4.17.2014

SHARK BAIT

Sometimes when you run out of pots and planters, you just have to get inventive...


On my birthday, my coworkers took me out to a local tiki bar to celebrate, and this particular tiki bar serves their specialty drinks in very special mugs. On that particular occasion, I ordered a "Suffering Bastard," which was served in this beauty of a shark mug.  I mean, how am I supposed to walk into a bar and not get a drink served in a shark mug? But perhaps even more exciting than the mug itself was that, on your birthday, not only is your drink on the house, but the mug comes with it.

Stiff drink, free shark. What more can you ask for?

When I got him home, I thought it would be kind of hilarious to use him as a planter. I'd been meaning to introduce an aloe plant into our house, and it was just thin enough to fit in the jaws of this beast.


I am completely in love with just how weird this whole situation is. And am especially in love with how it looks like the shark took a huge chomp out of a green, prickly octopus, with its tentacles all sticking out.


Sorry, green, prickly octopus. It just wasn't your day.

And what's more, the hole on its snout, originally intended for a straw hole, makes the perfect little slot to water the aloe plant with.


Man, I love this thing.

So next time you're considering buying an overpriced planter at the garden center, consider making a left turn and heading to the local tiki bar. If nothing else, you'll get a strong mai tai that will give you the ridiculous idea to turn something else in your house into a goofy plant pot.


4.14.2014

MY DARKE COUNTY HOME


A few weeks ago, I was contacted to see if I would be interested in writing about my experience growing up in my little hometown in Darke County, Ohio. The piece ran on last weekend in the Visitors' Bureau insert in the Early Bird, the county newspaper (as did a couple of our engagement photos, which were taken at the Great Darke County Fair). I've got fond memories growing up in such a quaint and quiet place, and enjoy talking about its quirks and the things that make it special to anyone who may not be familiar. It was a fun piece to write, and, to be honest, was a lot easier to write than I initially thought it would be. While I may live hundreds of miles away, I still catch myself calling that place "home," and probably will until the day I die. I'm happy with the piece, and I wanted to share it with all my readers, even those who may not be familiar with that tiny, rural town where I grew up. Chances are, you may have a tiny town that these words conjure up warm feelings about, as well.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Pulling onto State Route 127 after six hours on the road, the feeling hits. A sense of warmth washes over me as our car careens north, passing through miles and miles of field, flora and farmland. It’s been a while since I’ve driven on country roads, but I know these ones by heart and fondly remember every wind and curve that takes me back to the place where I grew up.

It’s been six years since I moved to Milwaukee, where I was married last year, where I bought my home and where I plan to live for many years to come. But 29 years ago my roots were planted deep in Darke County, and every time I make the drive back, with every mile closer I reach, that same warm feeling swells. No matter how long I’ve been gone, I always refer to Greenville as “home.”

Whenever people ask about my hometown, I’m usually met with a quizzical look, to which I respond with the usual quip, “The birthplace of Annie Oakley! The only place where KitchenAid stand mixers are made! Have you ever heard of the Treaty of Greenville?” I could go on, and given the chance, I will. Given the chance, I’d describe the subtle spice of the sandwiches at the Maid-Rite, impossible to duplicate; of the restaurant’s brick walls covered in gum and about the afternoons we’d walk there after school in junior high. I’d tell them how the official start of summer directly coincides with the opening day at Jim’s Drive In. I’d talk up the Great Darke County Fair, and how exciting it would be to stroll down the midway, aglow in flashing lights. I’d tell them about how the long line for Farmer Brown sandwiches was well worth the wait; how you’ll never feel more refreshed than after slurping down a Rotary Lemonade Shake-Up; how a colorful wooden cane is the greatest prize you could ever hope to win; how I can still hear the warm voice ringing throughout the grounds, calling me to meet my friends at the Mike Tent.

If prodded to continue, I’d speak with pride about the ability to pinpoint the smell of a hog farm, and how the best pork chop you’ll ever eat will come from Winner’s. I’d speak about my favorite stretch of land, out on my grandparents’ property on Byrely Road, sandwiched between corn fields, with a stream sweetly flowing through. I’d conjure the memory of my cousins and I, falling through the ice on that stream when I was young, horrified not so much that our feet would freeze, but that we’d surely be in a heap of trouble. I’d talk about how we were greeted with hugs--not scolding--and the memory of the four of us in line, lying with our feet up, warming by the wood-burning stove.

If, by this time, this person is still interested in learning more about the place where I grew up, I’d smile and describe with detail the thrill of playing Capture the Flag in the Greenville City Park, of sledding down Memorial Hill and hoping that, this time, you just might have built up enough momentum to make it all the way to the ice-covered lagoon. I’d lean in and whisper about the time I “borrowed” a baby duckling from the park lagoon when I was five years old, about how I brought it home, named it Puddles and called it my new pet...all before my parents had discovered what I’d done and made me take him back. I’d explain how it was simple for me to go so, as my hometown was quaint and safe enough for someone so young to walk a couple blocks down to the park to play.

But more than anything, if given the chance to summarize my experience growing up in Darke County, I’d describe the feeling of pride I have to count this place as home. It’s slow-moving and simple, laid-back and friendly. It may not come with the thrill of living in the heart of a bustling city, but when you look up at night and see the sea of stars twinkling over the gentle plains of farmland, you feel a sense of contentment that can’t be reproduced. It’s the place that I’ll always refer to as “home,” no matter where I travel, no matter how many years I’ve been away from this humble stretch of rural land with roads that wind their way to homes filled with the same warm memories as my own.



4.11.2014

YOUR WEEKLY PINS

Hey... it's Friday, the sun is shining in Milwaukee and there's rumor that it might hit 70 degrees (inland). That is reason enough for a thousand virtual high fives to you, my friends. It's also reason enough to share some of the things that have been grabbing my attention on Pinterest. Here goes!


HOMEY


Home is where your heart is. | Jessica Silversaga
[I love the rugged simplicity of this bathroom. The classic white subway tile on the walls and the mini hexagon tiles on the floor...both decked out with dark grout. I love the old sink on beat-up legs and I especially love all the brass plumbing in the room. It reminds me of a little bathroom you'd find in an old French hotel.]


Design*Sponge Sneak Peek: The nook”: This is our wee little guest room (well, I may have taken a few naps in there as well.) The back wall is Krylon chalkboard paint with rubbed chalk. The lights are from Target and the bed is Ikea.
[If there's space for it, everyone should have a napping nook like this one. A little tucked away corner with dreamy lights and a chalkboard accent wall for jotting down thoughts. Love this little space.]

Image Via: Remain Simple
[I guess I've just been drawn to stark white spaces recently? There's something to be said for a well-styled kitchen. The baby-pink coffee maker and bowl up on the shelf are basically perfection together, and mix in those little patterned mugs and copper mule mugs and it's just all so gorgeous.]

Trend to Try: Half Painted Zigzag Walls
[Just to prove that, yes, this is Rachel and she does still have a thing for bright colors, I have to include this sweet kid's room. I love, love, love the jagged, almost "mountaintop" paint job on the wall, and all the colors are just so sweet together without being too saccharine.]


I WANT TO EAT THAT
Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos with Lime Crema Recipe on twopeasandtheirpod.com LOVE these healthy tacos!
[With the weather warming up, I say bring on the bright, fresh flavors, like these roasted cauliflower and chickpea tacos. Don't they look delicious? Serve 'em up with a margarita and that's one awesome summer dinner.]


cake with edible flowers | designlovefest
[This simple cake had me smitten all dressed up with scatters of edible flowers. It's understated, beautiful and so fun with its smattering of bright colors.]

Chocolate mousse pie with peanut butter whip + pretzel crust by Ashlae | oh, ladycakes,
[There's basically nothing that Ashlae at Oh, Ladycakes makes that I don't want to devour right away (girl makes vegan baking look like child's play). But when she posted this chocolate mousse pie with peanut butter whip and pretzel crust on our mutual birthday last Friday, I basically stumbled all over myself to pin this recipe away for the next rainy day.]


I CAN HAZ STYLE?

Aplomb Aplenty: Bold Stripes + Bright Florals.
[I think this is just the sweetest outfit. Love the mix of patterns while matching the red in both the skirt and shirt. So cute for summer.]

Converse All Star Sneakers for Unisex
[I've got a dilemma. I want these white Converse All Stars but also I know my history with white shoes...I'll wear them to a show, they'll get trampled on and then I'll, well, continue wearing them because hey I spent good money on them and what am I going to do, just throw them away because they're a little grungy? I'm on the fence about buying them, even though I think they'd be so fun to wear with skinny jeans and a lose t-shirt this summer.]

maxi dress and knotted tee
[I like the idea of dressing down a maxi dress or skirt by topping it with a plain ol' t-shirt, then tying it at the waist, early-'90s style. This is a great look for the summer street festival scene.]


I WANT
Heart Straw - Pack Of 20
[Do I have an event in mind where I'd use these heart straws? No. Do I care? No. Do I still want them so I can drink Moscow Mules through them all summer? Absolutely.]

Sunny Life Beach Radio - SO cute, want this!!
[This is a portable radio and it's completely something that I do not need whatsoever but, I mean, come on.... the colors are so cute and it looks like a little happy robot that just wants to make your beach party more fun with bubblegum pop tunes.]



RACHY LIKEY
"Rachy Likey" is a new-ish board that's quickly become one of my favorites. I just fill it up with random things that stand out to me... fun colors, cute ideas, beautiful pictures....anything that makes me stop and look at it for a bit longer than I would anything else. 
polka dot mini cheesecakes
[From the food styling to the overall shoot styling I love everything about this pic.]


Love
[From now on, I'm never not going to top my succulent pots in anything but hot pink gravel. Mark my words.]

little pink beach shacks
[I don't know where this magical beach is that's filled with sherbet-colored cabanas but I want to rent one for the day and eat cupcakes in there.]

pastel + nude.
[Can I have all of these chairs? I'll even mount them all on a wall if it means I can have them all. In those colors exactly.]


ADORABLES

stop it
[And, just because it's Friday and I don't know if you've met your quota of seeing big, floppy puppy ears for the week.....here you go. This one's on me.]



There are plenty more where these came from! To see everything I pin all week long, follow me on Pinterest.

While you're at it, like What I'm Loving Today on Facebook, too.




4.10.2014

THREE OTHER THINGS ABOUT ME

My favorite comedian is John Mulaney. He's smart, self-deprecating and I've listened to both of his stand-up albums, "The Top Part" and "New in Town" a dozen or so times each in the past couple of years and I'm not tired of them yet. I'm pretty excited about his upcoming sitcom, and hope it does well. Anyway, in one of my favorite bits from "New in Town," which is actually the joke the title of the album is taken from, Mulaney describes running into a homeless man who introduces himself by listing four (unsettling) things about him, unsolicited....it keeps me in stitches, and within one of my favorite parts of that bit, a character of his asks, "What are three other things about him?"

Just watch it for yourself.

Anyway, now that I've shared one thing about myself today, in honor of this fabulous joke, I am going to share three other, completely random, thoughts about me, right now.

Three Other Things - I'm Loving Today


I have been very much enjoying Nickel Creek's "The Dotted Line." I've been a Nickel Creek fan for a long time...since their 2000 self-titled debut. Comprising of three former child prodigies on their respective instruments, their music is beautiful and sweet, sometimes romping and playful, sometimes tragic and heartbreaking. It's light listening, but has always made me happy. The band parted ways after 2005's splendid "Why Should the Fire Die," and when I learned of their reunion and (surprise!) new album last month, I was pretty excited. The Dotted Line picks up wonderfully where Why. . . left off. Lyrically and, as impossible as it seems, musically, it's easy to tell the musicians have all grown up (sure, they've been around for 25 years, but started when two band members were eight, and one was 12). I was sold damn near immediately.

This summer, I want to read all of my favorite childhood books over again. A couple weeks ago, after watching the first trailer for the upcoming film adaptation of "The Giver," I remembered how much I enjoyed the book the first time I read it, when I was 11 or 12 years old. I also remembered how I always thought it would make for a great movie, though the trailer (shot in what looks like full color for the duration of the film...which, frankly, is kind of a slap in the face to the main premise of the book...but I digress) didn't look like it was going to hold a candle to the beloved novel. Anyway, I "check out" the eBook on my iPad from my local library (which is some pretty futuristic stuff in itself), and read it over the span of two days. I really enjoyed revisiting the book from an adult perspective, and was even more affected by the ending that I remember being as a pre-teen. I've got a list of books I'd like to read this summer ("Unbroken," "The Fault in Our Stars" and a Teddy Roosevelt biography--thank you, HIMYM), but after rereading "The Giver," I'm curious to revisit some of my childhood favorites. I'd start with Road Dahl, as he was my childhood hero (and still is, to a degree), and maybe even give "Matilda" another go around (I read "Matilda" 15 times as a kid). I just think it would be fun to read these stories with 20 more years of life under my belt just to see how I view them today.

Batiste Dry Shampoo is the best beauty product I've discovered in a loooonnggg time. When beauticians started telling people that you should only wash your hair a couple times a week to keep hair healthy, this was music to my incredibly lazy ears. You see, I'll never be a "wash and go" type of girl, as I've got some weird-ass curls going on up on my head that can't be tamed (and just don't look great naturally). It takes me quite a while to get my hair in presentable order, so you can understand why I'd want to cut back on performing this task as much as possible. I hopped on board the "three times a week" train, but needed something to freshen up my hair in between. After trying a handful of dry shampoos on the market, I stumbled across Batiste. I was mostly drawn in by the garishly bright packaging, but when I tried it out, I was amazed by A) How great it smelled and B) How it sopped up head grease (sorry, that sounds gross) so easily. It also adds great volume and helps hold your style throughout the day. You guys, it's a wonder product. But what made it even MORE wonderful was when I discovered the dark brown hair version... no more "powdered wig" look when you freshly spray it on. The colored dry shampoo basically matches my hair perfectly before I even work the product in. It's incredible and at around $7 a can you can't beat the price of this hair saver.





4.07.2014

LIKE ME. REALLY, REALLY LIKE ME.

I've been blogging on this here site for (more or less) five years. There have been periods of inactivity (Hello, 2013), along with stretches where I was busting out at least three posts for week (2011, the year we bought our home). There are so many times I regret not being a good blogger, not posting enough, not posting the absolute highest-quality stuff I possibly can. I refuse to post "just to post" anymore, while I also refuse to let months go by without posting a word (I still owe you guys a better round up of our wedding, including more photos... look for that as our anniversary creeps up next month). I want to be good to you guys. I want you to continue loving this space and I want to continue loving it myself.

In an effort to recommit myself to this blog, I finally got around to making an official Facebook page for it, which went live this morning. There, I'll share all blog posts, as well as other fun inside scoops on behind-the-blog kinds of things (including more photos of who has become the blog's official mascot, Mr. Pancakes...and Lieu Lieu, if I can ever get her to pose for the camera). It's been a long time coming, and I think I'm finally back to a place where I can keep up with my job, two blogs, an official Facebook page, never-ending house projects, making things I love and also working in some freelance writing while I'm at it. I'm kind of tired just thinking about all of those things, but it's the kind of tired I welcome with arms and legs and ears and appendages.

So, anyway, the main reason behind the post is to get you lovely readers over to Facebook to "like" I'm Loving Today's official page. So...do that. Please? I'm thinking of hosting a giveaway once I get close to a certain number of likes, so keep on the lookout for that. I'll announce it when the time comes.

The littler reason behind this post is to let you all know that this blog is going to lean toward a slightly broader focus going forward. Sure, it will be mainly about home decor and DIY adventures as it has been for years now, but I also want to make it a space where I can feel free to share whatever the heck is taking up space in my ding-dong ol' brain. I love sharing lifestyle posts with you (like the "29 Thoughts" from last week), and it's the kind of writing I enjoy doing most. So look out for more general posts ahead. (*Salutes* "General Posts.")

Okay, thanks for lending your ear, errrr...eyes for a bit. You guys rock and roll.

Also, if you haven't done so yet, like my page.




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