A Scary Night and My New Emergency Backpack

A Scary Night and My New Emergency Backpack

So in a very dark irony to this recent post title about updating my electrical at Berrybrier, my neighbor’s house caught on fire in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. We still don’t know the cause of the fire, but it was an extremely terrifying experience and definitely had some lingering effects on me…

I’d gone to bed around 10pm that night and fell asleep quickly as after work, I’d spent all evening cutting beadboard for my master bathroom in the driveway. Around 1:30am I rolled over in my sleep and gained just enough consciousness to realize it was raining. The raindrops were relatively persistent. This actually made me wake up even more as I’d left some beadboard in the driveway and the rain could seriously ruin the MDF. Ugh! I was annoyed at myself for not putting it away like I knew I should have, but it wasn’t actually supposed to rain! These thoughts of frustration woke me up further and I could tell through closed eyes that the room was pretty light out so it must be morning. At the same time I realized the sound I was hearing wasn’t quite raindrops. I opened my eyes.

My entire room was lit up red orange. I thought the wood I left in the driveway had caught fire and then caught my house or the garage. I didn’t know how that was possible, but it was my first thought. As i bounded over the pile of tools I’d left next to my bed, I could hear movement above me, which meant Jackie my roommate was awake too. By the time I’d clambered over my bed and over the pile of tools, grabbing some PJ pants and a bathrobe, I could see properly out my bedroom window that it wasn’t my house at all, but the neighbor’s house kitty corner behind us. And the flames were already 30 feet high.

I sprinted out of my room throwing on clothes along the way and shouted “Jackie!” She responded immediately, “I know! I’m on the phone with 911, I’ll get Bronwyn!” I was grabbing shoes at that point and ran for the backdoor, “Good! I bet someone’s already done that! I’m getting the hose!” Jackie knew better, her conversation describing the fire and location of it with the 911 operator wasn’t going well. “I don’t know what the street name is! It’s the street behind ours! If you come to us you’ll see the fire!” “Your location information isn’t helpful.” “I know! But that’s all I’ve got!”

Meanwhile I grabbed the hose from the front yard and sprinted through the brambles in my backyard to the far corner. The house from my perspective was hidden by 30 foot flames which were sneaking around the corner of the house towards a shed which was next to the fence line that backed on to my neighbor Erik’s property which also had a shed: squished on to the 12′ of space between the fence line and his garage full of 12 years of wood he’s collected from job sites. Erik and I shared a fence and that fence continued along the side of my garage. As I sprayed the corner of the fence line, I hoped my soaking would delay the violent, crackling flames by seconds, maybe a minute. I knew that if the fire continued to lick the side of their house and caught their shed, the whole fence line could go up, catching an exponential number of other things on fire.

As I soaked the corner of the fences, Jackie grabbed Bronwyn from her room and they both ran out of the house. Jackie grabbed some water bottles, asked Bronwyn to check on me, and walked briskly around the corner to the street behind ours. It wasn’t until Bronwyn was out of the house that she knew what was going on. The thirty foot flames were obvious from the front steps, whereas her street facing window hadn’t provided any context to the house behind ours. Jackie reached the neighbor’s street and thankfully they were all out of the house!

Bronwyn came to make sure I was a safe distance from the fire (which I was). Then she headed to Erik’s house which he rents to three young people, one of whom is our second cousin. No one appeared to be awake and if the fire caught the shed and fence line, Erik’s house wouldn’t be around for long. She pounded on their door, but no one answered. She quickly realized the front door was actually unlocked. She ran inside and up the stairs to pound on the bedroom doors, but still got no answer. Finally she screamed out our cousin’s name, “Carla!” And the three housemates woke up and realized someone wasn’t just messing around. Bronwyn got them all out of the house and that’s when the fire department arrived.

The fire department simultaneously arrived on both the street of our neighbor’s house and our street. Jackie met the first firefighter on the neighbor’s street and let him know the family was out of the house. They sent several fire fighters through the front gate to assess the fire. I was standing holding my hose by the fence when the first firefighters came through the neighbor’s yard. One of them yelled “Holy F***! That’s hot!” which was not exactly reassuring. The firefighters on our street thought the fire was at Erik’s house and started unloading ladders. Bronwyn was coming out of Erik’s house at this point and directed them to the 30 foot flames behind Erik’s house. They asked her to open his gate (she knew the padlock code) and she led them (and their hoses) around Erik’s house to the backyard where they sawzall’ed down the back fence between Erik’s property and our neighbor’s and opened up streams of water on the fire.

They arrived as the flames began licking at the shed and quickly forced the fire back. I turned off my hose and walked back to our house where I ran into Jackie who told me the neighbors were all safe. Thank goodness! There were four firetrucks on our street at this point and the firefighters directed the kids who live in Erik’s house to stand in front of our house as “people who are standing in front of their houses when they catch fire have a tendency to go back inside to get something.” They also told us to get any pets out of our house and to wait outside.

The firefighters arrived within 3-5 minutes of Jackie’s 1:38am call with seven total firetrucks and at least 30 firefighters. They had the fire under control within minutes of arriving, though it took them several hours to get out all embers and call it a night. I was extremely impressed by their response time and quick action against the fire. We were able to return to our house around 3:30am and Jackie, Carla, Bronwyn, and I sat upstairs in Jackie’s bed watching the firefighters walk the neighbors property, roofline, and house checking for hidden embers. We were completely hyped up on adrenaline. By 4:30am though, we called it a night and set up a bed for Carla on our living room sofa. We just wanted to all be together. The firefighters finished their work around the house by about 5am and most of the firefighters left before that.

The devastation of the house is obviously apparent, but more importantly, no one was hurt in the fire. The experience is one I hope to never go through again and I cannot even imagine what the family underwent. Thanks to a recent permit finalizing of the dormer, I had freshly installed carbon monoxide and smoke detectors throughout all three levels of Berrybrier. I feel good about that and I know the house is a lot safer now that the electrical is updated. I learned later that you typically only have 2 minutes to evacuate in house fires since homes are so flammable. This makes me want to run fire drills!

But, I wanted something else, something I could grab in an emergency when the fire department tells me to grab my pets and clear my house.  I know I should also put together a supply of emergency water in the basement soon too (we have plenty of food that could be eaten in an emergency) in case of an earthquake type emergency. My 13 years of girl scouting has taught me to be prepared if nothing else! My friend Claudia had an emergency backpack in college and I decided to make my own.

This is a just in case backpack, I hope to never need to grab. Ironically I’d donated an extra backpack I had lying around a few days before the fire, so I ended up buying a new backpack at the Columbia Employee Store. This one has a much larger capacity though, so that’s probably worth the $25. Online, they don’t have the moss + red colorway I bought and it costs a bit more that I paid, but it’s a great 25L bag! Inside the backpack I placed supplies in three categories: personal supplies, first aid, important documents, survival goods.

Here’s broken down lists of what I included as well!

Personal Supplies:

  • Shirt
  • Leggings
  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sandals
  • Sweatshirt
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Contact Solution and Case
  • Bar of Soap

First Aid:

  • Antibacterial / Itch / Pain Ointment
  • Bandaides
  • Roll of Gauze
  • Ibuprofen
  • Ace Bandage

Important Documents:

  • Printed PDF copies of my important / identification documents

Survival Goods:

  • Protein Bars
  • Two 2 Liter Bottles of Water
  • Matches
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Fleece Blanket

Can you believe I managed to squeeze that all into a $25 backpack? I was impressed too! Now this bag lives where I can easily grab it while running out of the house and gives me a bit more peace of mind. What’s been your experience with emergency situations? Did it encourage you to get more prepared?

Have you ever had a run in with a fire? Or know someone who’s house caught? What was the cause? What did you do to make yourself feel better about it afterwards? Did you put together an emergency plan? Am I overthinking this?! Let me know in the comments below!

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Entryway Action

Entryway Action

I have a goal and a plan and I’m ready for action! This is the final push to get the entry whipped into shape! I have a Galentine’s Day Party planned for all the ladies in my life the weekend of the 11th. My goal is to finally complete the entry way so I can decorate it up for the party! I have some cute heart ornaments that just need a place to be hung.

So, why is it the final push? Because I’ve been secretly working on this for months, slowly chipping away at the mess that this area was when we moved in! If you recall, it looked like this to start:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

And when you first opened the front door you looked in at this:

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Whew! What a hot mess it was when we arrived! The entry’s one redeeming feature (besides the coat closet) is the little nook right next to the door. This is a great place for us to stash all our shoes and jackets when we first come home. Of course… is started out as a whole lot of nothing!

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Well, nothing, but an electrical panel, a light switch, and a heating vent. Lot’s of mechanical stuff going on in this spot! You may remember my original plan for this area. It included the following items, some of which are now complete:

  • Get seating for putting on/taking off shoes
  • console or buffet for mail/purses
  • Hang art/mirror and accessorize
  • Paint back wall to hide electrical box better?
  • Organize closet
  • Shoe storage!

Since October – when I came up with this plan of attack – I’ve been slowly getting ‘er done! First I got to work hanging a big old heavy mirror I got for free from work several years ago when it was delivered with a hefty scratch. I bought this 50 lb drywall anchor set from Home Depot for a few beans.

Hanging a Heavy Mirror | Land of Laurel

Once I marked my location (I was hanging the mirror high with the plan to eventually put a console table beneath it), hanging the mirror was really easy. I simply tapped the plastic anchor in with a nail first, then screwed it the remainder of the way into the wall.

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The two other pieces in the kit – a screw and a picture holder, fit into one another, and were then screwed into the plastic piece. Easy as pie.

50 lb Drywall Anchor | Land of Laurel

You know what was not easy? Lifting the heavy mirror up and hooking the wire onto the picture hook. Boy! That mirror was heavy! I enlisted the assistance of both my parents who happened to be visiting that weekend. By the time we hung the mirror, I’d also bought an ottoman! It was an impulse buy one morning on the bus. I only semi-regretted it after. And by semi-regretted I mean I realized it was definitely not my favorite option, but it was cheap. I looked it up to link to it in this post and found out it’s now available in cream! Ugh. Cream would have been a great option. Instead I ended up with the cherry red. When I bought it, the ottoman was only available in red or black leather. I have an intense dislike of black leather furniture unless it’s on task chairs, so I went with the red option. I may reupholster it with some extra fabric I got for free from work. We’ll see… For now, let’s concentrate on the positives of this ottoman. A) I got it for a heavily discounted price. B) It opens up and becomes a huge storage ottoman! C) It’s deep enough to provide seating space while still being tucked under a shallow table, so I don’t need to drag it out to open it.

Progress in the Entry | Land of Laurel

Being quite the spend-it-all-at-once-er I also bought an indoor/outdoor rug at about the same time. I picked one that was made of polypropylene because it would hide the dirt and I could take it in the backyard and hose it off if it got really dirty. The rug itself is also heavily textured with the heathered dark parts of the rug being flatwoven and about 1/8″ below the height of the light part of the rug design. I wanted something that would make the silly transition between the sheet vinyl and LVT floors less obvious. The sheet vinyl part of the entry is 4′ x 7′ and rug I bought was 3′-9″ by 5′-8″ so it covers almost the entire entry area. Then on an IKEA trip I stumbled upon some welcome mats. Most of the mats at the store said “Welcome” in English, but I spotted one that said “Willkommen” which is the German translation. Being the Germanophile I am, I snapped it up instantly and stood over my cart like a mama dog protecting her babies. I took it home and paired it with the larger black and white rug for a modern look. Having this mat inside helps keep things even cleaner, especially since we do not have any outdoor overhang! Jacks was so excited about the rug, he even posed with it for Instagram (yes this was 3 months ago).

Kitten Door Mat | Land of Laurel

With the hanging of the mirror and the purchase of the rugs and ottoman, this entry had a completely different look and feel. Thank goodness! It wasn’t done yet – no there was lots left to do – but, progress had been made and the space was starting to feel like home. Plus I finally had a place to store my shoes (the ottoman!) and a place to sit while putting on my shoes (the ottoman!). No more hopping around on one foot like a clumsy flamingo!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

Now that my clumsy flamingo days were over, I also wanted a place to hang my purse and any wet coats (have you heard that it rains here in Portland, OR?). I inherited some pretty reclaimed wood planks from a friend a while back. I pulled one out that looked to be about the right size; its gorgeously beat up and has some paint still staining it. I love old wood (wink wink! No, gross! Bad joke! I take it back.).  Then I picked up some of these painted square tile hooks from World Market.

DIY Coat Rack | Land of Laurel

I laid them out on top of the wood plank on my dining table and spaced them out until they were even to the eye, before marking their location with a pen. Then I drilled shallow holes in the wood to allow for the screws.

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off by screwing the hooks onto the board. (Is it just me or did that sound dirty too?)

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

I finished it off (oh my god, why does this sound so bad?!) by drilling holes at the middle of each end of the board and taking two 2″ screws to fasten it into the studs in the entry. The coatrack looks cute and holds my purse quite nicely!

DIY Coatrack | Land of Laurel

Now, why stop there when there’s so much more to do in this room?! If you scroll all the way up to the first picture in this post, you’ll see a weird box on the wall. What is it? I have no idea. Why is it there? To annoy me. How do I fix it? Classic answer: a gallery wall.

Entry Gallery Wall | Land of Laurel

Boom! A few pieces of art and now that box isn’t quite so obvious. Here is my map of England, a fun and funky art piece my Aunt Pat found, and a print I bought at a Museum in Milan. This entry has so many walls, I still need to add art to several spots! This is a good start though. Overall, I’m feeling good, because this entry is looking so much nicer!

Entry Progress | Land of Laurel

A vast improvement over the before, I just have to say!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Oh! That before picture makes me realize another couple of quick updates. See that ugly carpet sticking out under the door? Ripped out. Goodbye gross! The cheap mirror on the closet door didn’t even last through the first week in the Duplex. There are some things I can’t change – the yellow brown moldings, the door, etc, but in a rental, sometimes you gotta take what you can get! What’s on the horizon for this space? Lot’s of final touches, but first, a custom console. You may have seen this sneakpeek pic on Instagram a few weeks ago when I was test fitting my furniture build:

Console Prep | Land of Laurel

I’m still working on the final touches of that piece, but the goal is to knock that out this week and begin accessorizing and putting more art up next weekend. Wish me luck!

Do you have anything you’re working on that has a fast approaching deadline? Does that make you panic? Or work harder? Or both?! Let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments!

Safer Shower

Safer Shower

My shower curtain started to disintegrate. Yay! How happy this made me. Not. I was not pleased. However, this gave me an opportunity to get a more eco-friendly alternative without feeling guilty for swapping my old one out.

 

One of the biggest toxins no one talks about?  Vinyl. Polyvinyl chloride, PVC, (or as it’s more commonly known: vinyl) is a type of plastic that is rather toxic. It’s toxic during the manufacturing process, leading to the release of many chemicals into the air and water streams. It’s toxic when it’s in your environment, releasing chemicals that are harmful to reproductive organs, cause breast cancer, birth defects, and endocrine disruption. As well as being toxic after we finish with these products and dump them into the landfill where they will stay for millions of years, leeching more of these chemicals into their surroundings. The main ingredient in vinyl that is so terrible is one of the plasticizers that gives plastic that flexible characteristic: phthalates. There are two kinds of phthalates, ortho-phthalates and terra-phthalates. The adverse health affects of ortho-phthalates are more known and they are, although legal, increasingly more regulated by private companies such as Home Depot. Basically, although many companies and government agencies are aware of these horrific affects of this toxin (and the many other chemicals that compose vinyl), it is sadly, still not illegal. Vinyl is heavily used throughout the toy, construction, any many other industries.  My personal theory is that vinyl will become the next asbestos. But I am not a scientist, I’m just guessing. I may be way off, but until proven otherwise, I make efforts to avoid vinyl.

 

Basically, my old shower curtain was vinyl and I wanted a much healthier replacement. The LA Times even wrote an article on the toxins associated with vinyl shower curtains. We’re talking liver cancer, nervous system damage, nausea. I wanted something that I could breathe a little easier around! I hoped for a waxed organic cotton liner, but I had difficulty sourcing one in the short time frame I accidentally caused for myself (I tossed my shower curtain liners before actually purchasing new ones… oops!).

 

My search led me to Target where I ultimately purchased two of these Threshold Shower Curtain Liners  (one for either side of the clawfoot bathtub). At $18 each, they were not the cheapest liners. But they’re made of polyester which doesn’t release the type of vicious toxins that vinyl does.  Although I still wish I could find some in cotton, these made a good alternative for now. Next time I’ll do my research before tossing the old liners!

 

Shower Curtain Liner | Land of Laurel

 

As for how the polyester fabric holds up to water compared to vinyl, I have not noticed a difference! These new liners keep all the water in just as well as the more plastic-y feeling vinyl curtains did (an important thing when you have a clawfoot bathtub/stand up shower and wood bathroom trim!). Plus they look and feel so much better!

 

Polyester Shower Curtain | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I am so happy with this purchase! The liners look great, I feel better about their chemical make up, and they’re just a little bit wider than my old curtains keeping more water in! The bathroom is coming along now (you may notice I’ve hung some art!). I’ll have some finishing touches to share and then I can call this room done!

 

Is anyone else terrified by the adverse affects of chemicals in vinyl? Anyone know where to get a good wax-coated cotton shower curtain liner?

5 Minute Cat Haven

Remember that time I found cherry crates at a fruit stand on the side of 101? And it was pretty much the most exciting thing ever? I took them home and filled them with magazines and placed them under the glass top of the coffee and side tables in my living room. They looked pretty awesome and helped prevent incredibly clumsy people like myself from running into the glass table top so frequently. As they were sitting there I soon realized I wasn’t the only one who loved the crates. Malary could frequently be found sitting in them, on top of the magazines, or stretching out resting her paws on the crates. She seemed to prefer the coffee table crates and occasionally surprised visitors with her presence.

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Well, lately, I’ve been trying to purge all the excess crap I have in my life. I took two laundry baskets full of clothes to Goodwill; I organized my bathroom medicine cabinet and under-sink cabinet, tossing the excess products I no longer use; I organized my shoe/jackets closet, got rid of several coats and pairs of shoes; and I went through my magazines tossing everything I no longer wanted (don’t worry, I kept every issue of House Beautiful).

 

I used four of these cherry crates in my living room. Two under the coffee table and one under each side table. One side table is sitting below the ivy plant in the middle of the photo above. I ended up tossing every single magazine I had in that crate. I have no idea why I’ve held on to so many magazines, I never flip through the non-house/home related ones.

 

Anyways, I was left with an empty crate! Now… I just love my cat. I know, I know, I’m a cat-lady, but whatever. #catladyandproud I decided that in this little tucked away crate I could make Malary a little spot of her own.

 

I hopped over to IKEA in Emeryville (holla ten minute drive! #entirereasonImovedhere) intending to buy two small throw pillows or a stand bed pillow to stick into the crate. Well, IKEA doesn’t sell standard pillowcases by themselves from most of their bedding lines. You can get the plain solid color ones, but that seemed too plebeian for my little kitty queen. I looked through the throw pillows and almost sprang for two of the faux sheep skin ones, but then I stumbled upon the red version of this guy, the Annbritt pillow. Apparently this is from the winter collection and they’re no longer shown online. IKEA still had a whole bunch of these sweater pillows in grey, cream, and red. Of course, I had to go for the red. The funky dimensions (approximately 15×30″) made it a perfect fit for the wooden crates. I was a little nervous Malary would be off put by the buttons, but I decided to go for it anyways. And at $13 buckaroos, really, how could I not?

 

I brought the pillow home and immediately stuck it into the empty crate. I sprinkled it with cat nip to get Malary’s attention right before snapping this picture.

 

5 Minute Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

The cat nip worked pretty much instantly, because as soon as I snapped that last picture, Malary was all, “Hmmm, excuse me, what are this?”

 

Malary's Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

After she spent a few minutes exploring the new bed, I stuck it back on the shelf on the side table. She hopped on in and pretty much hasn’t left it since. Although she normally spends most of her mornings napping on the back of the couch by the big windows, the last couple of days I’ve found her curled up down here.

 

Sleeping Cat in Bed | Land of Laurel

 

It’s pretty freaking cute, y’all. And I’m not just talking about the cat. This is a pretty attractive cat bed in my opinion. The crate? Vintage and cool, textural with the wood. The pillow? Happy, bright, red, and the sweater texture is just so cozy! By tucking it under the side table, not only is it more isolated and cave-like for Malary, it also doesn’t scream “CAT BED!!” to anyone hanging out in this room. By placing it beneath a glass top, I can also stalk my cat while she’s sleeping. Yes I am a complete creeper, but she’s just so cute!

 

Hidden Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Ignore the bits of pollen the ivy decided to dump all over the table. Thanks!

 

Eventually she clued up to my cat-stalking and gave me her pissed off face.

 

Malary | Land of Laurel

 

…so I had to stop watching her curled up on her new cat bed. She is the boss after all…

 

 

 

 

 

Just kidding! She then started cleaning herself and it was ADORABLE.

 

Cat Tongue | Land of Laurel

 

I mean, seriously, can you believe this little girl is sixteen years old?! She is still my cute baby girl. Gah!

 

Cat Bed | Land of Laurel

 

Okay, okay, enough fan-girling over my cat. I told you I was a #catladyandproud, right? Who else out there is a self admitting cat lady? Made any cat beds lately? Or found one that fit in with your home decor?

 

Handkerchief Art

After my grandmother passed away in 2014, I was handed down many things. Plants, a wooden stool, suitcases, a sheepskin rug. I love having these little bits and pieces of her scattered around my home, reminding me of her on a daily basis. A few things are still finding their places in my home. Recently, two more found their new purpose!

 

Among my Oma’s things were many handkerchiefs. Back in the days before waste was normal and tossing 150 pieces of paper in the landfill every time you had a cold became completely acceptable, everyone used handkerchiefs! Now among the everyday handkerchiefs my Oma had several decorative handkerchiefs that were probably never used. Two were rather fun and festive and lucky for me, those are the two that I was given!

 

I bought some square, white IKEA picture frames and popped the handkerchiefs behind the glass. One of them was actually a little small, so I ended up taping it to a piece of white paper first. Here they are in all their glory!

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

I decided to hang both of them in my bedroom on the wall parallel to the length of my bed. They both have blue, white, and red hues in their imagery so it ties in with my bedding fairly well.

 

The handkerchief on the right is pretty great; it’s all about travel! I could totally see something like this in a nursery, but since that’s like ten plus years out, let’s not even go there. For now, we’ll call it “fun” and not “child-like,” mmkay? It’s Bon Voyage theme always makes me smile. My Oma loved to travel. She visited so many places in this world, something I’ve always loved to do as well.

 

Bon Voyage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Shall we get a little bit closer? Yes, that is my reflection in the glass of the picture frame. Realizing now, that although the images from the airlines are multi-directional, I’ve hung this handkerchief upside-down if you take a closer look at that plane. Whatever. Let’s call it charming and pretend it’s emulating that scene from Flight,  which is my favorite movie to watch before traveling anywhere. The little Bon Voyage marches around all four sides of the handkerchief, but I framed it to just show the one so the sizing would be more similar to that of the other handkerchief (which was significantly smaller).

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

The other handkerchief is equally, if not more, representative of my Oma. It’s Struwwelpeter! Every German’s favorite stories from her childhood. The book is a collection of cautionary tales for children written in 1845 about the importance of cutting your hair & nails, not playing with matches, not sucking your thumb, etc. In basically every single story the child is either killed or mutilated after not listening to his or her parents. They’re fabulous! I mean, I probably wouldn’t read them to a child, like they were originally intended, but you know, next time you need scary stories to read around a camp fire, this is perfect! You can find the illustrated German version here for an idea of the tales. Or see Dwight Schrute from The Office reference it here as well as the English translation. I love these stories! I know it’s crazy and they’re violent and awful, but I find them some what hilarious and oh so mid-1800s German!

 

Struwwelpeter Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

My favorite story, about Harriet who was told not to play with matches, is — unfortunately– not depicted. Regardless, I the handkerchief reminds me of my childhood afternoons reading with my grandmother. Here’s a closer look at the handkerchief.

 

Struwwelpeter | Land of Laurel

 

Now, before I go on, I must note that I do not condone or promote anything from these collection of tales. They were written over 150 years ago. They are violent and occasionally racist. They should not be taken at face value, but rather studied and viewed as stories and imagery of historical interest only. I have a Bachelor’s in German Studies from Tufts University and my studies into German culture lead to my fascination with these tales, as well as my personal family history. They are in no way politically correct.

 

The two handkerchiefs remind me of my ancestry and my Oma. I love the idea of framing fabric, especially as both handkerchiefs were creased from laying folded in a drawer for years and years. I could have ironed them out, but some how, I felt they added to the story of these handkerchiefs. So up they went in my bedroom. Memories on the wall, reminding me of my past, present, and future.

 

Vintage Handkerchief Art | Land of Laurel

 

Have you ever framed a piece of fabric that reminds you of someone? I thought these were just too beautiful to leave in a drawer!

 

 

 

 

 

Silver Succulents

I mentioned here that while Nicole and I visited in Portland, Oregon we stopped in at the Goodwill Superstore on the Southeast side. Wowza! If you live in Portland, go there! It was amazing! Huge! There were rows and rows of clothes and entire section devoted to books. Books organized by genre! I’ve never been to a thrift store with a) so many books or b) books this well organized! Only United Airlines strict carry-on baggage allowances kept me from buying a large stack. That and the fact that I recently spent $40 on used books (that’s like 30+ books!) at the Blackoak Books moving sale in Berkeley. Hello my name is Laurel and I am a book-aholic.

 

This Goodwill Superstore had an entire aisle full of sterling silver, priced extremely low. This is where Nicole and I got truly excited. I had the idea of buying one of the smaller silver pieces and filling it with succulents. Because how adorable would that be? The answer is extremely adorable! We both decided to get small, packable, objects. Nicole ended up with a creamer and I found this fantastic sugar bowl which was missing it’s top. Perfect, since I needed it to be topless for the succulents anyways. We were ready for our friendship succulent planters now.

 

Goodwill Sugar Bowl | Land of Laurel

 

At home, I unpacked my sugar bowl. It was still adorable. Yay! This was such a great way to upcycle something sad and unwanted into something cute and happy. Here it is next to Fred for comparison sake. The little sugar bowl is  about 5 inches wide from tip of handle to tip of handle and only about 3 inches high.

 

Fred and the Silver Sugar Bowl

 

I didn’t want to go out and buy succulents, because, why spend the dough when I can get them for free? Plus I need teensy tiny succulents. What did I do? I raided the driveway, which is lined with three varieties of succulents. I sliced off a few of the smallest off shoots from each variety and was ready to go!

 

I quickly popped a few small pieces of gravel into the bottom of the sugar bowl, added some potting soil, and gently stuck in the succulents. The sterling silver sugar bowl ended up being everything I imagined!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Not only was it super cute, but it was somehow playful and sophisticated. It makes makes me want to sip a hot cup of tea and speak in a British accent. Or should I say, “Ahhcksent?” Yes, maybe the latter is best.

 

I thought about polishing the sterling silver, but ended up deciding against it. Partially, because I am truly lazy, partially because I don’t have any silver polish lying around, but mostly because I love the patina it already has. The tarnishing is kind of beautiful and I love it, just the way it is.

 

As for the little mini-succulents– they were a perfect fit! I tried to find sprouts that varied both in height and size so there would be some movement. It worked out pretty dang well! My favorite variety are the little guys at the top that are tinged with purple at the tips. Anyone know what they’re called? I have planted several of them (there is even one in Fred). I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow crazy tall (like the one in Fred did), but until it happens, I’m not going to stress about it! I’m not sure why they grow so tall inside (maybe lack of sun?!), outside they get much larger and wider rather than growing straight up all skinny. I ended up bending the one in Fred underneath one of the leaves of the aloe vera, because it got so tall it started falling over. Crazytown!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Mini-Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

Overall, I’m pretty psyched about this guy. My only issue is that now I want like fifteen more! I initially thought they’d look awesome on the window ledge above my bed. Then I tried to stick this little guy up there and realized that the window ledge in that room is shallower than elsewhere in the house. The little legs on the sugar bowl basically make it instantly attempt to catapult off the ledge. Don’t worry, I drop things so frequently that I am now fantastic at catching them. Some of the time. The sugar bowl is safe! RIP glass mason jar completely full of apple cider (I missed the fridge shelf yesterday afternoon…).

 

But clearly, I need to hit up Goodwill a few more times and pick up a few more sterling silver pieces to use as succulent planters. I can see them scattered everywhere in a house, sitting on top of stacks of books. Very English countryside. Very me. Especially the part about the books. Have you read Living History by Hilary Clinton? I read it several months ago and ironically what struck me the most about the book was a few simple paragraphs describing the interiors of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ home. Filled with books! You got it people, if Jackie O did it, then it is beautiful, timeless, and oh so classic. Or at least that’s what I plan on telling anyone who asks if I need as many books as I own. Because, yes, yes I do. They make me happy.

 

Anyways, my new little sugar bowl is too cute and I am excited to make a whole bunch more! They would make fantastic little gifts, don’t you think? Party favors, wedding favors, birthday gifts, I can think of so much more!

 

Sterling Silver Sugar Bowl Succulent Planter | Land of Laurel

 

 

I’ve decided to stick this little guy on my nightstand for now. We’ll see if that’s enough light to keep him happy. Hopefully so, because who doesn’t want to wake up next to something that dang cute?!

 

Have you ever upcycled something into a planter? Have any advice on raising succulents? Know what varieties of succulent I’ve found from my driveway?

Wooden Crates are So Great!

Happy Tuesday! Happy March 1st!  Did you have a good weekend? Enjoy the Oscars? Outraged by the winners or happily agreed with the votes? I didn’t watch! Just read about it and enjoyed the dresses online. I went with my family to eat at Gather here in Berkeley instead. So yummy! I had a very chill weekend overall and got many things done, so I got to prep some blog posts for y’all! Yay!

 

Remember my living room? Those glass coffee and side tables always make me cringe. As I am among the World’s Clumsiest People, glass in places I can easily fall/trip over makes me… nervous, to say least. Because the tables are pretty perfectly sized for the space and I don’t have the budget to invest in new ones (plus, where would I put my roommates if I did?), I wanted to make them a bit more visually prominent in hopes I wouldn’t break them and time soon. Or, ever, really. Yes, let’s concentrate on not breaking them ever; that sounds much better, really. My attempts to make the table more prominent involved holiday displays, trays, and plants. It helped, but it didn’t quite add the visual weight I hoped for…

 

Living Spaces | Land of Laurel

 

A while ago, while driving down Highway 101 on the way home from a job site, my co-worker and I stopped for sustenance at a fruit stand. We were so hungry! Among the piles of various fruits and nuts they had piled old wooden cherry crates and were selling them for only $5! I see crates like these all the time at the Alameda Flea Market but always priced more than $30! I could have played it safe and bought one or two, but do I ever play it safe? Hell no! I hopped on that deal like a monkey on a banana! I bought eight cherry boxes for a total of $40. Worth it! Then I stuffed them into our already full (of chair samples!) van and called it a #colddeadfingers find worthy of Mandi! Here’s the pic from the overly excited text I sent to my two best friends, my mom, my sister, my aunt, my next-door-neighbor, and my next-door-neighbor’s dog. Let’s just say, I was pretty freakin’ excited about this!

 

Great Crate! | Land of Laurel

 

They were a little dirty, but I knew they’d clean up quick! At first, I had no idea what I’d do with them, but I knew I’d figure it out quickly. Produce crates aren’t hard to come by, but at that price, I felt so overly joyed. I was ready to celebrate! When I got them home, I wiped them down with a sponge and some Honest Multi-Purpose Spray. They were pretty clean by the time I was done, but I think in the future I’d like to try some furniture wax or polish to bring out the wood tones even more. For now, they’re just fine!

 

Because we had two side tables and the coffee table, I went and stuck four of the crates in the living room. The X-support under the glass of the coffee table ended up being absolutely perfect for the crates! They fit perfectly and we nice and stably balanced. More importantly? The coffee table went from barely there to having actual visual weight! Here it is before; see how your eye just glances over it? Not great for someone who needs many visual queues in order to not trip into things!

 

Glass Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Then, look with the cherry crates stacked neatly on the bars! Boom! You can actually see the thing!

 

Cherry Crates Under Coffee Table | Land of Laurel

 

Not only were the crates very stable on the X-support, they actually extended the perfect amount, just a couple inches less than the width of the table. That meant, your eye could distinguish the edges of the glass and my brain could tell my body to avoid falling into it. Yay!

 

At first I just stacked the boxes under the glass of the tables, but then, as you can see above, I got a better idea! I filled the boxes with the design magazine I have lying around all over my house. Not only does this clear out the stacks I had lined up against the wall in my bedroom, but it provides reading material for any guests. Many of our visitors glance through them while we’re in the kitchen or chatting around. It’s nice to see the magazines in use and not gathering dust!

 

Magazine Storage | Land of Laurel

 

And there, my friends, is a ten minute fix to a small problem that will hopefully prevent me from dying a glassy death. I’ve definitely noticed that I bump into the table far less frequently now! Plus, I have four more cherry crates sitting in the attic waiting for another project to come by. Hmmm… any ideas for how I should repurpose them? Do you like glass tables inside? Do you notice the visual weight of items in your home?