The Kitchen

I did promise yesterday that I would show you what I worked on after I was finished. Here it is! I didn’t get to the curtains for the missing cabinet doors (you’ll see) because I used all the fabric I had for the windows, which ended up being a whole lot easier. But I thought I should take pictures anyway. It’ll be a long time before it’s this clean again.

Wedding Re-do: Location, location, location

I’m not going to turn into one of those people who has absolutely nothing to do with weddings in her real life but just keeps on daydreaming about redoing her wedding over and over. Actually, what I’m really saying is that I won’t become a wedding junkie and subject you all to endless re-do inspiration boards. I’m sure at some point I’ll move on to other people’s weddings. Like my sister’s, perhaps.

There is nothing quite so tantilizing to the female soul as this venue. Think about it: you get to dress everyone and decorate everything exactly to your heart’s content. And everyone has to look at your pictures and eat the food you like and listen to your music. I just love weddings. It’s not just my own wedding I’d love to re-do. I’d love to make someone else’s wedding happen. Nothing would delight me more than to plop a big pile of magazines down in front of some unmarried friend to help her decide her own style and then translate that to an entire day.

One of the things I wish we’d done is not worry so much about having the traditional things included and only done what we wanted at our reception. I.e…no cake or cupcakes and certainly no cutting of cupcakes! I also wish we’d had a more organized reception. Oh well, not gonna go there.

So anyway, what I wouldn’t change is our location and our day. We had the most beautiful, sunny day in September in LaPorte. And I wouldn’t change our little white frame chapel in the orchard for anything. If I had it to do over again, we’d only invite our families and close friends: as many as could fit in our chapel. We wouldn’t worry about inviting everyone – we’d plan some kind of party closer to where they live. And I’d have an outdoor reception in my parents’ back yard with croquet and bacce ball and a bonfire and paper lanters and not worry about having to get everyone to dance. Ironically, with a smaller location and more intimate gathering, I’ll bet everyone would want to dance. Not that I’m complaining about the look of our reception place! It ended up being really beautiful. And people did dance!

So, here’s my location inspiration board. It’s pretty basic. Wait ’til I get to clothes and flowers!!! I’ve already told Henry that I want to plan a dance party for my 30th birthday (2 years away) so that I can decorate and arrange flowers and design invitations all over again. 🙂

On Writing

It all started in an Ikea parking lot. We’d been having a “dayte” – our word for day long dates – and as usual had spent a good amount of that time working through our various little tiffs with each other. We always fight on our dates when we’ve gone awhile without spending a lot of time together. This particular “dayte” was my belated birthday outing. We’d gone to our nearby outdoor mall where there is an Anthropologie and a Jcrew and because I was hungry when we got there, we first went straight to the lunch counter in Macy’s. Henry decided to buy himself a mug at Starbuck’s and on the way discovered he’d like to have fresh coffee to carry around in his open mug while I window-shopped. Five minutes later – after sloshing it onto the floor all the way out of Macy’s and receiving a severe dressing-down from me on the way to Anthro – found him pouring most of it into the planter outside the store. I felt a little ashamed. But why should I? He was the one who’d completely embarrassed me all the way through Macy’s and made people stare at us while we marched across the courtyard! (It couldn’t have been the fuming redhead scolding him audibly through tightly clenched teeth).

An hour and a cooler head later after I had timidly hinted I’d felt a little bad he’d poured all his coffee out and he’d cried when he told me I had embarrassed him (did I mention this was just before Christmas and there were hundreds of shoppers? And, yes, I have a husband who cries and it’s very sweet.) I had an epiphany. I didn’t know it then, but that was the moment I entered phase 2 of our marriage. At the time it felt like finding the right piece of a jigsaw puzzle when you’ve been trying to fit one which looks so similar but just doesn’t fit no matter how hard you press it. I felt foolish. Implications bloomed before me. I had been trying to make this hilarious, free man into a clone of me. I had been insisting he anticipate how every whim of his own might make me feel. I was trying to force an impossible outcome from our marriage: that I would never feel lonely or discomfited. Basically, that he existed to make me happy.

Anyway, that hour talking and crying in the Ikea parking lot was a turning point. It’s been an interesting ride w/r/t personal growth since then and I’ve realized that even though I love design and I will go on posting pictures of things I’m making, if I’m going to write I want it to be about what matters to me. Of course our marriage is the epicenter of discovery because it’s so constant. If you aren’t married, think about it like sharing a room with your sister only much more intense. I had no idea that my life would become doubled in marriage. Suddenly I have this whole other person whose life I’m coming to know and understand almost as well as my own; whose mannerisms I can predict with accuracy but who still remains a complete mystery to me. It really is like having a second self. Like a mirror if you could walk into it and interact with the self on the other side. But infinitely more interesting. And infuriating. Because THIS second self doesn’t do things the way you do!! It takes three times as long to take a simple pee as you do and WON’T ADMIT IT. This self shakes the whole bed when it whips around to turn off its alarm clock in the morning and then leaves the door open while it takes a shower, singing, whistling, spitting and honking its nose. Basically, my other self is very noisy. It’s like living with a trained bear. But it also rubs my back and plays with my hair almost every night and gives the best hugs in the world. And it’s a good kisser. Yeah, okay, this whole metaphor is getting a little creepy. But ya’ll know what I’m saying.

I’ve grown more in the last year and a half with Henry than I have in the five years since college combined and it’s been so joyful and natural. Maybe not easy: I’ve been slowly inspecting the implications which bloomed in December and have found a lot about myself I’ve been unwilling to admit. It’s an act of grace on God’s part that I can even see these things. But the act of discovery and change hasn’t been the drudgery I imagine it could be. I have only God to thank for that too. I was definitely not smart enough to pick the right kind of man without a lot of intervention on His part.

So here’s my idea: I want to write about the things occupying my thoughts lately. It might be a little histrionic to think my journey is just as interesting to the world as it is to me (I’m starting to suspect it’s something I need to work on), but I’m going to write about it anyway. We’re starting to think and talk more seriously about all kinds of exciting things for this next phase of our lives and I want to share it with you. I also find that in doing some good healing lately I am getting perspective on my past which might come in handy and might just be somewhat interesting if not. At least it’ll be interesting to me. So stay tuned. For now I have to sign off. I’m going to finish painting the blackboard on our kitchen wall and make curtains and then I’ll let you see it! Thanks for reading.


Christmas 2009, a retrospective

Sarah, our neighbor, the only one who will read this post, has already heard about this twice now. I need to make a mental note not to complain – I mean, gush! – about our Christmas trip anymore to her. She will surely enjoy the pictures, though. I hope. As I was uploading the photos from our break I realized I had a nice little story in pictures.

This year I let the whole Christmas consumer thing pass me by…as a BUSINESS OWNER. No matter how hard I try or how many promises I make to myself in January, I get to about November 29th without thinking about Christmas at all and then I start to panic about what I am going to give everyone. Can I just go on a short rant here?

Henry’s extended family is wonderful. They are generous and creative people. We always get some kind of goodie-filled basket from each of his stepdad’s siblings. And they don’t ask for anything in return! They don’t even see us most years. But the gifts keep on coming!! And I think: “who are you people? Don’t you know how this makes ME – the neurotic, guilt-loving, overachiever feel?!” I think the answer here is, just say thank you Jenn. But seriously. It’s not even like they give us cheap gifts that don’t mean anything just for the sake of covering all their bases. I really do eat the homemade apple butter. People and their generosity. When will they ever learn?

I know that I am coming about 40 days too late for this sort of rant but I just feel like Christmas this year was the roller-coaster you’re not sure you want to be on as you are slowly ticking up that first hill. We are winded and a little sick.

My only Christmas contribution business-wise was a set of four bracelets for the daughters and daughters in law of a woman named Jill from Wisconsin. Her own mother passed away last year and she had inherited a bunch of antique and vintage costume earrings. She had the idea to turn them into bracelets as a gift and it was my happy task to make it happen. After some fits and starts, here’s how they turned out:

Jill sent me a lovely email after the holidays to let me know they all loved their bracelets and that there was crying.

I think it was the move and the fact that I hadn’t planned anything, as usual, and the fact that we were going to do so much traveling and the fact that I have to constantly remind myself that the fate of the free world does NOT rest on my shoulders; I was a little more, shall we say charged, this year about what to do for gifts.

I LOVE to make things for people. I love to spend a couple of hours making dinner and then watch Henry devour the first bite. I love wrapping gifts and seeing people’s eyes light up when they get them. I want them to feel special. I don’t love thinking I have to make a terrarium and an ornament and a tin of cookies AND buy a sweater for every girl on our list. Why do I do that to myself? Now, just to disclaim: we got some much-need gifts from our parents this year which we will use and treasure and for them I am grateful. But our younger siblings can’t afford to get us anything life-changing. Neither can we afford to get anything of much substance for everyone…and THAT’S OKAY. I put so much anxiety into choosing and making gifts that get opened and forgotten about by the fireplace until everyone is packing up to leave. At which point the only thought is: how is this going to fit in our car? The whole reason we put ourselves through this is to see the people we grew up around, so why don’t we all just give each other a little bit of traveling money and call it even? Just to underline my point, here are some pictures of the presents I spent 4 or 5 hours wrapping. But that was probably the most fun part of it. Just saying.

And, this may be presumptuous but don’t be jealous. I got it off of designsponge.

To end: I can only say about our trip that we love our families and we DO like to see them, but we are probably going to find a different solution henceforth. But here is the fabled Bedford Road, Charleston WV and the equally fabled 99 year old Edwin Shuffle:

Out with the old

I wish I’d had Emily there to photograph our tiny little apartment as I got ready to say goodbye. Instead, I had our little Canon pocket camera, which has come in very handy since we bought it for our honeymoon but which doesn’t often make things prettier than they really are – which is the epitome of Emily’s photography.

I literally began tearing things off the wall after I took these pictures and I just knew I’d be sad if I didn’t document the hard work I’d put into our tiny space our first year. It went through several incarnations. This was the latest: maybe you can tell we were busting at the seams. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I over-decorated at the beginning and never got up the energy to take things down and fill in the nail holes.

Coming straight off of our wedding, I was still enamored with butter yellow. Not only did I paint the kitchen this color, I registered for yellow pottery and a yellow kitchen aid mixer. I’m not sorry…I don’t think…but this will be the last time I convince myself I will never fall out of love with a color.

Funny story: my friend John Campbell is a comic artist who returned to Chicago last year after living in Mexico for a year. Meanwhile, another friend of mine sent a mass email to some friends acquainting us with the Canadian comic artist Kate Beaton. I particularly enjoyed comics like this one and so I printed a bunch of them out and put them on our fridge – which you can see in this picture. I got in touch with John one day because I was missing him and asked him what was new in his life. To this he replied, “I’m dating a Canadian comic artist named Kate Beaton.” I was like, “you are kidding me. No, really. I have her comics all over my fridge.”

*Note* Don’t buy a huge plant from Ikea unless you have measured your space and you know exactly where it’s going to fit. Also…remember that plants grow! You’ll see this plant later, but for a long time it was the jungle through which our guests had to fight their way in order to come into our house. Plus it was under the birds collecting seed hulls and sometimes poop all day long. Speaking of the birds: they have moved into their new penthouse suite and Oh! the Developments. I’ll have to save it for a later post.

You can see our corresponding Muppets that I got from Henry on my 25th birthday. He’s Kermit and I’m Janice, although now that I know him better I think he’s more like Animal. I have always been Miss Piggy; I just didn’t want to admit it.  That owl we bought in the native village on the Panamanian island where we honeymooned. Have you ever been in the jungle, anyone? It’s a very lively place. And by that I mean gross.

This is our (somewhat) serene bedroom and wall of awesomeness.  You can see our poor plant desperately in need of water. Don’t worry, we don’t usually let him get that deprived.

But this reminds me of the story I want to tell. This happened the week before we moved. I was sitting in the living room at my table after having taken a shower and Henry was sitting the recliner which we’d moved to our bedroom at the foot of our bed. In this position, we could easily hear but not see each other. I’d left the little window in the shower and the bathroom door open to air it out as it was still very warm out.

From what I thought was the bedroom I heard a man’s voice yelling. I didn’t think much of it (Henry has a booming voice and often yells when he is stretching or doing almost anything, really.) until Henry exclaimed (rather angrily) “What the F***?!” I got up slowly and went into the bedroom asking what was up, thinking he was simply frustrated he’d fallen asleep while he was supposed to be working (he takes frequent, sometimes inadvertent, naps). He asked, “didn’t you hear that noise?” I was like, “that wasn’t YOU?! Are you sure? It sounded like it came from in here.” I started to insist he’d woken himself up with a yell when he said “NO. It was coming from where you were sitting!”

Then I started getting that creeping feeling up the back of my neck. You know: when you realize you ought to have been freaked out but weren’t. Just as I was starting to shake, yes shake, we heard it again: a loud and wordless cry in a man’s voice. I kid you not, to me it sounded sinister. And it did indeed sound as though it came from our living room. I was halfway convinced someone had been in the room with me that whole time.

I scrambled to the head of the bed and put a pillow in front of me (for safety?) and Henry dove under his side of the bed for – get this – his GUN. He had his 22 caliber rifle that he got for his birthday under his side of the bed (not loaded, trigger locked). Boy…he got that gun loaded quickly. He then tiptoed to the open door of our bedroom – as though trying to sneak up on an intruder – and I got down on the floor between my side of the bed and the closet in case someone was about to throw something in through our window. Because it was probably the apocalypse.

When Henry DIDN’T find someone in our living room, he realized it must have come from the open bathroom window (we lived on the ground floor). I think the college punks must have gotten a glimpse of him ripping open the shower curtain with his rifle barrel because they jumped straight into their silver SUV and took off.

We did eventually laugh at ourselves, which I hope you are doing right now. I will never forget the image of him stalking through our apartment with his rifle while I cowered behind the bed. And for the record, Henry informed me that he would have shot the intruder had there been one. Apparently it’s legal?…Now doesn’t that make you feel better?

Milford, MI

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These are just a few snapshots from Chris Scherf’s home town – where we spent this last weekend with the Scherfs and the Davises




It was a lot of fun. Totally worth the 5 hour drive each way! I love Michigan. On Saturday we went first to “The Nesting Place.” Chris got a whole lot more pictures of the uber-shabby-chic pieces in this store than this, but here is a taste






At this store, Henry and I splurged big time and bought a bird-cage. A humongous bird cage. Like, we can breed our own finches now. Merry and Pippin ought to be real happy, once we have the space to actually put it in our apartment. Right now it’s shoved against the wall, where it will remain until we move – which will hopefully be soon!


We also went to Spicer’s for the world’s best hot apple cider and fresh, hot cinnamon donuts. Sarah hasn’t been lying all this time when she keeps mentioning it. They were insane.



Doesn’t this post sound like a second-grade book report? Vote yes or no.



I promise there will be eye candy at the end of this post. Just so you know. Hang in there.

Okay, where to begin? I have had a busy couple of weeks. There are so many exciting things coming up in my life that I can hardly keep it all straight. The week before last I did not post at all because I was working on the stunning eye candy you are going to behold at the end of this post. It is custom jewelry for my friend Katie’s wedding – for her bridesmaids and her. She’s getting married here in Wheaton on Thanksgiving weekend and I’m so sad I can’t be there – we’re visiting Henry’s 99 year old g-pa. Maybe not many more of those visits left.

So…all week while I was painstakingly stringing beads I was watching seasons 1-4 of “Bones.” You know…Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz. She’s a forensic anthropologist, he’s an FBI agent. They are inexplicably partners and solving crimes which are mostly but not always technically federal jurisdiction. Oh, and they are currently in an extremely repressed love-affair. Anyway…I watched this show so much that I began dreaming I was joking to David Boreanaz that he ought to express himself artistically by cutting some guest star’s hair. I’m off Bones now, so this isn’t happening anymore. Whew.


Anyway, while I was watching this quality television programming on DVD and the internet I realized that Emily Deschanel – and for that matter all of the female stars of the show – is always wearing some pretty killer jewelry. And then I got one of those little lightbulbs over my head and thought: “Katie Krentz (my Lauryn-Hill-dancing-show-tune-singing-funny-girl-blow-kissing-high-school-summer-theater-friend) works at Fox. Bones is on Fox. Maybe she knows someone on Bones who could hand some jewelry to the wardrobe people to see.”

And friends. That’s is exactly what is going to happen. I figure…what have I lost if nothing happens? Aside from some of my hard-earned money? Even if my jewelry doesn’t make it to E.D.’s throat on national television; even if I NEVER get to joke around with David Boreanaz about haircuts SOMEONE MIGHT SEE MY JEWELRY. Like, maybe the wardrobe ladies won’t put it on the show, but they’ve still gotta wield some kind of fashion power, be it ever so small in the grand scheme of things. So.

Katie Krentz is my friend from two summers of LaPorte Little Theater musicals. In 1999 and 2000 we were part of the illustrious casts of “Guys and Dolls” and “Kiss Me Kate,” respectively. We got pretty close those two years – me, Katie and Sam. I haven’t talked to Sam in years, which is a shame, but Katie has gone on to work her way up in the ranks at Fox and to produce and write in several other projects, the most current of which is “Cassettes from my Ex” along with Jason Bitner of Found Magazine. People. This is some pretty cool shit. And thank you Katie for being willing. Now my challenge is to make something to fit with the Bones aesthetic while staying true to my own. It’s like my very own little Project Runway.

So…in the midst of getting some really awesome photography from Emily J Anderson I found out that one of her readers – Emily Fiffer of Daily – liked my jewelry enough to call me up and interview me! That happened yesterday and I will be in the daily email on Friday. So if you want to see it, go to and sign up for the free Chicago area newsletter. It’s a pretty cool thing to get anyway.

What else? Oh, I got to go horseback riding yesterday. You should have seen me trying to ride English style for the first time ever, post like I’m supposed to, hold the crop without freaking out the horse and not fall off all at the same time. Turns out you get sore the next day if you aren’t used to that sort of thing. And you have bruises on the insides of your knees. But it was worth it to get out of the suburbs and see some fields and pretty trees.

Okay, here’s the penultimate thing! I love that word: penultimate. I really like “Friday Night Lights.” It’s another instance of quality television programming into which I have been almost literally sucked. I have become a shameless t.v. junkie during bouts of intense jewelry making. I will rip through whole seasons in two or three days. It’s kind of sickening, actually.

Anyway – back when I was making my whole Fall and Holiday line I picked up FNL season 1 at the Wheaton Public Library. This kind of thing never ends well. I end up having to see as much of it as has been produced and so I spend more money than I should either renting or downloading more seasons. But this one was really worth it. I have started saying “ya’ll” with abandon. But not just for that reason.


I have to admit, I was initially skeptical. My DAD likes it. He has expressed disgust that it was cancelled on regular network television. My thought was that there was already enough football on t.v. without there needing to be a show about football. Also, Texas. And manufactured glory. But I LOVE it. I don’t just love the characters or the cute actors. I love the football and the Texas and the glory and the great music and the great stories. In fact this fall whenever we have passed or heard a high school football game happening Henry or I will say, “Look honey! Friday Night Lights! Glory!”

Okay…here’s the eye candy.


Whoops! Hee hee.

Here is Katie’s jewelry. She is wearing a strapless sweetheart dress with a birdcage veil. So no necklace, but two yummy bracelets on her right hand and these great earrings. I’ll let the bridesmaid’s jewelry be a surprise in case any of you reading this are them. 🙂





My anniversary ring

I love jewelry. Someday on this blog I’m going to write about editing your accessories. Do you ever see someone (or maybe you ARE this person; and if you are you’ll know it) who you can tell loves jewelry a little TOO much? Like maybe they are wearing five rings on one finger? I saw someone wearing five rings on her pinky yesterday and let me tell you that was nothing compared to the amount of jewelry in her bathroom. I’m hoping to make this person into a good customer. The weird thing was that she wasn’t otherwise overloaded with jewelry. She wasn’t even wearing a wedding band; just five rings on her left pinky finger. They were pretty, don’t get me wrong. There’s a certain little-girl part in all of us which just loves sparkly things and wants to put as many of them as possible on our adult bodies. That’s why women love diamonds. Come on, even if you are morally opposed to the diamond industry (as I am) and even if you prefer something more natural most of the time, you think diamonds are pretty. You know you do.

Okay, just a little deviation here. I know that it’s okay for guys to like diamonds, but don’t ya’ll think it looks kind of weird for a guy to have five fat diamonds set across the top of his wedding band? I mean a STRAIGHT guy. Someone else I know wore a wedding band like that and every time he pointed something out to me I couldn’t help but stare. This was a very straight-laced, precise man. Incongruous! Anyway…

I love jewelry. But I have seen it abused. I’ll end there.

This ring is a morganite stone (of the Beryl family) set in white gold. That’s an Art Nouveau setting – turn of the century – popular right around the time Morganite was found. This one, however, is a reproduction from Antique Jewelry Mall. Originally they thought Morganite was very rare because they’d never found Beryl that color so it was popular at the time with the ladies. J.P. Morgan (that’s right, Mr. Chase himself) was the biggest collector of it. It was named Morganite in honor of him.

In these photos it looks really pink, but it can look very peach too – which is why I love it. It’s very beautiful. Thank you, Henry.





It has been a year. I CAN NOT believe that last year at this time we were sitting naked in a sea of discarded silver dove wrapping paper and Jimmy John’s wrappers watching Rome season 1. I know…try to get THAT image out of your head. I can’t.

But really, I can’t do justice to how lovely this year has been or how special my memories of that day are now. In fact, at this moment I am listening to “Business Time” to which we danced at our reception. Have I done anything with our wedding photos? Nope. But I will have an anniversary ring soon. Yippie!

Parts of the day didn’t go smoothly, but it was full of love from our friends and family and our ceremony was heartbreakingly beautiful thanks to Johannah, Sarah, John Donne, Arvo Part and many more. In fact, the very ones who’ve made this year what it has been. Thanks ya’ll. And most importantly, thank YOU hubby-head. You are the bring spot in my life. (Who knew bright spots could quarrel so damn often?)

ANYWAY…we were given a free weekend stay in the Storybook Cottage in New Buffalo, Michigan: owned by some friends of mine from church a long, long time ago, Rebecca and Bill Conway. Thank YOU, Conways.













After traveling all week and taking more than 2 hours to finally get to the cottage, we were ready for a drink and a bite of shrimp at the Stray Dog:

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On the morning of our anniversary we biked to the farmer’s market to buy fresh produce, bread and cheese for our lunch. I do not have any photos of this because it was not as easy going as I had imagined. 🙂 On our way home we stopped at the antique barn next to Redemack’s. We arrived home a little sunburnt, a little butt-sweaty and very happy.






And yes, that is hubs being very healthy and very un-healthy at the same time. We HAVE quit smoking but I guess we started a new tradition of secretly smoking on our anniversary only every year.

Dinner at the Harbor Grand Terrace Cafe, where we spent our first night as the Shuffles:







On Sunday we walked on the beach and had lunch at Redemak’s, followed by too much ice cream at oinks.


Like our  new matching aviators? Don’t we both look uber hot?




It was a lovely weekend.

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