"bye bye house"

goodbye holland

goodbye holland

goodbye holland

goodbye holland

saturday was an emotional day for us as we packed up the rest of our belongings and said goodbye to the house that had become our home. it was so hard to leave the place that we had worked so hard to make into what we had envisioned. 192 w. 12th was a dream and where we thought our children would grow up. it's where we learned to tile and countless other home renovation projects. it's where eleanor learned to walk, and where our son was born. it was the beginning of our life as a family, it was the first home we would purchase together. it held 13 people when stijn's family made their first ever trip to the u.s. it held many conversations, many tears, many hugs, and lots of love. when we decided to move we knew that this would be one of the hardest parts but in the end we also know that it is just a house and everything that mattered left with us in that truck. there will be a different house, in another city, and it will house even more great memories. thanks 192 w. 12th for a great year and as eleanor says, "bye bye house."

two years and a new beginning

2 years and a new beginning\

today marks two years of marriage and the day we leave holland. i find it incredibly fitting that as we begin our third year of marriage we also begin the next part of our life as a family in cincinnati. it has been an incredible year for us as a couple and the process of taking this next step forward has made us even stronger as husband and wife. today i am grateful for all that i have in stijn as a partner and a friend. i am proud of who he is as a man, a father, and a husband. here's to another year's adventures together.

winter wonderland

cheese


i was just stating my disappointment with this "michigan winter". i mean i bought snow boots for goodness sake and i was really hoping to wear them. not that digging cars out of the driveway is high on my list of desirables but i was expecting lake effect snow and so far, nothing. and then it happened, the snow came, and it hasn't stopped since. despite the fact that my car is not made for this kind of weather i love it! i don't appreciate folks that are always complaining about the weather. i am so grateful to live somewhere where i experience all of the seasons and where my children get to explore and discover their world covered in sand or snow. thank you michigan for giving us a truly beautiful winter wonderland and for giving me a reason to wear my sorels.

in the last four days we've only ventured out of the house twice but we did manage to head into our backyard yesterday for a bit when the sun came out. eleanor has seen snow before but this was her first time playing in it, discovering it. she cracked me up in her puffy snow gear, waddling through the yard, laying down in and eating the snow. i can't wait to take her back out!

yum

a very short trip to the lake

holland state park
holland state park
holland state park
holland state park

with guests visiting this weekend we wanted to take them to the lake. unfortunately the weather wasn't very beach friendly. we got out of the car, walked for about 10 minutes and then promptly hurried back into the car and went home for some hot soup.

holland state park

over the weekend

kerst markt
kerst markt

this was our last weekend in holland before holiday travel 2012 begins. we leave next friday for 10 days in belgium followed by christmas and new years in cincinnati. we spent saturday enjoying some of the holiday happenings here including the kerst markt (christmas market). we found the cutest handmade little cars and trains for baby brother! saturday night we had stew here at home and then drank egg nog and watched it's a wonderful life. well, stijn watched it. i fell asleep.
after a nice big breakfast sunday morning we spent the day organizing and cleaning the whole house. i love coming home to a clean house after a vacation. now to try and keep it that way for the week.

hoping your weekend was the loveliest. here's to a new week!

8th street market

8th street market

last wednesday was the opening of holland's farmers market which is only a five minute walk from our house. i knew when i woke up this morning that this is where we needed to be today. as you know from previous posts, i haven't been feeling myself lately and nothing snaps me back quite a quickly as the sounds of a market, or gazing at the freshest fruits, veggies, and flowers you can find. holland's market did not disappoint. i came home with bunches of peonies, rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries that tasted just as good as they looked,  lettuces, and hydroponic tomatoes.

8th street market 8th street market

even in a house in disarray surrounded by boxes the sight of beautiful flowers and knowing that my fridge is stocked with some of the best produce i've seen makes me happy. it's going to be a great summer!

8th street market

weekend bits

our weekend was spent entirely working on the house. more specifically, on the kitchen. stijn and my dad tore out the existing kitchen, took down a wall, took down the drywall and plaster covering a brick wall, took out part of the floor, re-routed heating and electric, and began rebuilding the floor and walls. i spent the weekend painting, unloading the truck, removing wallpaper, entertaining eleanor, and getting coffee and food. i am so impressed by those two men of mine and so excited to see the kitchen transforming into what is sure to be my favorite room. watching my husband and my father work so well together was almost as pleasurable as seeing the room take shape.
as i moved boxes from the truck into the house i realized many of them haven't been opened in years, a side effect of years of feeling like at any point the rug could be pulled out from underneath me. i was once again overcome with the excitement of having a home and knowing that my things can come out of their boxes and that they won't be going anywhere again for a very long time. this weekend i felt a sense of security i haven't felt in a long time. i'm safe here, i can invest myself here because we, my little family, are creating this life here together. thanks again to my dad and to stijn for working their rears off this weekend. you guys are amazing!

the peanut store

with our recent influx of visitors and my growing appreciation for this small town i am starting a new series of posts featuring local holland businesses.

fabiano's

fabiano's

to kick off the new series i want to start with the holland peanut store. the holland peanut store was opened in 1902 by the fabiano family, who immigrated to west michigan from italy. at the time the store was a soda fountain, selling milkshakes, produce, and tobacco. they later opened a second location selling peanuts and chocolate covered nuts. today the shop sells every kind of candy, nut, and chocolate you can imagine as well as their famous nutty paddle pops. walking through the store you feel transported back to a time when you (or your grandfather) could go down to the local candy shop and buy a bag of candy for a nickel. walking through the shop i couldn't help but begin singing, "the candy man" while envisioning the candy store owner in willy wonka on his library ladder. i didn't try their famous paddle pops but i did fill a bag with all sorts of candy that made me nostalgic for my childhood and stopped to drool over the saltwater taffy selection. i'm pacing myself!

fabiano's

fabiano's

fabiano's

fabiano's is on 8th street in downtown holland and is definitely worth a visit.

weekend bits

Untitled-1

my parents came to visit/help out at the house this weekend. we still have not closed and do not yet have possession but the city of holland will pick up any yard waste if you push it out into the street up until today. knowing that we had a lot of yard work to do and having planned visits around our original close date we got permission from the seller to enter the house and get some work done. we managed to take out some rather large bushes covering our driveway and walkway, tore the ivy down off the side of the house, and did some general clean up. the house looks so much better already! while going through the shed in the backyard stijn and my dad uncovered a metal letter "e". i think it's a sign that the house is for us. my parents have taken on some pretty big home renovation projects in their time and so it was so nice to have them walk through the house and help us to assess. i still find it overwhelming but i'm trying to be ok with it being a process and knowing that it will take some time.

home is where...

DSC_0417

house buying is stressful! truth be told stijn and i have been through the ringer throughout this process. because stijn is a foreigner, and therefore has no credit score here, the process of securing a loan has proven to be quite difficult. unfortunately, because i am not currently working and therefore have no steady income, my credit does not count. we understood that this was going to be the case and were prepared to have to jump through more hoops in order to purchase a home but we had no idea that it would be this frustratingly disorganized. the bank and underwriter seem to be flying blind, not able to anticipate what is needed, and therefore asking for the same document 10 times. you may recall that this is nothing new for us. we are well versed in difficulties with communication. (see story of our marriage) it just feels like we are wasting time and as our close date draws nearer it becomes painstakingly clear that we are not going to make this deadline.

in an effort to remain positive and to keep my level of enthusiasm high i now engage in daily drive-by's of our house. yesterday on our way to dinner while stijn was venting about a telephone conversation he had just had with the loan officer my car steered itself in the direction of that historic brick home with it's trees blossoming and it's tulips opening. just a reminder that it is all going to be worth it.

this house means more to me than i thought it would. i have realized that i have not had a home in years. the last time i felt at home was early in 2007, in my loft in over the rhine. in the spring of that year i packed everything and moved to hawaii to work on a coffee farm. when i came back and moved into my partner at the time's home i never unpacked. i never fully moved in. there just didn't seem to be room for me there. when that relationship ended i moved into a house once owned by my great grandparents. i had big plans for that little house but my reconnection with stijn and all the travel that went with a very long distance relationship kept me from fully committing to a home there. soon i was moving again, this time overseas, and again into someone else's home. stijn and i tried to make that apartment ours but knowing that it was only temporary made it hard to want to invest and settle. i do not see home as a place that houses possessions and i know that home is where we are and can be anywhere we make it but there are a few things that always make me feel like a place is mine, the most important of which, is my books. i am a book hoarder. i'm not a borrower of books nor a lender because my personal library is one of the things that i take great pride in. i love seeing all the stories that have marked my life lined up on a shelf. i love occasionally looking through them and remembering where i was when i was engulfed in a particular book. reading has always been a big part of my life and i wish for it to be the same for my children. i look forward to the day when eleanor looks through her parents book collection and picks one up to read. my books have been packed away in boxes for 5 years and soon they will be freed from their cardboard cages and lovingly placed on shelves to be admired and remembered again.

these are the thoughts i cling to as we struggle through the administrative process of home buying. soon we will have a home. a yard for eleanor to roll around in the grass, squirrels for kenya to chase, a porch for us to enjoy coffee on, a kitchen fully stocked with everything for me to test new recipes, bookshelves for us to unpack and arrange our books on... these are the things that keep me going through the difficulties. envisioning our life there in that house on 12th street. and what a beautiful life it is.

weekend bits

weekend

we spent the weekend almost entirely making plans and preparing for the house. we are supposed to close this friday and being that we will only have one month in between closing and when we need to move in we are trying to prioritize projects (and there are many). saturday we took a trip to grand rapids and test drove a car, had a picnic in the park with some of the best food, met up with new friends for coffee and walks, introduced eleanor to sushi, and ordered lots of furniture for the house. sunday we went to home depot to get ready for our bathroom tiling and painting projects, had pizza, and watched mad men. i'm starting to feel a little less overwhelmed by the work that the house will require now that i have organized my thoughts and things are starting to take shape. now lets just cross our fingers that this is a smooth week and that closing on friday does indeed happen.

because of the new addition to our family (the house, not another child!) you can expect to see some home inspired posts on this blog; inspiration, before and after projects, and general home ownership stuff. yay!

weekend bits

found

blue

my best friend, elisabeth, came to visit this weekend and we spent it showing her the best of our new hometown. saturday we stopped by found to drop off some cookies and to shop for some vintage dresses. we didn't get to see the st. patricks day parade but we did make it to the new holland brewery for some beer and irish tunes. we walked the streets of downtown holland and went into some of our favorite shops. we visited our new house, met one of our new neighbors, and were already invited over for a grill out. we then drove through a couple other lake towns before heading to fennville to eat dinner at the best restaurant in west michigan, a farm to table concept, salt of the earth. not only did we eat some delicious food but our wonderful server, sara, took eleanor for a walk around the restaurant and into the kitchen, leaving me to actually eat a meal. after a relaxing morning on sunday we went for a walk down to lake michigan where eleanor walked on sand for the first time. it was such a lovely weekend with the best weather and i'm so glad i got to share our new home with elisabeth. it looks like the weather is going to continue to be exceptionally beautiful this week and we will be taking full advantage.

stpaddys

discovering the trails

trails

my apologies for being a bit quiet here on the blog this week but i have been out enjoying this beautiful weather we've been having here. 70 degree days have found eleanor, kenya, and i out exploring and enjoying coffee and books in the sunshine. yesterday we went to stu visser trails, part of the macatawa watershed program. as we walked along and i saw colorful birds and turtles and the beginnings of plants reaching out of the ground i thought of how fun it will be to go back when eleanor is a bit older and will notice the things around her. it's amazing how she is already changing the way i see the world.

weekend bits

swing
swing
kenya
sled
sled
a weekend of firsts here in holland including eleanor's first swing set, our first trip to the dog park, and eleanor's first sled ride (thanks to my dad and his awesome christmas gift). we found out last night that our offer was accepted on a house. we are so excited and while we wait on our house we are already making a home.

more photos here

just perfect


happy friday to you my loves!

yesterday was a magical day. eleanor and i began by checking out the thrifting scene here in holland. we scored a few new things including a bauhaus book, some danish wood candlesticks, and this adorable cherry dress. we had lunch at crane's in the city, coffee and a cider donut at lemonjello's, stopped in a few local boutiques and a couple furniture stores. my favorite find of the day was the beautifully curated vintage shop, FOUND. i met a few lovely people including, abby, one of the owners of FOUND. after some wonderful conversations, great explorations, and the arrival of some exciting news i am beginning to feel at home here. (more on that exciting news later)

we are walking through our favorite house here again today and (fingers crossed) will be putting down an offer. it's a 1920's craftsman on cherry street making the dress we thrifted extra special. wish us luck and have a wonderful weekend friends!

weekend bits

DSC_0946
WEEKEND
DSC_0954
Big Red Lighthouse (Holland, MI)

i hope all of you had a lovely weekend. we spent ours exploring our new home, baking mini cakes for our six month old baby, playing at the lake in holland state park, making homemade pizza for pizza night, and just enjoying life as a family. here's to the beginning of another great week!

getting settled

holland

it's been five days since we arrived in holland and we've spent those days getting settled here in our new home. our temporary apartment is unbelievable, a three story vacation home right on lake macatawa and just a one mile walk from lake michigan. our location has made my jump back into running quite enjoyable. i haven't fully explored downtown holland but i did discover a coffee shop that, while not my style, makes an excellent real cappuccino.

some first impressions: holland is not as small as i originally thought, the lakes are absolutely beautiful, people talk funny, and grocery shopping here is depressing.

i'm looking forward to our first weekend to explore holland together.