me sink into that meditation more quickly. I feel inspired by my surroundings to try to find that peace. 

Image via  The Jungalow

Image via The Jungalow

A sacred space is something you imbue with good energy. I think you start with a candle, a crystal, and then add a plant and you are on your way to creating your spot. Bringing in elements from nature give a space that good feeling too! 

Image via  Annie Tarasova

Image via Annie Tarasova

Have you carved out a corner of your home for yourself?

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Mix of Modern and Vintage

I had a client who lived in a very modern looking condo in Wicker Park. She had great windows, an open floor plan and enough space but she was struggling to make her existing furniture work. 

The furniture set was relatively new and a contemporary style, but she had bought it before she figured out what her style was. Over the last couple of years she realized that she loved mid-century modern and had been slowly adding pieces to her home in the form of a dresser and dining room table, but overall the home felt, well, kind of cold.

Sometimes open floor plans can be great, but it also can be challenging to define spaces. Her living room felt a bit like it was floating and so I recommended a small armless chaise that would add more seating, define the space, but allow for the open sight lines and not block the room off. 

I also suggested bringing in more wood tones. Her coffee table had seen better days and swapping it out with a wood mid century table would give her the vibe she was going for.  Plus some wood accessories to give the place some more warmth. 

The rooms were bathed in light during the day, but quite dim at night. There were some ceiling lights but the room missed ambient light. I suggested adding an arc lamp for the living room and some side table lamps. 

The last need was color. The walls were light grey, the couch was beige, the rug (which she wanted to keep) was white. While I do love a good neutral room they can be tricky to pull off. Plus she was craving color and so I suggested bringing it in through pillows, fabric covered boxes (which would also provide storage) and a throw blanket. 

If you are struggling with an open floor plan or a room that lacks warmth here is what I would suggest. 

  1. Define the space. Look at your furniture layout. Is it a space that is welcoming or are there pieces blocking the flow of people into the space. If the furniture feels like it is floating can you adjust the furniture to create a zone or add a rug that will help ground the room. 
  2. Add warmth through nature or nature inspired items. Things like geode coasters, wooden bowls or boxes, crystals or stones, sheepskins and plants can really warm up a space. 
  3. Add more lighting. Even if you think you have enough lights add some more. You want there to be overhead light for the room, which should be on a dimmer switch, task lighting (I crochet so there needs to be a light next to the couch in order to see what I'm doing) and ambient light. These are the side table lamps or small lights scattered about a room that give it a great glow. A great way to bring in nature and add light is with a salt rock lamp
  4. Color color color. It doesn't have to be a lot. Bring color into a room through textiles or art. 

Keep an eye out because I'll be talking about color much more in the upcoming weeks. 

I'm only going to be posting once a week because I'm creating a new course and I want to devote some time to finishing that project. Follow along on Instagram where I post daily about what I am doing, creating, eating, designing and thinking about. 



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Searching for Art

Photo credit Kandy M. Christensen

Photo credit Kandy M. Christensen

I moved most of the art that was in my dining room to my bedroom. I wanted art in my bedroom that would allow me to dream and a lot of the pieces that were in the dining room were of trips that I took (often with friends).

Once most of those pieces came down I realized I wanted something different. I love making a mean gallery wall, but I wanted something a bit bigger and dramatic to balance out the fabulous piece by Doug Birkenheuer that hangs over the fireplace on the opposite wall. 

It's funny because the mantel has already been completely restyled since this photo!

It's funny because the mantel has already been completely restyled since this photo!

I found some incredible abstract e-sumi paintings at an antique store in Bucktown and I really wanted them, but they are currently out of my price range. I found a beautiful large abstract painting by an artist I follow. Her work is worth the price, but I need to save up some money to make it possible.

I firmly believe that art is an important investment. It is one I have been making in smaller pieces over the years but my need for something big is challenging my bank account! So for today, I am looking at prints. 

One option is for one large piece that takes up a huge chunk of that wall. Except, that will probably cost more money and it will be expensive to frame.

The option I'm leaning towards is a triptych. Three pieces either of one art work broken up, or three pieces that are different but speak to each other. Here is a very poor rendering of what I am thinking of for that wall.

art option.jpg

I started looking on Minted but they didn't have any triptychs easily searchable. Next I turned to Society6 and they had some great triptychs but nothing that made my heart go pitter pat and fit the look I was going for. I like that these sites provide artists with a platform to sell their work and I have found fabulous pieces on there before. 

I learned of a site called Desenio and they totally had pieces that had the vibe I was looking for. Like these three mountains. I loved the color scheme and the way the looked together. I also loved the first one because it reminded me of the mountains in Lesotho, but I'm not really a mountain girl. 

Posters available at  Desenio

Posters available at Desenio

The next three were so cool, but ultimately they just didn't work together. There wasn't really a third option to go with the black and white photos. 

Posters available via  Desenio

Posters available via Desenio

I kept finding two that I wanted but couldn't find a third and so I switched gears and headed to Etsy. I searched for black and white triptych, but didn't find quite what I wanted so I narrowed the search even more to black and white abstract triptych. And then I found what I wanted. 

Image via  Minimal Instant

Image via Minimal Instant

It's got lots of movement, it's black and white, it's an already matched triptych and it comes in the size I want. Plus! It is made by an artist in Minnesota. 

While reading this blog post it may sound like I found what I wanted within a day, but I've been thinking about this wall for a couple of months. I've been finding myself drawn to abstract art (which is very challenging to execute) and wanted neutral colors because the other walls in that space have art with color. It did take a few hours to search through some of the sites but once I saw it I knew that was what I wanted. 

Sometimes budget constraints can be a good thing! They make you really narrow down your focus and think through what you really want. There are so many great artists offering prints that it is a shame to let yourself not enjoy art because you can't afford the real thing. 

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How to shop vintage for your home

Vintage finds

Vintage finds

I am lucky to have friends who know how to entertain me for the weekend. I went last weekend to visit a friend in Lansing, Michigan and we spent the day estate sale shopping. I managed to get a pretty decent pile of things for the shop and for myself. 

Vintage vase available for sale at  Meandering Design

Vintage vase available for sale at Meandering Design

Most everything in my home is vintage and I've gotten pretty good at finding treasures and I realized there are a couple of clues I could give you that help you find a good estate sale. Most areas have an estate sale listing and you can just google estate sales and the name of your town (if you are in a super small town then search the next large town over) and you'll find a listing. Chicago folks can look here

  1. Review the listings within your area. I highly recommend looking at the pictures posted with the listing. You want to go to the places that have piles of stuff. Clean looking houses usually don't hold treasures. Also, avoid moving sales because they've taken the best stuff with them and there isn't much left behind. 
  2. I usually go the last day of the sale because everything is marked 30%-50% off. If you see something in the pictures that you must have then go the first day because chances are it will be gone. 
  3. Do not go with any preconceived notions of what you will find. If you are looking for a tall blue mid-century modern vase you may not find it. If you are looking for some cool vases or decor for your living room, then you may find that. 
  4. Hunt through everything. One of the houses we went to last weekend looked super picked over, but then I kept looking and I found some amazing pottery that was worth at least 3-4 times what they were charging (especially since it was the last day and 50% off).  
  5. Bring cash. Most places only accept credit cards over a certain amount. If you are looking for a piece of furniture bring a measuring tape to make sure it is the size you want. Bring water and hand wipes because it is dusty dirty work. I usually bring those big blue Ikea bags because you can fit so much stuff in them and they are easy to carry.
  6. If you are buying a few things you can politely ask for a discount, especially if it is the last day of the sale. Price is negotiable but keep in mind you don't want to be insulting. It is usually easier to get a discount if you are paying cash. 
  7. Most importantly have fun. You never know what you are going to find. 

I prefer estate sales over auctions. Mainly because I can pick up what I want, pay for it and leave. I do also stop at thrift stores, flea markets and vintage shops, but I've had the most luck at estate sales. 

Sometimes it is hard to go to an estate sale because usually the sale is happening because someone has passed away. Instead I look at it as a way for that persons treasures to be cherished anew. 

Keep an eye on the shop because I'll be posting all the goodies I've found recently. 

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