Tag Archives: home sweet apartment


29 Jul

This is post is semi-random, to be sure, but I had to share a victory I celebrated today. After literally years of failing to capture an “Amish buggy in my rearview mirror” picture, I did it this morning! I snapped this outside Red Haw, OH just after 8 AM this morning. I was parked at a stop sign. Safety first!


Please also note the new photography device featured in this image… a real digital camera instead of a cell phone cam! Many many thanks to my friends P and A for their generosity.

I’ve been trying to take a photo like this for years now. I think my friends who live in places other than rural Northeast Ohio have a hard time imagining the juxtaposition that one can encounter daily in this area. There is a buggy hitching post at the WalMart in my city. It is not uncommon for traffic to be backed up for a block or two by a slow-moving buggy. In the truly rural areas outside the city where I live, it is the rare store with a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy, because many Amish people do not wear shoes in the summer, and they make up a large portion of the paying customer base. I think the image of a buggy in the rearview mirror does a good job of communicating the ways that cultures can collide and fuse together.

Just for kicks I’ll throw in a couple more things I have captured recently. Fair warning, the next image MAY DISTURB YOU.

This winter, my roommate and I became aware that something small and rodenty was sharing out apartment. We never saw any trace of a mouse in our kitchen; no nibbles taken out of our bags of potatoes or boxes of Lucky Charms in the pantry. No tiny mouse turds anywhere. But there was a hole in the bag of cat food we had stored away in a cupboard connected to the wall of our house. And then I discovered a pile of cat food in my winter sweater box, which had been stored in the attic. This was very disconcerting. I did not like the idea of rodents keeping their food nestled between my cardigans. Yuck. However, because we never actually saw a mouse, and we had no desire to murder a mouse who may have simply been taking shelter from the cold Ohio winter, we decided to just move the cat food to a plastic container and hope that the mouse/mice would return to their outdoor home as spring dawned.

Well, it would appear that our mouse is a bit of ┬áhomebody. He surprised me in the bathroom just days ago, and I barely had the presence of mind to trap him under my roommate’s toothbrush cup.* He was very fast, and I can only thank the good Lord that he was small. If he was a big scary rat thing I don’t think I could have done anything but flee.

I still had no desire to murder this mouse, so I removed him or her to the great outdoors with great haste. But I did take a couple pictures first. For posterity. And to show my roommate’s cat that she should be ashamed of herself for failing to defend our apartment from the scourge of vermin.

Okay, one final “captured” thing. Today I headed to Maurer Farm Market and came away with two pecks of fragrant, beautiful peaches. They were second pickings– fruit with minor blemishes or bruises. Which meant I got them for just $6.50 per peck. since my peaches are about to become jam, pie, and peach butter, the fact that some of them looked gnarly is not an issue.

I only started learning to can and preserve at the end of last summer, so I’m really excited to “put up” more food this year. I think I’m most looking forward to combining the white peaches with some frozen sweet cherries for jam! Jam that will hopefully never be snacked on by a rodent.

Readers, do you like to eat jam? Do you like to make jam? Do you have a vermin scourge plaguing your home? Please feel free to chime in with feedback of any kind.

*Note to all concerned: I have already promised said roommate a new toothbrush cup unmarred by rodent presence.


joy in the small things

19 Jul

I have a lot of big things to be joyful about these days! Between visits with family, welcoming beautiful babies to the world, getting to drive a superfly rental car with working air conditioning, making some new friends at work, and discovering that it’s possible to combine soft-serve ice cream with a slushie (thanks for the tip MN!) there is a lot to be glad about. In case some of my readers are in the place that I was not so long ago, though, I thought I’d share some small things that bring joy to my life.

My apartment is the upper story of a house that is over 110 years old. As a result, it has some unique quirks and charms. My roommate and I both like the idea that so many families have made their home in this cozy, slightly imperfect space. Even in the winter, when our wool sweaters and electric blankets barely protect us from the cold air drafting through the ancient windows, we appreciate the fun of living in a house full of history and character.

I must confess that sometimes I complain about that character, telling my sister how sometimes it seems that the house is just slightly slanted, making it a challenge to tell if something is hung straight on a wall. Or I rant to my coworkers about having to insulate the old double-hung windows with saran wrap during Ohio winters. And almost everytime someone knocks at our door, I apologize to them for the difficulty of welcoming them when the cantankerous old thing (which requires a tutorial to open and close) opens opposite the way the screen door does… and right into a narrow set of stairs.

The truth is that any complaints are pretty insignificant in the big picture, which is that I love this apartment. I love that we live next door to our sweet landlords; I love that they allowed us to paint the place in bright colors when we moved in; I love our neighborhood with its knobbly red brick streets. Here are some of the tiny things that I love, in the hope that you might enjoy them too:

we have charming light fixtures.

...and a laundry chute. we don't use it, because we only rent the top floor. but still. i like laundry chutes. i always wanted one growing up!

the cute "face in a place" doorknob in our bathroom. i guess some people might find it creepy to have a face-like thing staring at you in the lavatory, but it just reminds me of the electric blanket from The Brave Little Toaster, who was definitely not a creeper.

We have several of these old button-style light switches. And I like them.

Which brings us to one of my favorite things about this apartment, the light switch in my bedroom. I can only guess that whoever installed it was not a professional, because they put it in upside down. What does this mean for practical use?

Blinded by the light? Just flick the “no” switch, and darkness will be restored.

A few months ago, I was struggling to remind myself of the little smile-inducing things in my life. While it’s not such a struggle at the moment, I believe daily gratitude to be a worthwhile practice. Even in the valleys of my life, there’s so much to be grateful for and rejoice in. Sometimes I just need to do the work of reminding myself of what I know to be true. Like that opening my eyes to the sweet little things can help bring a more joyful perspective.

budget frame collage

21 Jun

I spent a few days last week rearranging the furniture in my bedroom. Despite the hassle of unpacking and repacking bookcases and the subsequent burn in my pathetic biceps, it’s felt like a real blessing to be able to change things up. My Aunt J swears that no matter how she rearranges furniture, it makes a room feel bigger. I don’t think I’m deluding myself in the thought that a physical change can be symbolic of starting a new chapter. And it’s my hope that this chapter will be better than the previous one. The best is yet to come, and all that.

With a new furniture layout, I found myself taking down all the photos in my room and contemplating new arrangements and walls for them to live on. I also found myself struck anew by the intensity of the pistachio green paint on my bedroom walls; it was definitely one of those “better-on-a-paint-chip-than-saturating-an-entire-room” colors. I thought briefly about repainting, but the thought of moving those bookcases back away from the walls was not enticing. I can live with my pistachio room a while longer.

Rearranging gave me a little more space to work with in terms of wall art, and after hanging my old frames I had a few ideas in mind for that space. I headed out to a favorite local thrift store and spent some time looking for interesting pieces. I didn’t see any awesome Velvet Elvises or creepy owl paintings, so I decided to focus on finding some cool frames.

John and Sherry Petersik, the couple in Richmond who write one of my favorite home improvement/DIY blogs, Young House Love, were my inspiration for the following project. They’ve done a number of frame collages in both their first house and their current one. From early efforts in their guest bedroom to an adorable heart-shaped collage in their daughter’s nursery to their dramatic new hallway with two frame collage walls, I’ve admired this look for being both charming and modern, and a great way to add visual interest. With the caveat that extra visual interest might not be necessary in a pistachio green room, I decided to attempt a frame collage of my own.

I picked up ten frames at the thrift store as well as a fun (bronze) leaf ornament. I was looking for frames that were diverse in size and texture, decently made, and inexpensive. I paid about $13 for my eleven items, which felt like a mission accomplished. Here are the fruits of that labor, laid out on the living room floor. Sorry for the poor image quality, this was taken with my phone.

I knew from what I’d seen on YHL that there are a few ways to tie frame collages together. If the photos and art featured are composed of many different colors, having frames of the same color is helpful to keep the look cohesive (see John and Sherry’s hallway, with all white frames of many sizes and shapes). If you’re using black and white photos, you can probably get away with a rainbow of frames. Given the bold color of the wall I was working with, I decided to paint my frames a neutral gray color. I used inexpensive acrylic paint from Pat Catan‘s, and I actually decided to make my frames range from light to dark gray. I used a combination of lights and darks on the leaf ornament and really liked how that looked. I applied 2 coats of acrylic, and then a coat of Mod Podge in matte finish to act as a sealant. As far as the artwork, I used some photos I had on hand, and I went through some artsy magazines and even pretty cards from friends and family. In the largest frame, I made an attempt at some amateur graphic art.

Here’s the finished product on my wall:

I’m feeling good about the way things came together. I agree with John and Sherry that it’s tempting to keep adding more frames and grow the collage further. Since it’s only been up for a few days, I’m going to enjoy it as is for a while. Maybe if I stumble across a fun creepy owl that I need to add I’ll break out the gray acrylic again and my hammer and nails again!

Total Cost of this project:

10 frames + 1 bronze leaf ornament: $13.20

three bottles acrylic paint (light gray, dark gray, and silver): $4.85

Mod Podge and paintbrushes: already owned.

artwork for frames: free!

Total = $18.05

By painting pre-owned frames instead of purchasing new ones, I definitely saved some dough. I did invest a few hours in the painting process, but I mostly worked on it while watching TV with my roommate. It’s totally unique to me, and I think it adds something sweet to my room. I’m calling this project a win!