Diane Streicher

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After twenty fantastic years devoted to homeschooling my four daughters, I'm ready to see what else life has to offer!
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Better Late Than Never

I’m a bit late to the #aroundthetable party, but…well, you know what they say.

“Better late than never” also applies to my new dining room table. This DIY baby was built just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving Dinner 2014, but I’m still waiting for warmer weather so I can complete the final sanding and finishing steps outside. 

The hoop back chairs are handmade gems from the 80s.

The old cupboard dates to the 1800s. We rescued it from the dusty corner of an Ohio barn and carried it, my husband and I, up two flights of stairs to our first apartment. Took us well over an hour to manage its massive weight and ungainly shape around the tight corners of the stairwell. 

The triangles on the walls come straight from the fertile imagination of Mandi at Vintage Revivals.

And the daffodils are purely the glory of spring. 

A Gallery Wall For My Girls

What to do when my vision for a simple gallery wall is threatened by an ugly thermostat? You might be surprised with my decision. I’m so happy with how it turned out!

* * * * *

Since I’ve received feedback that the link I originally shared in this story does not work reliably, I have brought my original post over here to Home Love Stories…please enjoy!

^ Here‘s the view from just inside the front door. Ta daaa!


^ Brazenly, the thermostat has been located smack dab in the middle of the arrangement. This may sound like a counter-intuitive way to deal with ugly, but the thermostat seems to fade into the composition of white frames, and I don‘t notice it so much anymore. Yay!

^ The focal point of the arrangement is intended to be my four daughters‘ photos, but some simple, supporting-character pieces of art were needed to round out the grouping. I opted for quiet, gold-on-white pieces that reinforce the story of my girls. This four-by-four grid of dots reflects the offspring head count as well as my obsession with perfect squares. 
 I have no idea what the gold moose represents. I just found him lying around and thought he looked like he belonged.

^ A heart. Because love is always good.

^ A big numeral four and a scripty list of names – for the days when I forget – round out the collection.

^ And while I will be the first to admit that the grouping is simple and understated, I must confess that it‘s exactly what I was hoping for. I love this gallery wall for my girls!

The Pursuit Of Pretty

In the deepest, darkest corner of my family room stands a white bookcase.

Round things fascinate me. Can you tell?

It‘s been there for years. Decades even. And the contents of the shelves have evolved over time. 

Crawling babies routinely emptied rows of board books from the lower shelves. 

Girl Scout handbooks, songbooks, and a sizable stash of field guides, camping tips, and craft books lived here for a time. 

Let‘s not forget the astronomy books, dinosaur guides, atlases, maps, medical dictionaries and copies of the United States Constitution. 

And a herd of photo albums documenting the glory days of my daughters‘ childhoods have held a long-standing place of honor.

I made that little yellow dog out of clay in an art class many years ago. While I worked on him, my fourth-born created a tiny black cat which sits on the bookshelf in her dorm room at this very moment.

Of course, like every other nook and cranny of my home, I‘ve organized and tidied and reconfigured this area countless times.
But this hardworking bookcase served a long-standing role as a no-nonsense repository of our family‘s resource and reference materials. 

No frills. 
No fuss. 
And no fooling around.

 A particularly random cross-section of my literary interests.
Until last month. When, out of nowhere, my brain leaped into hyper drive and produced an entirely new and profoundly radical idea. 

What if, I pondered, instead of using this bookcase for practical and efficient storage, I threw practicality to the wind and just made it straight up pretty?

The bookends belonged to my father-in-law, and are made of petrified wood. 

Mhmmm. You can guess what happened next. An irresistible urge to color block swept through my soul and compelled me to immediate action.

Yellow books make me smile. 
I can‘t help it. They are so darn cute. 

Within ten minutes, my family room looked like the aftermath of a tornado. 

Teetering stacks of books covered every available horizontal surface. 

At first, my goal was simply to empty the shelves for a good cleaning. Then, the notion of color blocking became an irresistible ideal. First, I played my own version of literary Jenga by pulling certain colored books out of my wobbling stacks, and then I dashed around the house, raiding other bookshelves for volumes that would match. 

I‘m not going to lie. That was such a fun afternoon.

Gilgamesh is an epic poem considered to be the first great literary work in history. It‘s surprisingly readable, and full of action. I highly recommend it. 

Lest I come across as completely shallow, let me note that to make the cut to my stacks, a book must meet my color criteria, to be sure. 

But it has to be a good read, too. 

I made no rules about content. Fiction and nonfiction, children‘s novels and business handbooks, ancient literature and hiking guides; all comers are welcome on my shelf as long as they suit my fancy. 

When I found the aluminum vase, it was stuffed full of tiny fake evergreen branches. But why??? Thrifting can be so weird. 

And yes, several trips to the thrift store were needed to fill in the gaps. Which led me to start a collection of sassy vases, and a fledgling collection of 20th century works in their original covers. I might be obsessed with that concept now.

When I was in high school, we read The Little Prince in Spanish class. El Principito. I‘m still looking for a copy to keep company with my English edition. 

And then, somehow, our old Game Cube made an appearance, and I was inspired all over again. Pretty sure I‘ve got some components from my college-era sound system lying around somewhere, and they might make a nice addition to the arrangement. A trip to the attic heads up my weekend to-do list.

I took these photos twenty-four hours ago, and they are already obsolete. Sigh. 

As one thing leads to another and another, I get the distinct feeling that my bookcase transformation is far from complete. 
Because seriously. When is a styling project ever done? 

Never. That‘s when. 

I expect that my pursuit of pretty will be raging on for quite some time to come.

 I‘m happy to report that no dogs were crushed by falling towers of books during this project.


You Know You Love Me

I have a weird obsession with scraps. 

When I‘m messing around with my art, I never know what little snip or snap might eventually come in handy. So I take the prudent course. 

Every cast-off trimming is carefully protected and added to my you-never-know pile.

And while I continue to work on my main project, my eyes often wander back to that unassuming little heap, sifting through the odds and ends and imagining what they might become. 

Some days, I get nothing, and end up sweeping the whole mess into the recycling at the end of my work session. 

But other times, I hit the jackpot.

Yesterday was one of the good days. 

I might be in love with this tiny Valentine banner, fashioned from: 

leftover scraps of pink and red painted paper 
brown paper grocery bags used as drop cloths for a gold-spray painting project, 
and rejected bits of baker‘s twine. 

Kind of obsessed with the bright bursts of intense color against the lush gold backgrounds. 

Plus, every time I see this darling little frollop of festive fun, I hear a soft, familiar voice purring in my ear: 

You know you love me. XOXO Gossip Girl

Ranger, you know you love me. 
And I love you…even more than Chuck Bass loves Blair.

A Cure For Curve Balls

One set of my white bowls is in the dishwasher, but even three stacks out of four are enough to make my heart sing.

We all have days and weeks like this. Sometimes, months or even years. 

When life throws curve balls on every pitch. 

When complications mount up to overwhelm the day‘s plans. When the ebbs and flows of daily life just don‘t go our way. 

I’ve been a bit of a roll this week. 

My mom‘s in the hospital. 
My car needs new brakes. 
My third-born required some emergency help from me with finances. 
Several of my students are struggling with their lessons. 
I‘m still dealing with doctors‘ appointments. 
And even my dog, Ranger, is having medical drama. More tumors on his little red rump.

Only the essentials are allowed to sit out on the counter these days: salt, pepper, olive oil, and art.
I‘m not too worried about any of this. These seasons of chaos have blown throw my world before, and I know that, in time, all will sort itself out and life will eventually calm down. 

I have no doubt. 

In the meantime, I will admit that I am: 

keyed up and jumpy. 
stretched way too thin 
and just plain stressed out. 

However, all is not lost. I know exactly how to deal with these edgy and exhausting emotions. 

I clean my kitchen.

I‘ve been obsessed with keeping the top of my salt shaker 
free of any stray grains. 
 I know. Super neurotic. But it beats biting my nails. 

Keeping up with the dishes. 
Wiping down counters. 
Maintaining my winter minimalist mode. 

These simple steps soothe my stressful soul and calm my jangled nerves. 

And let‘s be honest. A tidy kitchen makes every day better. 

Even the crazy, complicated, curve ball days.

Late Winter Mash-Up

I spy with my little eye a tiny silver Christmas bauble.

It might be nice to be a straight arrow. 

You know, the kind of person who tackles one challenge a time and sees each task through from beginning to end before moving on to the next. 

But that is totally not me. I‘m a a bit more of a plate spinner; I usually find myself with a handful of ideas taking shape and multiple projects in motion, and I definitely enjoy the creative chaos of bouncing back and forth between them at my own whim. 

My house is a perfect reflection of this nonlinear behavior. Just in the little corner of my kitchen captured above, my post-Christmas neutrals sit quietly in the background near a throng of vibrant Valentines and a burst of spring‘s yellow forsythia. In other rooms, paper snowflakes and wintry silver garlands still stream from the ceilings; a Happy New Year banner adorns my dining room wall, and a tiny silver tinsel tree glows from the corner. 

This is no accident. Though specific seasons may come and go, each one of these small celebratory touches still speaks to me and I gladly embrace them. My home is a happy mash-up of different mid-winter moods that may not reflect perfection, but is a perfect representation of me.