The things we love now: be unforgettable

Standard

The guys and I love to surround ourselves with objects that have strong personalities. In our quest to always be inspired we are constantly on the hunt for new objects that push our buttons. Recently we discovered that an artist we admire has made his work available on a variety of items that we use everyday. Items that we love to give as gifts. Nick’s work is colorful, bold and absolutely unforgettable. Just our cup of tea. Here are some of the things we can’t get enough of and where we think you should stick them.

A collection of these pillows will wake up your living space and have your friends chattering about you every time you leave the room. Try tossing them on a Victorian inspired fainting sofa and watch the sparks fly.

IMG_1474.PNG

http://society6.com/product/fizzox_pillow#25=193&18=126

IMG_1473.PNG

http://society6.com/product/snow-white-girl_pillow#25=193&18=126

IMG_1475.PNG

http://www.amazon.com/Skyline-Furniture-Tufted-Fainting-Aubergine/dp/B005VY987Q/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1418420127&sr=8-5&keywords=Victorian+chair

Anchor your space with an eye popping pattern that is sure to develop a cult following. We are flipping out over Nick’s recreation of the carpet pattern used in the set decoration for the Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film based on Stephen King’s book The Shining.

IMG_1478-0.PNG

Let’s imagine these shower curtains framing our dining room windows, shall we? Yes indeed we shall. With a few minor alterations these durable curtains can be ready for life outside of the bathroom. A quick trip through the sewing machine can make these ready for your choice of curtain rod.
Nick’s take on the traditional floral pattern is the perfect solution when you are looking to stray from ordinary. If you really want to shake things up a bit. Sit down to an evening meal surrounded by hungry wolves. Those wolves have our mouths watering and would be the talk of any dinner party.

IMG_1476.PNG

http://society6.com/product/floral-garen_shower-curtain#35=287

IMG_1477.PNG
http://society6.com/product/run-wolf-run_shower-curtain#35=287

Don’t keep it all to yourself, art is best when shared with people you love, so Give Art! Useful gifts are always appreciated but don’t make them mundane. If you are gifting someone a coffee mug, you better make it stand out in the crowd. Simple thoughtful gifts don’t have to be ordinary. Here are a few things we love that kick ass and are sure to be used everyday.

This Clint Eastwood tote bag will turn heads when you whip it out at the grocery store. When they ask if you want paper or plastic.. Tell them that you want it dirty and Harry.

IMG_1479.PNG

It is inevitable that someone at the office will try to pretend that your I heart Atlantic City mug is theirs. Don’t give anyone the chance to claim what is yours. Make your go to coffee cup extraordinary, just like you. Pick a mug that says Good Morning, don’t talk to me until this mug is empty. This should do the trick.

IMG_1480.PNG

Want to buy some of the things we love?
You can find these things and more here

You can also get your fix and find more about the artist over on his facebook page.

The fainting sofa pictured above is available from our friends over at Amazon

Advertisements

If you love me, you will take these turnips.

Standard

I spent the late afternoon yesterday digging and planting. This year we have decided to add to the landscaping in the front of our shop. We are adding some shrubbery that will remain green all winter. The current inhabitants of the front yard all drop their leaves in winter. A bunch of naked branches doesn’t exactly scream welcome. So in an attempt to keep color going all year we are tackling an overhaul. The guys and I decided to incorporate edible plants into our landscaping this year. We do our best to help the environment and thought why not take advantage of the fact that we have to water the yard all summer anyway.
We have amassed a tiny collection of seeds to plant. We will have green beans and tomatoes growing along side boxwoods and spirea. I put sunflowers in the ground yesterday. I have to say it felt a little naughty tucking them in behind the formal plantings that wrap our front porch. The idea that their sunny faces would soon tower over their more traditional bed mates would frighten more timid gardeners. It just isn’t respectable to have such flamboyance scattered about willy nilly where everyone can see.
This year our efforts to keep newly planted shrubs alive in the frustratingly hot and humid Illinois summer will also be putting fresh food on our table. I think that is just sexy as hell. If I have to be bent over out there pulling weeds from between the bushes, then I am going to pick peas while I’m doing it! I slipped some beautiful tricolor sage with purple, white and silver leaves into the pots out front that held boxwoods all winter. Tyler and I found the most amazing oregano again this year. It has the brightest lime green and yellow leaves. I love the way it flows over the edge of pots, so we thought, why not put it out there where everyone can enjoy it instead of hiding it somewhere out back.
In a few days we will tuck some heirloom tomatoes into the ground. I can’t wait to make fresh salsa. There is nothing like the taste of the triumph of growing your own food.
Lettuce will go in soon. Don’t spend anytime imagining that it will grow in neat little rows. That Mr. McGregor stuff doesn’t fly around our house. We will plant it in sunny spots between the established prairie plants out back. There are a few open spaces that the bee balm vacated last summer. It will fit in nicely there. I love the colors leaf lettuce comes in. The bright greens and deep burgundy and purples. Mouth is officially watering. The little rabbit that has claimed our back yard for her own will be in heaven. Our dogs have already given up trying to chase her from the neighborhood. I let them out one morning last week and they began their usual Tom and Jerry chase sequence. This time however that little bunny stood her ground. She didn’t even flinch. Just looked up from nibbling the clover and sort of stared the dogs down. They were baffled. Truly disappointed. They haven’t messed with her since. I wouldn’t either. I have seen it in her eyes, she means business. She will of course have first dibs on the lettuce, I will gladly feast on her leftovers.
I would kill for a fruit tree. I think I have the perfect spot for a little apple tree. I would love a cherry tree, but around here that means sharing your harvest with flocks of hungry birds. I picture myself forced into playing the part of Tippi Hedren. Running about in the yard swatting at ferocious swarms of angry starlings as they peck at my eyeballs. In fact if a cherry tree went in I would spend my summers being suspicious of any birds that were congregating in groups of three or more. God forbid a murder of crows land on the deck. I would pee my pants before curling up in the fetal position and dying of fright. Alfred Hitchcock, you were a bad bad man. Twisted sick and I love you for it. No cherry tree for me. My imagination is way to over active.
Summer is here and I am celebrating every minute of it. I was born a man of the sun . I crave the warmth. Vitamin D. Fresh air. I get lost in that color of blue the sky turns in summer. The way the green leaves stand out against the clouds. The weeks ahead will be filled with much mulch flinging and muddy flip flops. Sunny afternoons and dirty fingernails. Nothing compares to the tired you feel after spending the day outside working in the yard.
Hopefully this year with a little extra effort we can coax a meal or two out of the dirt…. if Mother Nature cooperates. Some groups throughout history have been known to prepare a sacrifice to ensure the soils fertility. I think I will shy away from tradition this year and just light my incense and pour a beer or two on my newly planted green beans.
When my sunflowers bloom I will feel like the luckiest man on the planet. A proud papa. I’m looking forward to having way tooooo many tomatoes. The living is easy. It doesn’t get any better than the joy a person feels when you have to force home grown fresh produce onto unwilling recipients. That watery eyed look of terror on a persons face when you hand them a bag stuffed to the brim with turnips or a box the size of a minivan bursting at the seams with the zucchini you picked that morning. Ahhhh abundance.

20140504-193146.jpg

How to open an orange using a screw driver.

Standard

Our apartment is almost finished. It took a lot of guts, a ton of energy and a great amount of bargaining with a bevy of the lesser known voodoo loas. It’s been quite a ride. We have been living in a state of transition since what feels like the beginning of time. By transition I mean complete and utter chaos. Living through a renovation is challenging enough, living in the space while you are renovating it,,,pure and absolute madness. When we decided to open the store we also committed to transforming the second floor of the house into a large apartment. The house had been apartments before in a past life. Like most old houses this one has been many things to many people. Each owner has put their own stamp on the place. From an almost abandoned state it was turned into an Inn by a lovely lady that rescued the house from certain death by wrecking ball. I am very grateful for her courage. The house is certainly grateful as well.
The second floor is a series of spacious rooms with huge windows that put you right in the center of the sugar maples that surround the house. In the summer the rooms turn green with light filtered through the foliage. When fall descends on the Midwest the light streaming through the windows turns brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange. Being up there is like staying in a tree house. A very well equipped tree house.
This renovation has played out like a giant game of Tetris. Each piece moving to allow room for the next. Then the pieces and piles of our accumulated lives are picked up and moved again to facilitate another step in the process. Painful. I will now think of any home improvement project as if I were an expectant mother elephant. I will remember that those glossy pictures in decorating magazines are only the beginning. At some point that baby elephant has to come out. That’s what living through a remodel is like. Pushing a mini van out of your who-ha. A special kind of endurance is required. Through it all this project has only resulted in one slightly serious argument brought on by wonky ancient walls that we’re never square or level. It was less of an argument and more me coaxing the guys back from the brink of insanity as they tried to install kitchen cabinets in a room that leans ever so slightly to the left.
The other moment of heated discussion was the guys talking me down from the slippery ledge of unreasonable behavior as we tackled the bathroom redo. At the last moment I decided the old claw foot tub needed desperately to live on the other side of the room. I vaguely remember saying things like ” my happiness depends on it.” and ” if you really loved me.” A truce was signed and the tub remains exactly where it was. The perfect place for it in my opinion. I’m so glad I didn’t let them move it. What a horrible idea.
Anyone who has ever moved knows that living out of boxes sucks. Plain and simple it’s the worst. When everything you own is not only boxed up but those boxes have been shuffled and reshuffled stacked and shifted countless times, you reach a point where you honestly believe you will never again locate any object smaller than a chair or a lamp. Those are piled high in every corner. The remote control… now permanently resides in another dimension. I have to pull out a Ouija Board every time I want to surf through the channels. We have eaten out of paper bags and off of disposable dishes for months. This morning after working out I climbed the steps to the nearly finished space. I stood in the kitchen and admired all of the new surfaces. The fresh paint. Each direction I looked brought a sense of accomplishment one can only find near the end of a long and exhausting adventure. The pieces are coming together. I was actually about to have a meal in the new kitchen. Just an orange. Simple sure, but remarkable absolutely remarkable. I had given up the idea of eating in comfort. The months of doing without a traditional kitchen set up have brought out our primal instincts. We have been inches from reverting to our cave dwelling raw meat eating ancestors. So standing at the counter with a softball sized orange I just plucked from a fully functioning refrigerator that happens to actually be located in our living space…. Triumph. I almost didn’t notice that the months of living with the constant lack of utensils has changed me. My survival skills have surfaced. Now when faced with a challenge even as small as making the first cut in the skin of an orange so it can be peeled. Instinctively, without even processing it, I go for any object within reach that will serve the purpose. I just cut into my breakfast using a screwdriver.

20140321-161420.jpg

Small towns are like little islands…

Standard

I’m from a small town. Let me rephrase that. I am from just outside of a small town. I grew up on a farm about a mile out of a town of around 5,000 people. Before you give me the ” that isn’t a small town” speech, save it. John is from a town of about 30 people so I’ve heard it all before. I remember when my town got its first stop light. It was a very big deal. I don’t remember but I’m sure there was some sort of parade or ribbon cutting or something to commemorate the event. At least in my mind that would have been appropriate given the importance of the day. I’ve moved around and one event led to the other bringing me here. For the uninitiated living in a small town can be a total and complete shock to the system. Every morning you can find yourself praying to the gods to drop a Starbucks on the corner. Any corner. Addictions can be a serious thing.
The challenge of living on a remote island isn’t about coping with missing the conveniences available on the main land. It’s about learning to appreciate the things that are available all around you. That same philosophy translates into living in a small community. You have the opportunity to tap into natural hunting and gathering instincts. Explore and discover. That’s how I look at it anyway.
Yesterday I spent some time chatting with another business owner about encouraging visitors to explore what our town has to offer. We are considering putting together a little book that has a map of our favorite things that are available nearby. My conversation with Cathrine made me start thinking of all of the things that I like about where I live. So as an experiment last night I got cozy and poured myself a glass of my favorite wine. My dear friends own an outstanding winery just 20 minutes from my front door. Through the country between cornfields and over the lake you can find a bottle of Harvest Red at Willow Ridge Winery . Just incase you were wondering, it would be the perfect gift for me any time you are feeling like buying me a gift. My birthday is coming up after all.
A glass of wine down the hatch and my list of favorite things grew and grew.
So here are some of the things I love. If you’re visiting and wander into any of these places you will soon find that I’ve picked some of them for what they offer. Some of them because of what they offer and the people that make them happen. The best part of living on a little island in the middle of Illinois can be getting to know the people.
Top of my list and with absolutely no question, the number one reason people visit Sullivan Illinois. The Little Theatre on the Square . The Little Theatre is a not for profit organization that produces killer musicals and offers a ton of classes from dance to acting. The talent that graces the stage or works behind the scenes often finds it’s way to Broadway or has already worked There!
I love to shop at junk shops and thrift stores. Sorting through people’s cast offs can provide a ton of inspiration. Digging for a deal can be exhilarating, finding a good deal can be euphoric. Try satisfying your junking urges or your vintage clothes obsession at Thrifty Boutique, you can see it from the Theatre’s front door. I found a Burberry jacket there for $1.00. Yup that is one whole dollar bill.
I adore to visit My Garden Greenhouses . Being there always calms my nerves. It’s like a little oasis. Chances are you will bump into the owner with her arms, elbow deep digging in the dirt. She loves what she does and it shows.
I crave being at Tabor park. You will find it tucked away on North Worth Street. It’s a jewel. Miles of easy trails through prairie and woods across bridges and over streams. I like to walk there to feel close to nature. The little grove of Hedge Apple trees is like a scene from a movie. I can imagine Snow White herself gathering firewood in the little clearing. Magical.
The food at Los Potros on the west side of the square is always perfect, fast and cheap. The wait staff means business and speeds your order to you always with a friendly smile. If you’re not a total light weight try to conquer the Jumbo Margarita. It’s like a punch in the face with a whole lot of happy.
A few doors down you’ll find China King. The owner fills orders minds the counter and helps her kids with their homework simultaneously. You won’t find fancy here. It’s just honest and real, I can’t help but love that. The Crab Rangoon are beyond bliss. The little pockets of cream cheese and crab filled crispy wonton might as well be crack. I get two meals out of the Chicken Curry with Angel Hair rice noodles. Ok, so I usually eat it all for one meal, but I would like to think if I had will power it would make lovely leftovers.
The guys and I always look dapper after a visit to Split Ends 10 West Harrison. It’s the kind of place where the owner makes you feel at home the minute you step in the door. Her family has rescued the building giving it a remarkable new life, you walk in off the street and go, wait a minute, this isn’t small town.
On the same block you will find Nite Al’s. This pub is owned buy the nicest people. You can often find them tending bar. It has a great vibe. They keep the place incredibly clean and when you belly up to the bar you can always count on the friendliest service. You can kick back with a beer after a long day. Or make it a night out. I recommend trying an apple pie shot. Or three.
If you’re in the mood for a soft serve treat or want to indulge in a kick ass burger that will melt in your mouth…. Head over to Dairy Delites. You will find it on West Jackson. They have a huge mushroom house out front with a giant pig peeking out of the window… Seriously a kick ass burger.
If you make a trip over here Don’t forget to stop in at Cathrine’s at 7 west Jefferson. She is right off of the square and has a great gallery, sip a glass of wine and buy a box of locally made chocolates.
… And if you do find yourself in my part of the cornfield.. Stop in and see us at the shop. We would be glad to see you! All of the most extraordinary people shop here. Come and check it out.

20140314-153013.jpg

20140314-153023.jpg

20140314-153042.jpg

20140314-153053.jpg

20140314-153059.jpg

20140314-153112.jpg

20140314-153126.jpg

20140314-153135.jpg

20140314-153314.jpg

20140314-153320.jpg