Monthly Archives: April 2014

And the decision is…..

We had our second admitted student day last week at Knox college.  Beautiful campus – small to the eyes of this Big Ten girl, but full of trees, green areas, and old, history-infused buildings.   Stand out moments:

  1. We toured campus and saw the spot where one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates took place, as well as a chair that Lincoln (and more recently Obama) sat in – available for prospective students to sit in as well.    Very cool piece of history in that.
  2. The library at Knox is my personal idea of heaven.  Large comfortable furniture, wooden paneling and built in bookcases and glass fronted cabinets.  Enough modern conveniences to be useful.  And a special collection of rare books including Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald.  I want to know if they need a professor of entrepreneurism.
  3. The students are quirky.  In a good way, but clearly, marching to the beat of your own drum is not only accepted but encouraged here.  Clothing styles from early American hippie to modern punk, buttoned-up preppie to relaxed casual – we saw it all, and not in clumps but rather mix and matched.

We were impressed with much of what we heard and saw.  So, we were down to decision time.  Drake or Knox?  Really….no bad choice here.  We felt comfortable with the quality of education and life at either school.

  • While there seems to be somewhat less of a focus on internships at Knox than at Drake, there is a very high focus on interaction between Professors and students.
  • Drake is larger, Knox is closer.
  • Drake is blue, Knox is purple.

Final choice – Knox.  Why?  Just felt right.

Good as any other reason when weighing two equal options.





Passover starts tonight, and in my house that means a full house, a full table, family and friends.  As holidays go, it isn’t my personal favorite – a little too structured for my taste.   But it is certainly a holiday that stands out, defines our household as Jewish, and that is good.  And it continues the traditions from both my and my husband’s families.

This year we are a little on the smaller side – we are seating 30 (it was 29 until a few hours ago when we added one…).   I say smaller because last year we had 45.  This is quite the feat when the entire house is under 1500sf.   Furniture goes to live in the garage, tables get arranged, chairs are borrowed.  But I wouldn’t cut back on our guest list for the world.   Both sides of the family – everyone in town.  Friends who ARE family.  And always, always, those  who for one reason or another have found themselves without a table.   There is always room for one more.  (Well, last year we managed the one more, but only because one left early…..)

While the dinner might not be what my great-grandparents’ served, and the service is decidedly more relaxed, one thing has not changed.  There is always room.  There is always enough food.  Guests are always welcome.   Seder or just Wednesday dinner, that is a perpetual truth at our house.

And for that, I am grateful.

For those of you who celebrate, may you have a holiday of family, friends and joy.   Smiles.


Journey to Space….

After picture – see below for before!

So, last April, it became painfully obvious that our 400 square foot work space was no longer going to cut it.   I had 3 to 4 people working in here at once, and while we were all quite chummy, there are limits to what can reasonably be accomplished when space is that tight.  Add to that the chaotic condition of the garage and you have a recipe for disaster.   So I undertook to expand my space.

We considered digging out additional basement – not only was this cost prohibitive, there were definite structural issues for our 60+ year old hose there.  We looked into renting space, but if I wanted to stay within half an hour of home, I was looking at annual rents of over $25k a year – plus utilities and build outs.  So the most reasonable option was to refinish the garage.

We started by renting a moving pod and emptying out the garage.  First time in 16+ years that it had been completely empty.  Found things that I had forgotten about, found things from the previous owners that i never knew were in there.   (I did however finish my oldest son’s baby book – BEFORE his 18th birthday.  I count that as a win!)    In any event,  that process has been a large impetus for our clearance sales….

We had the garage rewired, brought out phone and internet, new lights.  Insulated the entire thing and HVAC.  I painted it all a bright white.  Laid a new attic floor as well as a new concrete floor.  Moved shelving around, bought some new shelving.  Sandi built a handy-dandy box holder on wheels for me.  Rigged up a pulley system to store our packing peanuts above the garage door, and while we were at it, we insulated the garage door.    Of course, the garage door opener went kaput during all this, so we installed a new one.

Then came the hard part. Moving everything back in.  I was bound and determined to make decisions about what was coming in – sorting through every box, selling, tossing or giving away things that were no longer needed.  (A work still in progress….).  The result?  Our new space has a work desk for shipping baskets – building too if need be.  The attic is full of silk flowers, carefully labelled so we can find what we want.  We added a computer desk so that we can create shipping labels on the spot.  Because we are climate controlled, we are able to store foodstuffs without a problem.

The difference is amazing.  While I still spend the majority of my time in the basement, my guys are able to work upstairs and not crash into each other.  We actually have a space for staging packages waiting to ship out.  All lovely and beautiful.  If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and see it!.

I know that in the newsletter I promised more pictures here, but that just didn’t work, so I have created a full album on our Facebook page – check them out!  (This link will take you to the first picture….)

In any event, it has been quite the journey and I am glad we finally made it!

Smiles all!


inside garage


Spring Cleaning


Table of books and containers to go away

I’m not a big one for spring cleaning.

Let’s be real.  I’m not a big one for cleaning, period.   However, several things have come together to make spring cleaning a thing around here this year.

I need to get rid of the moving pod that has been taking up space in my driveway – so I need to sort through everything in there.  And then I need to make a place to put anything I am keeping, so I need to sort and clean out other spaces.  Sandi asked me for a list of all the books I have from my favorite author – so I cleaned out the bookshelves and got rid of 20 or so books (this is a major accomplishment for me….).  And I found a bunch of fun new items at the Housewares show that I want to bring in, but I need space, so I am listing excess inventory on Amazon. (check that out here).

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Neat & Tidy bookshelf

Now that all said, what it means in practice is that everything is a bit more of a disaster.  While the bookshelves are a thing of beauty, there are several stacks of books waiting for a new home.  There is a stack of stuff to be listed on Amazon or Etsy, stuff waiting for me to sort…..stacks everywhere.   Slowly but surely I am working my way through everything, and that does feel good.

So if you are looking for a deal, check out my Amazon, Etsy or Clearance page – generally there are different things on each page.   I hope you see things you love.  If you see many things you love, I am happy to combine shipping for you.

Now….if only it would FEEL like spring.