I'm Nikki, a creative old soul who loves tea time, tip-toeing through gardens, mounds of books, swaying to records, watercolors, sunset walks with our three yorkies, and star-gazing with Paul. This blog carries snippets of my life with just us two (five with Rusty, Lucy, & Ethel) - I hope it brings you happiness as you snuggle in with something warm and delicious and begin reading. Enjoy, friends!

the blog!

If I had to choose:

Spring is Near

Hello sweet friends. It’s been a few months since I’ve popped on here – the beginning of this year has been difficult. With an extremely heavy heart we decided to close our little coding business/school, I lost an incredibly wonderful person in my life and I just haven’t been able to get over the shock of it all, and now the whole world is living in turmoil. I’ve had little motivation or desire to talk as much online. But spring has officially begun (at least through the calendar’s point of view) and it’s time for renewal and positivity.

(This is not to disregard the state that the world is in. I’m feeling it, I’m sure you all are. But I can only handle so much negativity in my head and heart before I begin to shut down and simply go through the motions. Right now where I’m sitting, the sun is out and I can hear the birds through my window. I would like to reflect those two happy things and therefore will try to keep this blog post on the chipper side.)

Like I said, spring has officially begun. I’ve always been a fan of this season. The world becomes alive again; birds come out in droves, smothering the bare branches letting us all know they’re back for the year; green buds begin to pop out of the most unlikely places; I can smell the delicious scent of dirt and mud whenever I let Rusty out and in, which results in little muddy footprints dancing on my kitchen floor; the sun makes dappled artwork on my walls for longer periods of time; and gardening can finally begin!

In between the times of sadness that we’ve had this year, Paul and I have been putting more effort into taking care of our 110-year-old home. We have plans to someday live in a much smaller house (ours right now is about 1500 sq ft but we’d like something under 1000) and we know that in order to manage that we need to downsize our belongings.

Our basement isn’t a finished basement. It is your typical cement-floored and stone-walled area where scary movies may have taken place at one point. And it is filled with lots of boxes, most with unknown items. I’m not proud to admit it, but when Paul and I moved from our apartment to our first house eight years ago, we didn’t technically unpack everything. And then when we moved from our first house to this house, we, again, didn’t technically unpack everything. So, the unpacking finally began the other week. We found things we didn’t remember getting, papers from school we didn’t remember writing. We found childhood items that brought back many memories, and family treasures we just couldn’t part with.

I went through the kitchen cabinets and dining room while Paul went through more unopened boxes in the spare bedroom. Donation boxes were packed with dishes we didn’t need, mugs we never used, and other kitchen contraptions we didn’t really need. It’s just the two of us, something we had to keep reminding ourselves.

My family was able to go through all of those boxes when we last got together, and whatever was leftover was donated. There’s still garbage bags downstairs that we have yet to toss and a few more unopened boxes in our own bedroom. My office closet could get gutted, too. It feels good knowing what we actually own, and using what we actually own. I guess you could say we already started our Spring Cleaning? :)

As you may have seen in my last post, the dining room got a sprucing up with bold blue walls (it feels so regal). The kitchen also got a little bit of love – the entryway was painted (and to be honest I never finished, but I will, especially now that we’re at home more often) and the pantry and corner hutch was painted. The upstairs hallway and landing was painted, all that’s left is the stairway walls (I need a tall ladder for the high ceiling and am a bit nervous doing that job…), our bedroom was painted (again, I have a tiny bit left to finish), and Paul has his staircase project that’s still going on. We’re planning on fixing up the wood underneath the carpet on the stairs and upstairs hallway and then re-carpeting the office and our bedroom. We haven’t made much progress on that project, but like I said, this year has already thrown us for a loop so it’s been low on the priority list.

(That little lump is Rusty refusing to get out of bed.)

I received good feedback from stores about my 2020 calendar – they’re wanting them earlier (by June) so I’ve been trying to focus on finishing the calendar to meet the new deadline. The 2021 calendar is all about this darling state of Minnesota. I’m having lots of fun figuring out themes for each month – they’re each different in their own lovely way. For example, February is a love of history and reading month, devoted to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Schulz, Laura Ingalls, and others, while July is all about being at the lake and cabin for the 4th of July. Some months are about certain cities, and others are about animals of Minnesota or plants of Minnesota. I’m enjoying it and I hope you will too, friend! I’ll be starting the pre-ordering option much sooner than last year because I need to make sure I have enough for the stores that want to sell it. I’ll keep you posted! :)

What else can I tell you?

Rusty turned eight a couple of weeks ago! Can you believe it? He’s still able to make a bad day into a good day just by being his usual self. He still loves to lie in front of the heater or in a patch of sunlight. He still is a picky eater (like his mother) and will do just about anything for a treat. He still sneezes and smiles when he’s excited and spoons us when he sleeps. He’s the bee’s knees, what more can I say?

Since the universe is a bit topsy-turvy lately, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to throw something else in the mix. I’ve been creating a book, dear friends. It has been on my mind for about the last eight years, although I’ve been wanting to write a book for as long as I can remember. It’s been difficult to navigate exactly how it will all come together, so I’ve been creating it page by page, hoping by the end it will make sense. It’s not a novel or anything of deep substance, but it’s the type of book I would like to read so maybe others will too? It’ll have lots of lovely illustrations and quotes, little stories of life with just us two, and other pieces of happiness within the pages. Basically it’ll be a little bit similar to this blog and the calendar but in book form. What do you think, friends?

The Easter season is upon us which means my great-grandma’s famous Easter Pizza recipe will come out of hiding for the next few weeks (she is the same adorable cook on the February page of my 2020 calendar). If you’ve never heard of it, it’s simply an Italian version of a quiche, full of pepperoni, ham, cheeses, eggs, and other things you might like to add (I add pastrami and salami) baked into a pie crust with lattice topping. It’s delicious hot, warm, even cold. It’s the perfect meal for this type of scenario – make a few and throw them in the freezer (something I’ll be doing as soon as I’m done writing to you). I look forward to this food all year, as does most of my family. Do you have traditional foods from your family you’ve been looking forward to making/eating? Now’s the time to indulge, don’t you think? :)

Speaking of Easter, it lands on my birthday this year! I’m turning 31 and yet I still have a hard time believing I’m 30. Paul will be 33 towards the end of April and yet he still seems like the 21-year-old I met all those years ago (in a good way). It’s fun to grow old with him. I can’t complain about life with him. Just a couple of best friends who get to be married, too. I brought up the idea of building a fort with couch cushions and blankets last night as we watched Serendipity (I needed a happy movie last night and he willingly obliged) – we may make one once the evenings begin to feel more monotonous. I’ll keep you posted.

I feel like I’ve talked your ear off. I’ve just been doing my best to find and share the happy things – I hope you leave here feeling a bit lighter on your feet. :) I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy, able to escape reality for just a little bit to enjoy the things you love the most. I’ll continue painting and cooking and holding Rusty like the baby he still is. And I’ll keep you posted on the latest calendar and hopefully more progress being made on my little book. Cheers to you, dear friends! xoxo

  1. Pamela Welter says:

    Hi Nikki,
    I’m sorry for your loss and hope your heart will find comfort and healing. It seems to be a time of many losses right now and we are going through new feelings every day and missing ways of living.
    It was nice to come here and see your spring photographs and musings. I love the rainbow-colored quote by Longfellow. So beautiful!
    I gifted your calendar to a friend last Christmas and we connected this month when we turned the page to the giraffes and stars. We enjoyed the birthdays you had on there – Dr. Suess AND Mr. Rogers, Michaelangelo AND Einstein, Pearl Bailey. . .what a genius month!
    For sure, I will be buying your 2021 Minnesota calendar and sharing it with a friend! It is inspiring and fun!
    I would also be the first in line to have your book. I know it will be full of delights and memorable stories and whimsical drawings to enjoy!
    How interesting it must have been for you to see your childhood handwriting and thoughts about “how my family is special”. So tender and sweet. . . .I remembered my family as I read it and the people and pets that were and are dear to me.
    I wish you a lovely spring and Easter *~*~*~*~*~*~*

  2. Andy says:

    Writing a book is a great idea!!! Glad you’re enjoying Spring and trying to block out the chaos. :)

  3. Nana says:

    As usual I love it. I also am glad to hear that you are starting to write that book..Love you more

  4. Ellen says:

    Always lovely to hear how you are doing! We should try to get together when the world has gotten back to normal.

    P.S. I love the idea of a book written by you!

    • Gwen Larson says:

      I am so glad I took the time to read this. It’s just what I needed. A book, you say? YES!!! I would love to read your book. It will be one huge letter written just to me as I become so absorbed in your writings. I always want more. This is exactly what we need… a little more of…YOU! I can’t wait!!!