Blood, Sweat & Years

Rightfully or wrongfully, I’m just gonna start this entry by saying that the signs of the Zodiac are seldom wrong. In fact, the sign Brian blog 2 1crabunder which I was born, Cancer, could not be more spot on. Cancerians value family, love and not the least of which, their home and surroundings. In our homes, we find expression, peace and, when necessary, escape from all those other Zodiac signs that can drive us nuts.

I have to admit I never really got how much I appreciate creating a home until I was in a place long enough to invest in one. Up until 12 years ago I was always on the move, from college to grad school, to jobs in marketing, entertainment news and then to home shopping. It seemed that I was in a different city every couple of years.   It didn’t make sense to paint walls, much less buy a home.

Finally, upon moving to Minneapolis 12 year ago, I knew it was time to settle in. Designing and decorating my first home was fun, easy and in no time it was complete. I thought it was nice, but when local publications were asking for interviews and photo ops, I felt a sense of possibility in the air.

Brian blog 2 2BAgarden

It was around the time when friends like Wendi Russo and others were telling me to sell and create a new home, that I went to Lowes Hardware to buy the necessary items to add some much needed extra storage in my garage. No sooner had I put all the materials in my car and I said to myself “Forget it. I’m going to move.” It wasn’t so much that I needed extra storage, but that my heart was saying there is more of you to express and more ideas you have to create.

Which leads me to the Blood, Sweat and Years.

After days of looking at over 700 homes online in my price range, I found my Grey Gardens Home in Minnetonka and didn’t look beyond it. It was love at first sight.

Brian blog 2 3 roof construct

I kept it a secret from almost everyone, including my family. Only my agent, broker and financial advisor were in the know. The house needed so much work that I didn’t want friends and family calling me crazy.

Brian blog 2 4BAstair

Then it was love at first fright. The day of the home inspection it was raining and dripping inside several areas of the house.   (Luckily, that brought the sale price down considerably!) Nothing a new roof wouldn’t fix. Then, the day after I closed, my dog Molly discovered a family of raccoons under the back porch. Nothing a frantic call to a local pest control wouldn’t fix. Cha-Ching! And so many other ‘Discoveries’ both large and small on top of the inspector’s finds that I accepted with large exhales. Like needing a jack hammer to remove kitchen tile set in over an inch of cement (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching) and chewed wires in the floor (Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching, Chaaaaa-Chinggggg!).

Brian blog 2 5BA kitchen

 

 

Brian blog 2 6NicoleDid I have help with the construction? I certainly did. Did I do any of the work? You bet. All the redesign and any stripping, sanding, painting and landscaping where I could save myself some cash. Did I eat a lot of dust ? Absolutely, for breakfast, lunch & dinner! Was it uncomfortable at times? YES! At one point I had the refrigerator in the dining room, the coffee pot and microwave in the powder room, and only the working sink in the laundry room. And that was just one room of 4 that were out of commission at the same time. But I would do it all over again. Yes, let me repeat: I would do it all over again. Just in a different house that needs a whole lot of love.

Brian blog 2 7 BAliving

Seeing potential in homes and creating beautiful, inviting spaces for living and entertaining are some of the gifts God has given me. And being able to see what’s possible in homes other people would reject is so incredibly satisfying to me. (My house was on the market for two years before I came along.) Shopping for materials, finding amazing fixtures and decorating the spaces all bring me incredible joy. And knowing where and how to find all of the materials and furnishings at such huge discounts is a resourcefulness I value in myself as I am not one to ever pay full price. More like 40-80% off retail. And I’m talking for both the materials and the home.

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To say which room brings me the most joy would be hard. I took on every space in this home over the last six years with a lot of passion.

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Of course there are a couple more designs I am currently working to incorporate. But then what? Like the sand crab, is it time for me to find a new shell?

So many of you have been so supportive of my projects.   And some of you have even let me help you with yours. Know that any tips I’ve learned over the years are yours for the asking. Write me for any ideas you may want to add to your list of considerations. If you find it really helpful, then I will invoice you for a nickel.   Let’s learn from each other to make our nests (and shells) the best they can be.

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When life gives you lemons . . . make lemonade!

It’s a quote my grandmother stitched onto an embroidered piece of fabric and framed it, placing it in my bedroom – it had 2 bunnies that reminded me of Beatrix Potter bunnies – very simple crisscrosses created the words to a very complex life message.  I’ve thought of this quote many times as I’ve experienced tough times – how do I make lemonade out of this?  It means to find the silver lining to the dark cloud, or to make something positive out of something negative.

Like cancer—how can you find the positive in that? One little girl did just that.

For many, summertime is the time to drink lemonade because it’s hot. However, for my family, it’s a time to do our part and fundraise to help find a cure for cancer—one cup at a time! 

Chloe stand blog

Each summer my daughter, Chloe has held a neighborhood lemonade stand outside of our home where she sells cupcakes, cookies and brownies to raise money for Childhood Cancer Research through Alex’s Lemonade Foundation.   It’s an annual fundraising event that Alex’s parents continued on well after their 4- year old daughter Alex’s death from brain cancer.  She was an inspiration to kids across the nation for telling her mom she wanted to raise over $1 million dollar for a cure for all children who have cancer.  Alex doesn’t know it- but she has more than doubled that goal!  Chloe was just one of the kids she inspired to take action!

Chloe brownie blogDaddy is handy so he made the lemonade stand with pink and yellow strips when she was just 6-years old, soon becoming an attraction to all of the kids in the neighborhood!  Everyone wanted to come and help pour lemonade and sell cookies!  

Wendi group blogIt’s a whole weekend event and, of course, I invited all my fellow hosts – this year Sam Saboura from One World stopped by and did a live Facebook chat with me from the Lemonade stand – AND he contributed!  Laura Duffek from your favorite bedding and Tiffany Style Lighting shows also came around, as well as host Kimberly Wells, who was a big donor this year (thank you Kimberly!!) and even  easy and breezy Becky Wright from OSO Casual!  Host Kendy Kloepfer comes every year and got Chloe police blogto witness the fire truck pulling up onto the block, along with Chloe who, of course, was screaming and jumping up and down (sidenote- why are firemen always cute? Where were my single girlfriends?)  Another donor was even our own CEO Bob Rosenblatt (who is a doll by the way), Invicta Ryan . . . and the list goes on!

 

So, all-in-all, it was a huge success!

By the time Chloe was 6-years old, she had raised over $1,000. Each year since then, she has surpassed that goal, with over $8,000 donated so far!  That first year the local news station came to interview her and last year, a local company who chooses one “little fundraiser” to help raise BIG money, presented her with a $1500 check.  It’s been amazing to witness how people really come out to help, and have been moved by the big heart of a ‘little’ person.

Chloe stand 2 blogThis year Chloe’s Lemonade stand was held in honor of Cheryl,  a long-time beloved friend and nail technician to many of the female hosts at EVINE, who’s had cancer for over a year and is undergoing a major battle for her life.  Prayers for her would be wonderful . . . .

 Learning about compassion and helping others is a lesson I wanted to teach my daughter at a young age—what are you doing to touch the life of others this summer?

 

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