20 little things

     What a great block party theme! I think #20littlethings has given us the opportunity to contemplate precisely why we love the homes we have. My husband and I settled in ours exactly two years ago next week. We foresee that it will be our “forever after” home since I have no desire to move again…ever. Neither of us consider it our dream home. Mine would be an art-deco period row house with a shady inner courtyard located in an old city center. My husband’s would be a contemporary new-build with rock-garden landscaping. Together we chose a typical Belgian farmhouse-style home built in the 1980s in a rural suburban location. I was willing to put some sweat equity into a home that needed renovation. My husband was insistent on a move-in ready home that needed nothing more than maybe a new coat of paint. His practicality won out over my fantasies…we have absolutely no remodeling experience, and we have yet to apply any new paint. But, we have spent the past two years slowly making this home one that reflects who we are.

1. At the end of the day, I think that’s what I love most about it and what will eventually make it our dream home.

2. I love our corner desk (above) filled with family photos. The quote on the wall sums up our experiences due to our military careers: “Life takes you to unexpected places; love brings you Home.” We will eventually use stick pins or something to mark the places we’ve been to on the old school world map hanging on the adjacent wall.

3. I love several architectural elements of the house, such as the front door.

4. I love the fireplace and TV surround in the living room. The former owner was an interior designer, thus we inherited her very tastefully done design. We hide all the electronic devices in the built-in cabinet. The colors actually coordinate perfectly with my treasured vase made out of Mississippi mud by a potter near my mother’s childhood home.

5. I love the crown molding and the working shutters surrounding the doorway to the sunroom.

6. I love the sunroom, which provides a comfortable indoor/outdoor transition space.

7. I love the cobblestone-paved driveway.

8. I love the wall of green around our backyard. The ivy looks great and provides some privacy in this suburban setting. We’ve planted and pleached some trees to afford even more privacy in the future as they grow, but for now they just look like twigs. 

9. I love the pergola that we had built last year. The wisteria is still young and will need a few years before it grows to provide shady cover above the outdoor dining area. I hung an old bottle dryer over the table so that we can enjoy candlelight dinners after dusk. I will eventually hang string lights from the rafters to enable even more evening ambiance. 

10. I love that my husband and I share an interest in airplanes (I served in the US Air Force, and he’s still in the Belgian Air Force), so we’ve integrated them in one form or another throughout our home decor as seen here in the entryway and stairwell. The prints on the wall are 1930s air route maps from the age of early luxury air travel. My husband had a pre-WWII wooden propeller stored away, but we pulled it out for prominent display on the stairwell landing.

11. I love that I can wake up each morning to Snoopy, the WWI flying ace and his Sopwith Camel aircraft, while enjoying a cup of coffee in the kitchen. Who doesn’t smile at Snoopy?!

12. I love that I’ve continued the aviation theme in the guest toilet to create a unique look. “Bombs away” or “Nuke ‘em” would perhaps be an appropriate motto for this room. :-) Ha ha…a little toilet humor!

13. I love that we’ve incorporated our individual collections into decor that we both like, even if it doesn’t really flow in a unified scheme. I hang plates on the wall to one side of a door, and my husband prominently displays his airplane models on the other side. Perhaps one day I will come up with an ingenious design that seamlessly integrates the two…lol! Ideas anyone?

14. I love that my husband’s parents gave him their oil painting of the harbor in Ghent that he always wanted since he was a boy. It’s a rather moody and impressionistic depiction of a brewing storm. It coincidentally blends very well with the colors in our living room. 

15. I love the collection of old prints and other artwork I’ve accumulated from my travels that allow me to reminisce over good times spent in some far-away locales, such as one of Easter Island and another a Tanzanian “tinga tinga” painting of a hyena.

16. I love that I’ve combined a set of old transferware plates of birds with a set of wine goblets I found in Murano, Italy, and a set of vintage 1950s water glasses my mother-in-law gave me.

17. I love the “boho” corner I’ve created in our bedroom. I needed a space to stash the pillows from the bed that we don’t use when sleeping. I first just heaped them on top of a Chinese kang table in the corner, but then realized that it’d be more practical if I actually made a sitting area out of the space, so I added a big kilim cushion. I then hung an old chandelier that I bought at an antique market years ago. I had been so disappointed that the upstairs ceiling was too low for it to hang anywhere without my 6’5” husband bumping into it. Now, it’s out of his pathway, and the next step is to get an electrician to route wiring to it so we can actually turn it on/off. 

18. I love this old chair that I found about 12 years ago at a French flea market. I thought I got a great bargain on it until I got it home. Soon thereafter I smelled something unpleasant in the room and realized that the chair reeked of mildew. I had to completely remove the original upholstery and even the springs and horse-hair cushion…that’s what actually caused the smell. It must have been stored away and neglected for years in an old barn. I was then left with just the frame, and it remained that way for another five years as I moved from place to place. At one point, I wove rope across the seat so that it could actually be used, but it wasn’t very pretty. Finally, I had it reupholstered and voilá! I chose two separate patterns to give it a traditional but also modern look. 

19. I love that our home is located within easy walking distance of the neighborhood bakery and grocery store. It’s great to always have freshly baked artisanal bread. 

20. I love that we can also take a leisurely walk to the nearby nature reserve. It’s a wooded marshland area with a heather landscape (photo taken in the winter). It’s also flanked by a canal with excellent bike paths on both sides.

     If you’ve lasted this far to the end of my list, thanks so much for indulging me, and I hope you’ve also enjoyed some of my favorite little things!   

Comfy Spot

If I had to pick my comfy spot, this is the corner of the house that I would go to. This is a little space that we gained by ripping out the ceiling and extended it to the roofline. It is tucked up on top of the stairs overlooking the living room, with my husbands office the only real room up here. 

This is where I like to read my Bible in the mornings, and get refreshed for the day. I try to keep this spot “special” for that, but oftentimes about 15 stuffed animals and two kids are crammed in my lap and on the adjacent chair, and I like it that way! 😉 

This pillow cam from my sister in law from her mission time in India, and the tea set was carved in the Dominican Republic and reminds me of the three summers I spent there with SCORE International. I always rest my coffee cup on that corner, and like to look at the family wedding pictures, as we all live far apart now. 

This is the #comfyspot, and that box tucked on the window is ant killer to try and rescue us from the ant infestation the upstairs has been experiencing! Apparently it is their comfy spot too! hahaha 😉 

The Porch…Finally!

When the weather warms up, it’s time to get outside and our back porch becomes our #comfyspot. We enjoy coffee in the morning and dinner at night. We do have a TV out there to enjoy hanging out on summer evenings or fall football games! I found the cabinet that holds the TV at a thrift store, painted and frosted the glass.

Zoey thinks it’s comfy too! I hope you all are enjoying the start of summer!

Sunroom: Our Comfy Spot

Greetings from Minnesota!

My husband and I start each day in our sunroom, It’s our favorite room in our home because of the natural lighting that seems cheerful even on a gray day.

This is our #comfyspot with our favorite wingback chairs, that we purchased for our former home fifteen years ago. 

My grandpa built the rustic green potting bench many years ago. This shelf contains memories of our grandparents: framed photos and kitchen paraphernalia. 

The top shelf displays a few of my favorite children’s books about flowers,, a few plants, and souvenir sea shells from past vacations. These remind me that winter won’t last forever!

Finally, I keep a Burlington picnic basket stocked with dishes and a blanket, hoping that I can convince my husband to take a break from work and relax. The small basket holds our bird identification book and a pair of binoculars. Do you watch birds? We started marking the pages so we remember which birds we’ve seen before and which ones are new to us. The glass jar hold more cookie cutters – mine and my husband’s grandmothers. I love cookies, especially Molasses Crinkles from Betty Crocker. My grandparents used to dunk them in coffee and even had extra cookies to dunk and feed to their dog!

Happy Sunday!

Sunday is the only breakfast in our house that is not rushed, I work full time as a teaching assistant and my hubby works full time as a machine setter and my children are in full time school so weekend breakfast in our house is so important to our family. We try to eat together at all meals if possible to regroup and communicate and enjoy each other’s company. Have a great Sunday everyone! 

Amanda xoxo

Gallery Wall

Hello all! This is my first post here on HomeLoveStories, and I’m super excited to be here! 

So I’ve been in the process of adding items to this gallery wall for almost a year now. Everything (minus the plate which was purchased and added to the wall today) is a DIY project. I feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace with this wall, and I probably am. Obviously with the blank spaces it’s not done yet. However, every time I see this wall now that it’s coming together it makes me smile, and proud to have created this spot in my home.  #makeitpretty

“Make It Pretty” and Functional:  The Modest Sunroom

Finally my small sunroom is beautifized and functionalized. It is in use so I do not over-decorate.

*pillows: thrift store; the tag says Bombay Company

*painting; the original tag still says 1990 JC Penney $190 but thrif-store price was $15 and further reduced to $3; the frame was oak wood and I painted white with some wall paint on hand

*on the left of the photo you can see my freezer

*plate on the wall shelf: Goodwill store $1.99


What’s For Breakfast

A few days ago I shared my favorite breakfast treat. Although I love my weekly visit to a local bakery, a healthy breakfast at home is lovely too.  This bowl of oatmeal with blackberries and a sprinkle of granola was my breakfast this morning.

I’m not a big coffee drinker, although seeing some of the stories about coffee stations have made me wondering what I’ve been missing.  My ritual is tea.
Last week I found this teapot in an antique shop.  I fell in love with it and brought it home.  It’s a porcelain pot with a silver plated sleeve and hinged top. It was so unusual that I knew it had to have a story, so I did some research when I got home.  It is German from the 1930s-40s.  I love everyday items that have history so now when I use it each morning, I imagine that an American soldier must have brought it home from WWII.  A little dreaming at breakfast isn’t a bad way to start the day!

First Impressions: Before & After, The Kitchen Becomes the Entry!

This is what my current entry way used to look like – because we never had an entry, you used to walk straight into my dining room/kitchen.

 I know it’s a mess! I’’m being brave and showing it to you anyway. Maddie started pulling cabinets out while I was still trying to box things up! Storm damage construction isn‘t like planned construction, with storm damage everything has to happen at once.

 BTW see the lower left hand corner, where the floor is missing? That‘s because there used to be a stairway there, then after we moved the steps it was a temporary pantry. The whole wall around on the kitchen side was a chalkboard wall. Can’t you totally imagine it through the mess.

Can’t you??

   Maddie is practicing for her dream job, for realz, she wants to be a general contractor. She‘s planning on attending UNI and taking their Construction Management program. She says she loves the work but doesn’t want to take guff from the guys, so she’ll be their boss. :)   She‘s only 16 and a sophomore for now, so there is still time to change her mind.

     This is what it looks like now… it’s a work in progress. We still need trim, but that will have to wait until taxes get back because I am out of money. :)  Redoing a home is so expensive! So I‘m trying to decorate with what I have.

Here‘s a couple of things I had on hand. Keep scrolling down, it’s there I promise!

That collage is on a white background and squared up for instagram – but on a website it looks like I hit the enter button a few to many times. Any who, this is my grandmothers old sewing cabinet, and a door my mother found for me, and this is what it looks like now.

 I have yet to find the perfect mirror, but this one was free so it will do for now. :)

 I have already redecorated the top of the piano, again. :) 

I like the way the piano looks open, but little visitors keep having to pound the keys and I’m getting to old for that kind of noise, so I may have to close it. The photo above the piano is one I took when my youngest was 4 and the dog was 3, they are 13 and 12 now. I’m not sure if the photo is as good as I think it is or if I just love it so much because of what happened right after I snapped the shot. My daughter broke down and crying because she had “dog germs“ and I started laughing hysterically, because I’m evil like that.  

My youngest is also the piano player in the family so technically the piano is hers.  We are currently in a disagreement about it being painted, and beings I didn’t buy it I can’t even use the old parent fall back of “I paid for it. ” A close family friend, had friends that had a piano at a job site, and they were told to throw it away. He found out about it, drove two hours to pick it up and two hours home again and surprised us with it, so it has some sentimental value to her – I just wish it didn’t extend to what it looked like.

 So that’s what I have so far, I’ll update as things progress.


What’s For Breakfast

Hello! I’m here for the block party! Woo! But first can I just say, I am loving Home Love Stories. It has been so fun to see you all posting stories and getting to know each other. And getting a glimpse into each of your homes is so cool 🙂 I think my favorite part so far has been the ‘Help a Sister Out’ category. Sometimes you just need a second opinion! And I think this is the sweetest little community to ask.

Anyway 🙂 This is what was for breakfast yesterday. I made a smoothie bowl with fruit, my sister’s homemade granola, almonds and coconut. I’m thinking I might need to make that my summer go-to breakfast!


And there was also coffee of course! This is an older picture of the coffee station in the townhouse I rent from my sister and brother-in-law. We’ve changed up this coffee station a bit since this picture was taken. We have just a few more steps to go and then we’ll be sharing it on The Inspired Room!


But let’s be honest, if I could have one thing for breakfast every morning it would actually be this picture above.


The Fat Hen is the cutest little restaurant in Seattle, and it happens to have THEE BEST eggs benedict I’ve ever eaten. If you ever get the chance to go here, I beg of you to get the pancetta eggs benedict and add avocado. Truly, I beg.


Sadly that’s not what’s for breakfast today. But maybe next weekend 🙂 And in my dreams. Ha.


Smakelijk eten!

     Good morning! The sun’s out, so we get to enjoy a weekend breakfast in the sunroom. :-) Take a seat to chat over coffee, orange juice, a boiled egg, muesli, fresh fruit and toast with rhubarb preserves or honey…and if you really have a sweet tooth, I’ll pull out the jar of Nutella, too.

     The sunroom’s the only room in the house that I’ve filled with vibrant colors, and I love adding even more color on the tabletop. During springtime, I pull out my old set of silver-plated flatware with a daffodil pattern. It fondly reminds me of my mother as that was one of her favorite flowers, and it makes me all happy inside.

     As we say in the Flemish region of Belgium, “Smakelijk eten”! (That‘s Dutch for, “Enjoy your meal”.)


First Impressions

     Come on in! You’ve found yourself in the entryway of a typical Belgian farmhouse-style home built in the 1980s. Although I like the look of the house, my decor is rather eclectic and does not conger up the farmhouse feel. I struggle sometimes to bring coherency between the bones of the house and my design preference, but I’m pleased overall with what I’ve created.

     The decor in the entry hall includes old prints from travel destinations, an airplane replica, an art deco period cabinet and coat rack and an old round table.

     We use this old cabinet to store winter scarves, hats and gloves out of sight.  

     The daily mail gets plopped on this table. I’m in the process of reupholstering the chair seats. The chairs were made during the German Biedermeier period in the 1800s. I found them at a flea market in France. The original upholstery is a floral tapestry pattern, but I’m going to update them a bit with an art-deco pattern that includes, yes, airplanes…just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

     During this in-between season, our coat rack gets laden with both winter and spring jackets…and umbrellas in rainy Belgium.

     My mother-in-law gave me the floral arrangement sitting on the window sill.  The green milk vase is actually the base to an old lamp. She had the wiring removed and had a florist fill it with fake hydrangeas. Sometimes I replace the fake flowers with seasonal cut flowers or plants, but I have to set a saucer underneath to catch water that slowly drips from the hole where the electrical wire used to protrude!

     I hope you’ve enjoyed this #firstimpressions of my home.