The things we love now … Dreaming of a midsummers night


Doing research for some posts I decided to see if it was possible to get everything a person needed for a vacation home on Ebay including the home itself.
Some people fall in love at first site, the same can sometimes be said about a house. Some houses call out to their future owners like beckoning lovers. Come here they whisper, love me.
I decided to choose from the homes available on Ebay with no concern for the location. Hey, we are dreaming here after all. In dreams location doesn’t matter only emotion.
I picked a house because of a feeling. Because I liked what I saw.
The house I selected for this experiment looks like the perfect place to hide away and spend a summer entertaining friends and family. With the unlimited budget of pure imagination I set to work trying to assemble the perfect getaway.

Here is where we found our cottage by the lake.
The first thing I see missing from the picture is a boat, summers by the lake mean canoe races or having someone paddle you around while you sip lemonade and read poetry under a parasol. What ever your into, we won’t judge.

Get your fix for vintage boats here

We love the look of these vintage metal motel chairs and picture a line of them along the lake. You can relax with a tall glass of iced tea and make absolutely no plans at all.

You must have a fire pit handy when the nights get chilly or you can’t live another minute without a s’more.


We liked the simple clean lines of this fire pit.

For the porch, cozy furniture is the best choice to encourage long conversations over a bottle or two of wine. We love a modern take on traditional wicker, and this set comes in a bright teal that will make snuggling up and listening to the frogs memorable even on the dreariest of days.

This porch swing will be a family favorite for sure. We love the idea of hanging two of them on the side porch that faces the water. This is the sort of swing that forces you to take a nap every afternoon.



Scatter a few of these rugs to keep things from becoming to ordinary. The pattern hints at the traditional Native American textiles that are associated with summer camps with a fresh twist.
The living room fireplace can be a place to gather for a mug of hot cocoa before heading off to bed. We found this antique mantel that would look perfect.


For a new take on the classic duck decoy we found several of these aluminum decoy molds, displaying a few of them in the living room nods to the lakes resident ducks without being predictable.

We fell in love with these

Never under estimate the potential for an endless parade of overnight guests. Adding a few daybeds into the plan will make quick work of accommodating last minute tag alongs. They are comforting, cozy and easy.

2015/01/img_1739.jpg we found ours here


For a coffee table we consider this one to be a great choice


A few easy to move side chairs will make adapting the living room to last minute arrivals a breeze. We liked these for the bold colors and the woven texture.


To anchor the room we wanted to stay away from traditional so we found this rug and thought it would do the trick.


A lakeside retreat wouldn’t be complete without a furniturepiece or two made from branches


We are smitten with these simple light fixtures and think scattering them across the living room ceiling and hooking them to a dimmer would bring the night sky inside.


For the dining room we want these.

We are picturing them hanging over this salvaged wood table


We see it surrounded by company sitting pretty in these.

We want to honor the mantel we picked for the living room and echo it’s lines but step it up several notches in the dining room with this buffet


The master bedroom will be a welcome retreat from the rigorous activities associated with vacationing. We want to pick pieces that make us feel like we are in the country but not be cute or precious. We love the look of this quilt
We see it folded across the end of this four poster bed.

We want this pair of table lampsto give us plenty of light to read by.

The lamps would look lovely on these trunks turned side tables.


Stocking the bath with plenty of towels is a must do. We like the look and feel of traditional turkish towels. They look great and dry quickly which comes in handy if you are boycotting laundry duty.

Roll them up and stash them in plain site where guests can grab them on the way to the pool under this vanity.
Speaking of the pool… This house comes with an above ground pool that would be replaced with something more like this.

The shape will look fresh surrounded with simple unassuming decking. We would skip the slide and add a few of these.

With a couple of these.

When we aren’t feeding the ducks or swimming in the pool an occasional trip to town for supplies in this would make fetching groceries or hauling firewood a pleasure.

We even like the name painted on the door.

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We would love to hear from you and what you think we should do for our next The things we love now post. Loft apartment? Refurbished barn? Converted garage? Let us know!


The things we love now: be unforgettable


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.




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.


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.



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.


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.


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

Let one ripple sing for me.


Today Tyler and I took a day off from the store and went on an adventure. We took some new friends to one of my absolute favorite places on the planet. An antique shop situated between the highway and a Dairy Queen in St. Joseph Illinois. Winter Wheat Antiques has been a part of my life for close to twenty years. I would even dare to say the contents of those unassuming buildings have fueled my imagination since the first time I stepped through the doors and probably caused some of my more attractive quirks and eccentricities to surface and be celebrated. Some of my most prized possessions have once hung on the walls or occupied shelves here. It’s easy to get lost in time among precious heirlooms and stacks of books while being stared at by a tiny stuffed elephant with button eyes and his companion a monkey that at first glance appears to have once actually swung from vines in some remote jungle. On closer inspection the painted features and delicate time worn fabric reveal the monkeys true identity, a well loved very realistic children’s toy.
This paradise captures my love of juxtaposition. Today I sat in a chair built around 300 years ago its sturdy arms proudly showing the wear of countless hands that have caressed its gentle curves while surrounded by Christmas ornaments from the 1950’s.
I must admit I am equally in awe of both. Rendered breathless by the thought of the owners that this chair has outlived while mesmerized by the glitter clinging to the snow capped rooftops of miniature houses built to prepare mantles for the arrival of St Nick. It doesn’t stop there, standing in an isle filled with delicate China and precious dishes no doubt handed down through generations and fought over by squabbling sisters before their mother’s death bed has even grown cold, I spy a tall vessel atop a cupboard that has been filled with aboriginal arrows carefully bundled and labeled. The chaos is kept at bay by careful and deliberate organization. I live in a world where random things are treated with great respect as long as the madness is neatly organized. I thrill at opening a drawer and finding it filled to the brim with blown glass ornaments from World War Two each nestled among its kin, each sporting a hand written tag tied on with thread. Pure bliss. Ceramic statues of sleepy looking saints may share the company of chalk ware dogs in hats carried home from depression era carnivals but they must remain on their own shelves. Each object your eye falls on in this kaleidoscope of color and texture is a time machine. I learned as a child accompanying my father to antique auctions that the things we create are destined to out live us. This is very clear at Winter Wheat. The things that crowd around you are not clutter. They are memories. Each whispering for attention. Recognition. Most hold great value more in sentiment than in the worth of the materials that they are constructed from. You will not encounter boxes clad in gold and rare gems. You are more likely to find a box stuffed with twenty sock monkeys. Each one different. Each one reflecting the child it was made for and the person who made it. That’s what these things are to me. Memories. Proof that people are capable of truly extraordinary acts of love, like making a sock monkey or keeping a shoe box filled with letters from a lover who’s words caused you to read and reread them so many times the envelopes are tattered from your touch.
In this place you are not surrounded by things but objects. Belongings.
I have spent hours impossible to calculate bent toward boxes of old photographs here. One of my passions. Tiny time capsules. Fragile but potent. Photographs carry the weight of human history. They summon up the reality that our world has been shaped by many individuals whose names you will not read in the history books passed out in high schools. I rummage through history. Not imagined history but history in vivid truth. Weather studio portraits of siblings in their Sunday best posed for posterity wearing button shoes or candid shots of a picnic where blankets are spread out near a model T. These are windows into a real world. Echoes of real people. The people who truly built the world we live in today. I love looking at these faces and knowing that this group of women fought for their right to vote or that these workers were the ones that paid for the railway they are standing near with sweat and determination. Knowing that the couple standing on their front porch holding a newborn would see the dawning of the civil rights movement. That is real history…. And some of them are just strange as hell. I mean come on, two old ladies from a hundred years ago standing on a porch holding up a chair with a white cat perched in it. What the hell? That one is coming home with me. I only buy the ones that speak to me and I never know what that is going to be.
Today Tyler and I were caught off guard by three autograph albums. We joked before we opened them about the famous signatures we would discover inside. Instead we found beautifully hand written notes of encouragement to friends moving away or pieces of poems penned in 1893 to the host of a New Year’s Eve party. To say I was moved wouldn’t even come close. I was transported. To a time when friends spoke of the love for one another in words that suggested that their friendship would endure any hardship including time itself. One sentiment has stuck with me all day. ” in the river of your memory let one ripple sing for me.”
Beautiful. Priceless.
As I left today the amazing woman who owns and curates this collection met me out in the sun with a gift. She presented me with something I will treasure always. An album covered in soft leather the embossed flowers barely visible. This book contained a handful of remarkable photos and enough blank pages to inspire more collecting. As I looked over the album again this evening I noticed that several of the pictures were of a lazy river. “In the river of your memory let one ripple sing for me.”

Today was an adventure, a red van with a handsome man and a couple of feisty gypsy women. A good burger, an even better beer and of course I can’t forget about the time traveling.
A good day indeed.





If you love me, you will take these turnips.


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.


Lavender is for Ladies and Why I can’t sleep after watching The Walking Dead.


Zombies. Seriously the worst possible thing to watch before bed… But I can’t help myself. I feel like a kid again hiding my eyes and plugging my ears when I know something horrible is going to happen to the unsuspecting actor on the TV. Danger!! It’s right behind you!!!!
I always think to myself.. ” you will never get to sleep tonight.” And ” don’t watch this before bed.” and I am always right. Why is it so hard to take our own advice? Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like a good scare, I might as well sit down to a case of Mountain Dew and a fist full of pixie stix. But I’m addicted to The Dead and it’s on the DVR and I can’t help it that I’m a busy man and the only TV time I have is late at night. These are all terrible excuses. The truth is, I love scary. Plain and simple. Don’t judge me. It’s a sickness. I have trouble sleeping anyway. It’s hereditary. When the world gets quiet and dark, my mind starts going a million miles a minute. I never touch caffeine and try to refrain from hitting the build your own spicy nacho bar that seems to be available 24/7 in our house. Sometime even with the closest attention to the details, sleep doesn’t find me. I can see it drifting in and out of the shadows of my bedroom but it never settles over me when I need it. So I did my research. At three AM of course. The internet is brimming with tips on helping you sleep. The web is crawling with info on sleeping pills. I like to take a more holistic approach to life so popping pills to get a few z’s while tempting, seemed a bit easy. So I walked on being bombarded by ads for sleeping pills and the occasional suggestion from friends that I climb into bed with Jack Daniels every night. So what’s next? Nature maybe? Sure, I am a gambler so why not. Simple is always better. It doesn’t take much effort to find information about herbs that help with sleeplessness. I tried them all. My favorite is lavender. Shush, don’t give me the my grandma smells like lavender speech. I don’t care to hear it. Plus I’ve met your grandma, she smells more like White Diamonds and gin than lavender, just sayin. Ok, lavender.. I did my home work, read all of the blogs the books and fell in love the moment I used it. Peace and quiet. That’s what it smells like to me. I’m sure that a small percentage of the benefits it offers come directly from the state of mind I allow myself to achieve while misting my pillow or climbing into a bubble bath of the brew. Calm. That’s where it takes me. I feel my muscles relax. My mind slows to a crawl and it overtakes me. Calm. Such a wonderful feeling.
It has a rich history. Simple things often do. The Egyptians treasured its oils and used it for its medicinal benefits. They even used it in their mummification process. If it’s good enough to send Cleopatra off into eternity, it’s good enough to help me drift into dreamland.
The people of Greece adored it and rubbed it everywhere, they steeped in it and passed on their love of the stuff to the Romans. Just imagine, a giant steaming hot ancient Roman pool filled with lavender oils. Imagine slipping down in the hot water through little floating islands of purple buds. Then picture just about every person you ever met splashing around in there with you. Might be kind of scary if you think about it so don’t dwell. Those Romans sure knew how to throw a party. History didn’t reserve this little sensory treat for the naked frolicking masses of tanned Roman Gods. The human love affair with our little purple friend persisted. Time moved on and lavender found its way into Victorian England. It’s no wonder really, images flash of wealthy women crammed into corsets stepping over open sewers to climb into their carriages while mashing bundles of scented herbs up against their noses to avoid the stench. Classy.
Her Majesty Queen Victoria favored the dainty herb. She even appointed a royal purveyor to keep her in a constant supply. The floors and furniture in her castles were washed with water laced with the oils. Full stems were strewn on stone floors to be crushed under foot releasing sweet fragrance into the air. I’m sure Her Royal Highness even dabbed a tad behind her ears before allowing her lover John Brown to nibble at her neck. image
Well, it’s late and my eyelids are getting heavy. My bath tub is brimming with towers of bubbles and my pillow has been misted. I have even left the TV off for a change. Rick and the gang will have to fight the undead without me tonight. Who knows maybe I will not dream of zombies tonight and have Andrew Lincoln dreams instead. Those would be sweet dreams indeed.

Photo of Andrew Lincoln courtesy of AMC’s The Walking Dead
Check out their site to become a fan and lose sleep on Sunday nights like the rest of the country. No wonder everyone is so cranky on Mondays.