The Figge

While on my adventures to the midwest, I took the chance to leave the kids with my mom and sister and spend two entire hours by myself at an art museum.  I didn't know to what extent I would enjoy this, but I loved it all!  I went to The Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa.
And get this, its pronounced "figgy."  No joke!
I really want to sit in this chair! Image via Figge site.
Some of my favorites exhibits included The Art of Seating (chairs during the last 200 years), a small Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit, and a gallery of works my Virginia Myers (A Time of Malfeasance).  Myers' works actually ended up being the most amazing and fun to study.  From a distance, the pieces looked like scratchy and distorted figures/faces (like, what in the world is going on?).  But up close, the detail of fine line and even doodling to create texture and lighting was astounding and I loved it!
This piece was actually the first one that I realized was so detailed.  I wish you could get as close as I could to see what this drawing is truly made up of...
Image Source
Anyway, it's been awhile since I had visited a museum.  This may have been the first time I could actually stop and read what I wanted to and feel like I was really learning something, and not just looking at a million pieces of art like a drive-by, or worried I was being a drag to whomever else I was with.  I think you should try it sometime (besides, sometimes they're free!...or fairly cheap.  I paid $7 for 2 awesome hours of enrichment).
I also loved the drawing room (with paper and mediums provided) where I could sit and draw for a few minutes.  Sheesh, when was the last time I just sat down to draw something?!

Here's a quote I found by Virginia Myers:
One of the parts 
of education and growing up and maturing, 
is to find out who you are 
and what are the things that you could do 
that will help you to give back 
the best that you have. 

Thanks to my mom and sister for watching the kids--- I needed an educational field trip!
What are some things you do when you get away by yourself?


Children's Nook

I hope I made you super curious to see what became of the little hole under the stairs...
(and just to add to your concept of the space, an adult has to bend over to get in.  It's small and cozy.  A nook).

My parents just finished their basement, and I told her to leave this little nook open so we could make a little storage area for her grandkids toys.  It obviously needed a more fun paint color, and she happened to have some left over from her orange laundry room (it was already orange when they moved in, and it's the ONLY room in the house that has color.  I guess the previous owner loved doing her laundry).

Anyway, South Bend has this awesome store called the ReStore--- a place where people take old doors, cabinets, lighting, any and everything that might've been taken out of an older home.  This was the first place I went, just looking for a small bookshelf or other inspiration.  And I found it (inspiration, that is)!
Old stair spindles for $1.50 each.  I knew instantly I wanted to slice them in half and stick them on the wall with trim to top it off.  THEN I found some awesome dentil trim and even though I didn't have enough for the entire space, I got it.  I also bought a bedrest pillow that added some fun color.
TJ Maxx came to the rescue with a perfect rug.
After scouring all the thrift and used furniture stores, I stumbled upon a new antique store (if that's not an oxymoron....).  Behold, I found the PERFECT small bookshelf.  It was already cream, but I added 2 coats of paint to match the trim in my parent's house.
Picked up some spray paint and got to work!
are you ready to see it?!??!
Ta Da!
And when you peek inside...
The actual toy basket sits just outside the nook...
(That basket was a $6 find at a garage sale drive by the day before I left!

And then a few days later, when looking through a Pottery Barn catalog, my mom saw these:


Now a few details:
Stair Spindles!  I requested the help of my parent's builder and had him use a table saw to slice them in half.  I then got to expand my own abilities: using an air compressor and nail gun to nail 'em in place.  Oh yes.  I like nail guns.
When I bought the spindles, they looked awesomely aged and worn, and the more I looked at them, I knew I wanted to keep them that way.  I think my parents were slightly grimacing at the thought of dirty old spindles hanging on their walls, but too bad, designer's call. hee hee.

Trim: I used my favorite Krylon green spray paint for the dentil trim, and capped it with basic trim used in the rest of the house.

Circle Wall Art: a woven piece given to my parents when we visited Africa to see where my dad grew up.  My grandparents were missionaries in Zimbabwe, and if I have my story straight, the little old woman who made this lived in a village close to where my grandparents served, and she remembered my grandparents fondly.  I doubt that it would have ever been hung anywhere else in the house, but in this space, it's actually fun!
See how I made the Nature Wall Art.  You can totally make this too.  And also see more about lining the Bookshelf with fabric!

I also spray painted the navy blue wicker basket on the bookshelf, and found that great green "tea" tin at Goodwill.
This was one of those projects that just fell into place.  I spent a few hours shopping and just happened to find things that were what I had in mind.  I loved it.  It was also fun to create without the normal limits and distractions.  I think getting out of my house and routine was helpful.

I only finished it the day before we left, so the kids didn't get too much time to use it.  But from the short time using it, they seemed to love it.

Thanks, Mom, for letting my ideas go wild!  If you miss the kids too badly, you can go sit in here and think of them.  But for now, it's all put away and tidy!...
What do you think?


Where You Been?

Why thank you for asking!
I've spent the last 2 weeks galavanting across the midwest, something like this:
Maryland to Marion, Indiana, to South Bend, Indiana, to Davenport, Iowa, to South Bend, Indiana, to Vermillion, Ohio, and back home again.
This amounted to 30 hours of driving time, 11 of which was just myself + 3 kiddos.
I give full credit to God for how well behaved the children were in the car for all of that.  Really--- SO good.
I loved seeing (here we go!) Cindy, Amy, Jace & Will, (and Greg too), Cindy (aka Nina), Mike, Nick, Jason, Katie, Ron, Jill, Evan, Tiffany, Rachel & Anna, Betsy & kids, Beth, Wendy, Keith & Brit, IWU Admissions Staff, Integrity Automotive workers, Mom, Dad, Ericka (and baby!), Josh, Joel, Beth Ann, and finally SIMON!
(eek, hope I didn't miss someone).

Our trip included things like a dead van battery, which needed replaced and in the process of trying to jump it Christian locked the doors and the keys got stuck inside.  Most of the strange stories present themselves at the end of my trip when I was driving home with the kids... I think that may just be a post all its' own.

Of course I had a super time catching up with friends.  I was especially blessed by the wisdom and insight of several mentor-type friendships.  Those are priceless.
Christian and Jace were especially buddy-buddy.  I don't think either of them listened to their mamas the entire time they were together.

And getting all 5 of them to sit still in a picture was useless...

Thank you so much to Amy Tonagel for letting me bombard her home.  And thanks to her mom for helping me make the drive out there!

I enjoyed every moment spent at my parents house.  Confession: I didn't help wash a single dish or do any house cleaning while I was there-----sorry Mom!  I was a little bit lazy, and also busy working on a fun design project.  Check back in a few days to see what I did with this space:

It was great to watch the girls interact with my parents, as this is the first time they've really been old enough to be really playful.

We visited Notre Dame to see the cathedral.  It had to be 200 degrees out.

We also trekked out to Iowa to visit my sister and her husband, who are expecting a baby boy in October!  We had fun taking some maternity pictures (I'll share those soon too)(oh, okay, just one, not edited).  This is Ericka.  She's fun.  And a great writer too.

Over the next week I want to share with you
- Children's Nook Design (I think you'll like this!)
- The Figge Art Museum
- Ericka's Maternity Pictures
- Journals of a Crazy Traveling Mama

Check back soon!


Over on Lemon Tree

I am absolutely thrilled to be a guest blogger at lemon tree creations TODAY!  Check it out here to see a fun idea for modern family art.  Yay!


"Becoming Minimalist"

Don't worry, the mower is off.
I just recommended the blog Becoming Minimalist to Simon, asking him to start reading it along with me.  I don't know why I waited so long.  It is probably one of the most thought-provoking blogs I read, and has honestly changed my view on life over the last few months.  I am constantly amazed at how much minimalism and the teachings of Jesus seem to coincide.  I'd highly recommend it to you as well:  Becoming Minimalist.

PS-- what are your thoughts on having an online garage sale?
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