greener grass

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Is there somewhere you feel absolutely comfortable and at ease?  For me, that place has always been smushed between my brother and my sister.  The three of us have a similarly silly sense of humor, and coming together always means lots of laughter, inside jokes, and secret languages.
My mom’s best friend (aka her sister) started having children when my brother, sister and I started elementary school, and our cousins quickly became like younger siblings to us.  Before they could question what was normal, we shared our silly secrets and expanded our trio to an incredibly happy sixsome.
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You can tell fate brought us Jon (my husband) and Daniel (my sister’s husband) because their quirky personalities make them a natural fit for our family. Where am I going with all this?  The eight of us got together for the Fourth of July, and the entire weekend felt like home.  I know, I know, a weekend can’t feel like home, right?  But the thing is, being with them – no matter the location – feels like home to me. photo (66)
Making something ‘feel like home’ is a pretty important task.  I grew up in Phoenix, went to college in New Orleans, and then lived in Mexico (volunteering), Chicago (graduate school), Wisconsin (husband’s job) and Minneapolis over a period of 5 years.  During that time, my parents moved to Washington DC, my brother graduated school in South Carolina, and my sister bought a home in Phoenix.  Jon’s family lives in Wisconsin and my grandparents and best friends are in Chicago.  Can you see how spread out my heart is?  The people I love are dispersed all over this wonderful country.
I wish I could convince my nearest and dearest to buy homes on the same street as me, but it’s probably not written in the stars.  Instead, I find all kinds of happiness by bringing everyone together.  That picture above?  A little bit of the greatness – my sister’s husband, my sister, me, Jon, and my baby brother.

Where do you feel most at home?

Graphic made with the Rhonna Designs app.

feels like home

Is there anything happier than walking around a lake in the middle of summer?  There is something wonderfully satisfying about knowing you can jump into the water and cool off at any time.

Perhaps, however, the walk is more beautiful in the fall?  You can proceed along as usual, except this time the trees are ablaze with dazzling colors of red, orange and gold.  Kick and crunch the leaves as you walk.

The falling leaves foretell the swirling snow, and, to be honest, I might just prefer the sparkling snowflakes to the varietal leaves.  A white blanket descends and makes everything feel overwhelming calm and peaceful.

And then, alas, what could be lovelier than the spring?  Bits of color return to the trees and the flowers slowly emerge from the snow.  A promise of summer hangs in the air and “the only problem is deciding where to be the happiest” – (Hemmingway).

This rhapsody is intended as an ode to Minneapolis, my favorite city in the world.  I’ve lived in 5 American and 3 international cities, and I’ve never come to call a place ‘home’ quite so quickly.  The seasons are stunning, the natural landscape beckons to be enjoyed (hiking, swimming, fishing, biking, etc) and the cultural milieu leaves little to be desired (Restaurants? Theater? Shopping? All here).

The best thing about Minneapolis, perhaps, is how it manages to make a cosmopolitan city feel like a charming small town.  I’m on a first-name basis with the local barista, the neighborhood grocer, and the apartment mailman.  What’s more, my best friends all live within walking distance.

A recent study shows that people truly feel more ‘at home’ in some cities based on their temperament, values, and lifestyle.  Which state(s) do you identify with?

Images from a place for art and Time Magazine.

the mushy-gushy-grab-a-tissue variety

For a long time, I felt an incredible sense of urgency to meet exotic people in foreign cities. I wanted to explore new lands and experience different ways of living. Above all, I wanted to learn, as quickly as possible, where I belonged.

A lucky few are born somewhere they feel comfortable, and rarely venture far from home. Others, however, associate home with a place they’ve never been, and they spend their time searching, searching, searching for somewhere that feels safe.

I know it sounds cliché, but my search for belonging ended when I met Jon. You know all those songs about how a person feels like home? That’s exactly how it was. We met, and after a few short weeks, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. My search was over.

This post ended up being of the mushy-gushy-grab-a-tissue variety, and I apologize. The thing is, I’m beginning a number of DIY projects for the apartment and the idea of belonging is on my mind. Today the crafting revolved around mason jars: I turned one into a makeup brush holder, and then I transformed another into a flower vase for my friend, Amy.

Here is a preview of the flower vase I made for Amy:Image

Just for fun, I created this print for you to keep:

home is wherever i’m with you

ImageMy mom and my grandma love baking Swedish pancakes, and whenever my grandma visits, the two of them chat and enjoy the sweet treats before waking me and my siblings for breakfast.  By the time we join them, the house is filled with the smell of butter & jam.

I moved to college in New Orleans when I turned 18, and the experience with the wild&artistic city inspired an incredible sense of wanderlust: I wanted to see everything.  In four years I changed my address 6 times: I studied abroad in Rome, spent a summer au-pairing in Milan, volunteered a year in Mexico, and then moved to Chicago for graduate school.

I associated home with the sound of my sister singing in the shower, my brother yelping loudly when he passed a new level on Halo (an XBOX game), and my parents giggling over inside jokes.  Luckily, none of those things are associated with an address or a building, and so I was able to take my home on the road. Like a turtle, right?

But seriously, roommates singing in the shower reminded me of my sister, Caity.  Dates laughing so loudly that soda spurted out their nose reminded me of my brother, Sam.  I felt close to my mom anytime someone was able to make me feel calm.

My little sister is a kindergarten teacher in Phoenix, and she recently won her dream home in a housing lottery.  What’s a housing lottery, you ask?  It’s a special lottery that allows firemen, police-officers and teachers to buy a house in foreclosure at a huge discount  It’s hard to imagine someone more deserving than my hardworking and kindhearted sister.

Anyway! Caity is moving this week, and I wanted to help make her new house feel like a home.  I decided to make a make a floral wreath out of paper, and calligraph “home is wherever i’m with you” on the inside.  You can see my project below, and maybe, just maybe, Caiters will send us a picture of the artwork hanging in her new home.

I started with a circle of paper as an outline for the wreath:
Made leaves out of colored paper:
Made the task a little easier with pre-made paper flowers:Image
ImageAnd placed the entire wreath in a shadow-box frame:Image

getting intimate with 387,753 strangers

i got into a debate this weekend about the pros and cons of city vs. suburban vs. rural living.  the city gets my vote time and again because it’s the only living environment that allows you to interact with new people every day, thereby creating the opportunity for endless interactions and exchanges.  my friend countered, saying that the hundreds of thousands of people in the city rarely talk to strangers or neighbors, and so you might as well live in a cabin in the woods.  the topic then switched to where we would want our 5 hypothetical vacation homes, and the conversation was seemingly forgotten.

this morning I confirmed minneapolis is the 47th largest city in the nation with 387,753, residents.  47 is a respectable number if for no other reason that it makes the top 50.  still, I’m convinced that if people make an effort toward intimacy, then a large city can feel welcoming and communal.

if welcome mats could speak, they would say something like ‘hello friend! welcome to this house. please come inside and get cozy.” right?  or no? maybe i’m making odd assumptions about inanimate objects.  either way, the welcome mat seems to hint at the importance of community.

today i made 6 welcome mats out of vinyl, stencils and paint, and then i placed them around the city: 3 for residents in my apartment, and 3 for strangers living in houses nearby.ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

home is wherever i’m with you

Jon and I were living in downtown Chicago when his job relocated him to rural Wisconsin.  When he told me where his new office was located, we had to pull out a map to find the town (population of 2,000), and we quickly realized that we were headed for adventure.  Luckily, the two of us are always game, so I quit my job, bought some boots, and jumped in his truck (or jeep to be exact).

Lucky us, developers had just started working on some new apartments 45 minutes from his office (the nearest town).  We decided we wanted to move in, but they weren’t going to be ready for a couple months, so we settled into a little house on Omaha Street.
Tomorrow, however, our new apartment is finally ready, and I couldn’t be more excited to move into the new home with my sweethearts.

Jon thanked me this morning for willingly following him from the city to the county, from the house to the apartment.  I responded that I would follow him to the stars, and I reminded him that HE, not an address, will always be my home.
Later today, I found this Rob Ryan print that perfectly expresses how I feel, and so I thought I would post: