Hey, remember approximately a hundred years ago when I broke the news that we're adding on to our house? What if I told you I'm currently writing this very post from my brand-new office space in our brand-new second floor???

Well, I'd be lying if I told you that. It'd be a lie. Because that space doesn't exist.

We'd hoped that our new addition to the second floor, as well as our new front porch, would be finished by September. But here we are in the first week of September and not a thing has happened. About a month or so ago, the original contractor we'd chosen to go with contacted us, breaking the news that the original quote we'd agreed on wouldn't be possible...but it would have to go up by $13,000. Ummmm..... WUT? Absolutely not. We were pretty frustrated by the situation, and the contractor said they'd understand if we decided against using them, which was exactly what we did. It was just too much.

So there we were, with no contractor and precious summer construction-time dwindling. We went back to another contractor who'd given us a similar quote to the first one, and explained the situation. He looked over the work scope, the drawings and the contract the other company had drawn up. After looking it over he assured us they could do the job for the price of the original quote. He was confident, knowledgable and perfectly realistic about what we wanted done. What's more, his company had built two houses on our block already, and we've been inside of each, so we've seen the beautiful work they can do. We were set.

The only problem was, in the time we'd selected the other contractor, this company had already taken on a couple more jobs for the year. Construction wouldn't even be able to start until November, so with the looming danger of snow and another Wisconsin winter-pocalypse (thanks, Farmers' Almanac) on its way, there's no way we could start then. The addition has been put on hold.

We're hoping to get everything underway early next spring. What's a few more months of waiting, right? We'll have a few more months to save up for the downpayment, a few more months to think of finishes and decor. We'll have a few more months to build anticipation, and when it's done, we'll be able to enjoy our new porch all summer (hopefully). After all this time, we're not too broken up about waiting a little bit longer. When it homes to construction, nothing gets done in the time you expect it to, so now that we've learned this lesson, it'll make the payoff twice as sweet.



Image via nicelyturnedout.com
When surfing through the documentary section of Netflix a couple weekends ago, I stumbled upon "Bill Cunningham New York." I can't say I'm the biggest follower of couture fashion, but something about this movie jumped out at me. I decided to watch it on a whim, and I'm so glad I did. Bill Cunningham has been photographing street fashion in New York City for decades, standing on street corners in Manhattan, waiting for a passerby's ensemble to catch his eye. He doesn't follow celebrities—he's never owned a TV—he just knows what he likes, what looks interesting and then publishes it in his column for the New York Times. But what's way more interesting that the subjects he's photographing (even Anna Wintour says, deadpan, "You get dressed for Bill every morning), is Bill himself. Surrounded by the glitz and glamour of high fashion, it'd be easy to get caught up in it all, to feel a little superior, but Bill Cunningham is one of the most humble, spirited, low-key people you'll know. His apartment is filled with filing cabinets of every photo he's ever taken; he doesn't have a bed, just a mat and a blanket on top of some filing cabinets. Hell, he doesn't even have a kitchen, and the bathroom's located down the hall. He wears the same flimsy blue jacket everywhere he goes (so many pockets to hold his film), and even as he celebrates his 80th birthday, he nimbly navigates his bicycle through busy Manhattan traffic, from one social function to the next.

I've never fallen in love with a person in a film quite as fast as I did with Bill Cunningham (as Roger Ebert so simply and perfectly began his wonderful review of the film, "Here is a movie about a happy and nice man." That's all you need to know.). I was smiling so broadly throughout most of this film, in awe of this character and his gracious, humble attitude. It's so refreshing. I absolutely loved this movie (and apparently, I'm not the only one; it's got an impressive 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes...). It's the best documentary I've seen in the last five years.

And, while we're on the subject of fashion...


When I was in high school, I had a pair of clunky penny loafers (with tassels!) that I thought were awesome. You know, chunky heels, scuffed toes peeking out under the hem of my faded bootcut jeans...they were pretty rad. I threw them out years ago once ballet flats became the thing, and haven't thought of them since....until the past couple weeks. I know penny loafers aren't exacting a blazing-hot trend (I think they've been the next "it" shoes for at least a year), but I'm finally on board and I think they're adorable. With a low profile (no more chunky heels), they're cute with skinny jeans and a slubby long-sleeved t-shirt, leggings and a tunic or even cropped pants and a blazer, they're awesome for dressing up and down. Leather, black, bright colors, metallic...I love 'em all. I just ordered some the other day and can't wait until they come in. You know, just so I can get 'em all scuffed up again.

Image via beerplaylist
Okay, so this beer is nothing new. It's been around for a while, and it's been my go-to fall beer for about three years now...but it's the best pumpkin beer out there, and I get super excited when I first begin spotting it on tap and in stores this time of year. I started buying up bottles a couple weeks ago to keep stock for fall, but refused to drink it until September. But, guess what, it's September now, so even though it's hotter now in Milwaukee than it was all summer, it's time to pour this delicious brew down the gullet. If you haven't tried any Southern Tier beers before and they distribute in your area, go right out and try any of them—this brewery is pretty reliable when it comes to putting out awesome beer all year long. But this one usually does the trick for me, filling the gap between summer's extra-hoppy IPAs and winter's supply of Great Lakes Brewing Company's Christmas Ale.



Image via shareable.net

Have you heard of the tiny-house movement? It's something I've seen picking up speed among the home design world in the last couple years, and in the past couple months I've noticed it's cracking its way into the mainstream more than ever. There are blogs, TV shows and movies dedicated to the building of these homes under 200 square feet, and I find it absolutely fascinating.

Last week, I watched the documentary "TINY" on Netflix. I'd been meaning to watch it, thanks to a suggestion from a friend, for a long time, but finally had an open Sunday evening to get down to it. While it wasn't the greatest doc I'd seen recently (that title goes to Bill Cunningham New York...seriously, watch it. You'll never fall in love with another stranger so easily), I was caught up in the world of these adventurous people willing to let go of "stuff" and live sustainably in homes that are the size of some people's bathrooms.

The doc follows Christopher Smith (also the creator and director of the film) as he builds his own tiny home with no prior construction experience. We also meet a number of people across the country who've been members of the tiny home community for a number of years. Now, some of these people are what Eric so eloquently refers to as "Smell your own farts" people...a little too into themselves...a little almighty...so it can be a little grating to watch, but the movie makes you realize it's not only possible to live in a small space, but it can also be incredibly freeing.

Truthfully, there's a small part of me that  can feel a little inferior living in a smaller home. I look at the homes of friends who live in suburbs, rural areas and subdivisions and feel a little jealous sometimes. They've got huge spaces with flowing floorplans and more storage space that the entire square footage of our house. I wonder, when they come to our simple home, if they think it's too small, too cramped, too difficult to feel comfortable in. I sometimes wonder how we'll manage if and when our family grows, which is why we're adding a little more space on to our home (project's been put on hold until next spring...more on that later) to create more livable space. Our home is just right for us now, and we bought it because it's in an incredible, sought-after location...I've said it a million times before: I love our little home. But it's easy to feel a little inferior when your peers seem to have it all in giant homes larger than the one I grew up in.

But while I watched this movie I grew even happier that we have the home that we do. Our just-under 1,200 square-foot home is more than four times the size of many of the homes I saw featured in "TINY," and we've got a decent (read: dry and finishable) basement and an incredible backyard to boot. Our small home costs less to heat (we don't have air conditioning), is super fast to clean and keeps us in check when it comes to collecting "stuff" (lately I've had to forego bringing home some pretty awesome pieces of furniture because we literally have nowhere else to put anything). It keeps us cozy and close when we're hanging out, but gives us enough "separate" space when Eric's watching pro football in the basement on Sundays while I'm getting my Sam-and-Diane fix via a mini-marathon of "Cheers" in the living room. We're never too far away from one another, while still having enough space where we're not stumbling all over each other.

The tiny-house movement has kind of woken me up and made me realize we don't need a ton of "stuff." We don't need extra rooms that we'll never even use and we don't need a big, newly-built home to be happy. We can walk to the lake in two minutes flat, we've got an amazing little market three doors down from our own and we can walk to more than a dozen bars and restaurants within a one-mile radius. We live on a beautiful block in an incredible neighborhood and I wouldn't trade that for anything. I'm not coming down on big houses, I'm just realizing that, for us, having a small home works.

Have you heard of the tiny-house movement? What kind of space do you live in? I'm always curious to learn how other people use the space they live in...if they ever feel like making a purge and getting rid of their excess stuff in order to live a little more simply. There's nothing wrong with having a big house, but I think it's so interesting to see this movement reaching more people and rewiring them to think just how much space they really need to live comfortably.



A couple weekends ago, Eric and I traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with our friends Andy and Emily for a few days of general relaxation. Eric and Andy had visited the U.P.'s Keweenaw Peninsula (Mt. Bohemia, to be exact) last winter for a dude's weekend of snowboarding, and as soon as they returned, Eric excitedly began planning a trip for the four of us (plus two pups) to visit come summertime.

The drive from Milwaukee to the Keweenaw Peninsula takes about seven hours, but it's a pretty drive, broken up by little towns that seem to be stuck in time from decades ago. There's something exciting about driving through a part of your own state that you've never seen before. Northeast Wisconsin seems like a completely different world than Southeast Wisconsin, and although I love living in the city, it was a welcome escape to rolling hills and northwoods living.

By the time we got to the southernmost part of the Keweenaw, we were ready for lunch and—possibly even more so—a drink. We rolled into Houghton, Michigan, which is a sleepy little college town, home to Michigan Tech. I fell in love with the campus. Set along a little canal, Houghton sits among some rolling, wooded hills, that students have lovely views from their dorms. What's more, part of their tuition includes yearlong lift passes for the ski slope that's just across the canal from campus. That's a pretty sweet deal.

Another sweet deal is the Keweenaw Brewing Company, located on the main drag through town. It's a fairly bare-bones establishment, but I can just imagine how nice it'd be to cozy up in the brewery's lounge area on a cold winter day, sipping on beer by the fireplace.

We stayed for one beer each (I had the November Gale Pale Ale, which was pretty delicious), then went on our way. We stopped at a local grocery store in Houghton to pick up groceries for the long weekend, then drove further north into the peninsula to our next destination.


The Jampot is a tiny little bakery near Eagle Harbor that's run by the monks of the Society of St. John. They specialize in jams (duh), but especially thimbleberry jam. The thimbleberry is fairly exclusive to the Keweenaw peninsula (though we also learned they grow in the Pacific Northwest and also, apparently, New Mexico), and taste sort of like a cross between a raspberry and cranberry. A little bit tart, a little bit sweet. When we arrived around 3:00pm on Saturday, the place was hopping...as I imagine it always is. It made taking pictures difficult, and my anxiety level was sky-high thanks to so many people shuffling around in a tiny space...so we made our purchases and got outside quickly.

We picked up a couple of jars of jam, some cupcakes and some boozy fruitcake absolutely soaked in brandy (it was amazing). I got a (mammoth sized) gingerbread cupcake that had the most amazing lemon frosting ever. I was in awe of the combination of the two flavors—cozy and tart—and couldn't stop talking about it the rest of the weekend. Those monks know what they're doing.

Once we plowed through our treats, it was time to get to our rental for the weekend. It was a sweet little cabin on Lac La Belle, and was actually on a peninsula on a peninsula on a peninsula. It was quaint and adorable, with beadboard all around and an amazing view from all sides. The lake was literally 10 feet from the house.

Next door there was a family with a gaggle of kids. The cousins were having a blast all weekend, and we had a great time watching them diving for mussels, going fishing and tubing.

After our first night, we woke up the next morning ready for a hike. We drove to a trail near Bare Bluff with lunch in our backpacks.

We hardly needed lunch, though, because the trail was lined with hundred, possibly thousands, of thimbleberry bushes. The weekend we stayed must have been the height of thimbleberry season—they were EVERYWHERE! Our hike probably took twice as long with all our stops to pick berries along the way.

And then we got to the serious part. This trail had the best hiking I've found in the area. Full of rocks and shale and roots. We were glad we left the dogs at home—there's no way they could have made it through the steep and rocky climbs.

As if we didn't get our fill of berries earlier, we almost stumbled across some blueberry bushes along the trail.

Then, after about an hour of sweating our way along the bluff, we made it to the top, and our efforts were rewarded.

There were some seriously gorgeous views from the top of the bluff. My photos won't come close to doing them justice. We all sat down and enjoyed some peanut butter and thimbleberry jam sandwiches while we took in the view. This was an afternoon that'd be hard to beat.

After the hike, we went back to the cabin, changed into swim gear and packed a cooler. We'd definitely earned an afternoon at the beach, and on an abnormally warm day in the Keweenaw (around 80 degrees and sunny), we treated ourselves to a beach day with a swim in Lake Superior.

The lake was clear, with a gorgeous, sandy bottom. It was perfect for swimming.

It was good we got the swimming in that afternoon, because the next morning we woke up to this:

Rain and fog. All. Day. Long. The temperature had dropped about 25 degrees overnight, so we put on our warm clothes and rain jackets. Our plans for another day of hiking were foiled, so we did what we could with the crummy day. Bring on the eating and drinking.

We went to the historic Michigan House Cafe and Red Jacket Brewery in Calumet, which has been in business for more than 100 years. The mural you see curving over top of the old, wooden bar was painted from a Milwaukee artist in 1912. Aside from a little water damage, it was vibrant and lively, even 102 years later. The place was all of history, as we read in the restaurant's menu, and it was a joy to just sit there and look at all the antique treasures around us. The tilework was original to the building, and was just stunning.

We spent some time driving up and down the peninsula, then ended up in Copper Harbor at the Brickside Brewery. This place redefines "hole in the wall," and sits back in a dark, concrete room, with low light, the smell of yeast permeating throughout the space.

I was impressed with the tiny brewery's beer, especially their Red Metal Amber. But their homemade root beer was the best I'd ever had. It tasted like no other root beer I'd tried before, and I'm still kicking myself for not buying a growler of the stuff to take home. What a treat!

That night, we went back to the cabin, went for a moonlit kayak (under the light of the Super Moon!), the boys went fishing and we all played a game of Cards Against Humanity. Although we were disappointed with a crummy day of weather on our last day, it was the perfect way to spend our last evening in the cabin.

The next morning we took our time packing up, sipping coffee, writing detailed messages in the guestbook and eating breakfast. We packed up, ready for the long drive back to Milwaukee.

But first, we stopped at the Hilltop restaurant in L'anse, Michigan...because, obviously, we couldn't pass it without splitting the biggest f'ing cinnamon roll I've ever seen in my life (Eric's head next to it for size).

Served with a steak knife.

That, my friends, is how you end a trip. It's also how you spend the next six hours fighting off a sugar-induced coma in the car. 

We'll be back.



It's been a long time coming.

I love this space. I love that it's always here if I need an outlet. If I want to share what's been consuming my days. If I need to break some news. For the last few years, that's been home design and DIY. It's been fun. It's kept me busy. It's been a motivator. But I guess, for the past few months, it hasn't been driving me. It's not my number-one reason for being. Not the driving force for me doing. It's just another thing I'm interested in the sea of things that interest me. But it's not the only thing.

I don't want to abandon this space, and I think the only way for me to keep it going is to broaden the focus. I may lose some of you because of this, and I totally understand. I've probably lost plenty already with all the radio silence. I understand. But now this space is going to be for me. No guilt if I feel like it doesn't fit a theme. No worry if I miss a week here or there. No pressure to be on trend. In style. Constantly working inside another life where I'm constantly working.

So, here it comes. I'm just going to let this space be about me. I'll never lie and tell you I'm not a narcissist. You've got to be, just a little bit, to run a blog about yourself. So excuse me while I change direction and start using this space as a way to share whatever the hell I want. Will there be a DIY here and there? You betcha. Will I share home style and design trends I love? Uh huh. But I'm also going to talk about myself—what's going on in my life, where I travel, what I'm spending my free time doing, what my thoughts are on headlines...I'm hoping to share a little creative fiction I want to get around to. I want this space to call to me, not sucker me into guilt.

It'll be freewheeling. Genuine. Spastic. Sporadic. But it'll be a space that makes me feel better. It'll let me be me, instead of a persona I sometimes feel trapped inside. I'm hoping it will free me to post more. I'm hoping it will be a place you continue enjoying.

But if not, don't worry. At least it'll be for me.



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