DIY Yardstick Shelf + the Philosophy of a Handmade Home

I’m the kinda gal who goes stationery shopping with the intention of picking out a birthday card for a friend and winds up buying cards with cute art for myself. While I just splurged on buying a super cute cacti princess canvas over at Society6, greeting cards and postcards are more typically the type of art I can afford. Yardsticks are a nifty way to put the cards on display. All you need are a couple of nails to hang it up.

It's so simple, yet creates character and adds a lot of charm to a room. The pic below is the one I put up in my office, it always catches the eye of my coworkers. I have one at home too, over the headboard in my bedroom. I'm trying to decide where to put one up in my living room. 

skinny shelf.JPG

I found this DIY hack in the book Simple Home by Mark and Sally Bailey. I fell in love with not only the yardstick shelf but their whole philosophy of taking the time to curate a handmade home. This was such a timely read for me since I just moved from a teeny tiny studio into a large apartment. It’s quite tempting to rush out and buy everything I need for the new place, but I know I won’t be happy with the end result.

I love this quote from Simple Home, “Make sure that absolutely everything in your home has a place in your heart. Don't save your good taste for books and paintings; everyday items such as soft, fluffy piles of towels in the bathroom or the mug you drink your morning coffee from can bring you joy. In this way, the simple act of opening a cupboard can make you smile."

That is the home I want to create.

Marie Kondo in her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, reaffirms this idea that things you own should be a source of joy. 

Curating a home of handmade goods and decorating with objects that have memories attached to them is a simple way to bring joy into the home. Handmade things have stories to tell. Stories about who made them and how they were crafted. Objects like photos or sea shells collected from a trip to the beach are tied to happy memories and we can relive those moments of joy each time we look at them.

That is what I love about creating a shelf from a yardstick. It’s so simple and makes me really happy. And unlike a framed piece of art, the shelf is versatile. I can rotate my display of cards to change with the season or the next time I bring a card home from the stationery store.

Mark and Sally Bailey are the authors of several books on the art of home decorating. I just ordered Handmade Home and can't wait to stumble on a copy of Recycled Home at a used bookstore. 

Bay Area Plant Nurseries

Long before I ever imagined living in the bay, I had dreams of visiting Flora Grubb gardens in San Francisco. I discovered this magical botanical wonderland on Far Out Flora, one of the best garden blogs on the web, especially if you love succulents. I have yet to go, but I am currently making weekend plans to do so very very soon. I'm hoping to take home a staghorn fern and/or a fiddle leaf fig. I hope I can afford both!

Now that I'm a bay area transplant (couldn't resist the pun), I added a few more plant nurseries to my bucket list. Some of which I've had the pleasure of already exploring. Since I plan to turn my sunny west facing apartment into a little jungle, I'll be spending quite a bit of time visiting all of the garden shops in the area. So far, these are the ones on my list:

Bay Area Plant Nurseries

Beautiful! Great selection of pots, all sizes, for both inside and out. For a small fee they will even pot up the plants for you. Lots of lovely botanical themed trinkets inside, great for gift giving. They also had the biggest air plant I've ever seen, I'm talking two-feet tall with a one-foot diameter. HUGE. 

Before we left, we stopped for a cup of coffee at the small Highwire outpost inside the garden shop and LOVED the feel of the ceramic cups so much we asked who made them. The coffee shop guys were happy to tell us they came from Heath's ceramics. We promptly ordered a set online for ourselves. (These cups are handmade in California and for the month of February, they are donating 1% of their sales to the ACLU.)

Hands down the best place to find houseplants in Berkeley. They have all shapes and sizes. I actually bought a flower pot from Flowerland and took it to Westbrae Nursery to match it with a plant. After settling on a croton, Westbrae even potted it up for me for just $3. This was my second visit, the first time around I went home with a dwarf snake plant and a small zz plant. This time I meant to take home a staghorn fern, but I got so excited about the croton I totally spaced on the fern. Next time.

This is actually a bookstore in the historic Elmwood district of Berkeley. A fellow book lover recommended the store to me and I was so happy when I went in to discover that it's part bookstore part garden shop. It's an absolutely beautiful store. I initially went in looking for greeting cards (independent bookstores have the best stationary). I didn't have enough time to look over all the shelves, but the garden nook caught my eye. Instead of buying cards, I picked out the cutest little white flower pot. I can't wait to go back again and see what's new.

While this is technically a botanical garden, it belongs on the list because of the beautiful gift shop. I wanted to buy so many things, but only left with a card featuring the 125th Anniversary print of a black cat amongst green foliage. I wanted to buy and frame the poster, which my friend has done and it looks fabulous in her home, but I sent the card version I bought of it to my grandma whose a fellow plant enthusiast. The shop also has a small selection of outdoor plants, but it's primarily a garden themed gift shop.

As a house warming gift, a friend of mine gave me a copy of This is Oakland, a photographic guide to the best shops and restaurants in the area. Crimson Horticultural Rarities jumped out of the pages at me. I've yet to visit this shop, but have studied it in the pages of the book and have drooled over the pictures on their website. I can't wait to discover all of the plants in this shop and take one home with me.

This shop has it all and if you can't find what you're looking for, you can create it at the potting bencha do it yourself potting station inside the nursery. I can imagine myself spending the entire day looking at plants, picking out my favorites, and then trying to find the best flower pot for each. Like Flowerland, this nursery also has a cafe inside. 

What's on your bucket list?

Reactionary Reading Book Club

Last month, I wrote a post in response to Trump winning the election. While giving money to the ACLU, marching on Washington, and writing your representatives are excellent and worthwhile pursuits, as a reader, I couldn't help but recommend more books.

It's nice when our politicians protect the best interest of the people, but when they fail to do so, the responsibility falls on you and me. Since I turn to books for knowledge and guidance, one reactionary reading list simply won't do. That's why I'm starting a Reactionary Reading Book Club. 

This is an anything goes sort of book club. Instead of selecting one book a month to read and discuss, I encourage all of you to visit the current affairs section of your local bookstore or library and pick up a book that interests you. I'll share what I'm reading in monthly blog posts and I'd love for you to share what you're reading in the comments. I hope together we can spark discussions and connect with other conscientious readers.

My top picks from January:

"Award-winning journalist Hannah Nordhaus tells the remarkable story of John Miller, one of Americas foremost migratory beekeepers, and the myriad and mysterious epidemics threatening American honeybee populations. In luminous, razor-sharp prose, Nordhaus explores the vital role that honeybees play in American agribusiness, the maintenance of our food chain, and the very future of the nation. With an intimate focus and incisive reporting, in a book perfect for fans of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and John McPhee's Oranges, Nordhauss stunning exposé illuminates one the most critical issues facing the world today,offering insight, information, and, ultimately, hope."

"In this illuminating biography, Andrea Wulf brings Humboldt’s extraordinary life back into focus: his prediction of human-induced climate change; his daring expeditions to the highest peaks of South America and to the anthrax-infected steppes of Siberia; his relationships with iconic figures, including Simón Bolívar and Thomas Jefferson; and the lasting influence of his writings on Darwin, Wordsworth, Goethe, Muir, Thoreau, and many others. Brilliantly researched and stunningly written, The Invention of Nature reveals the myriad ways in which Humboldt’s ideas form the foundation of modern environmentalism—and reminds us why they are as prescient and vital as ever."

"NO LOGO was an international bestseller and "a movement bible" (The New York Times).  Naomi Klein's second book, The Shock Doctrine, was hailed as a "master narrative of our time," and has over a million copies in print worldwide. In the last decade, No Logo has become an international phenomenon and a cultural manifesto for the critics of unfettered capitalism worldwide.  As America faces a second economic depression, Klein's analysis of our corporate and branded world is as timely and powerful as ever. Equal parts cultural analysis, political manifesto, mall-rat memoir, and journalistic exposé, No Logo is the first book to put the new resistance into pop-historical and clear economic perspective.  Naomi Klein tells a story of rebellion and self-determination in the face of our new branded world. "

"Empty Hands is the inspiring memoir of Zulu nurse and healthcare activist Sister Abegail Ntleko. Growing up poor in a rural village with a father who didn't believe in educating girls, against seemingly insurmountable odds Sister Abegail earned her nursing degree and began work as a community nurse and educator, dedicating her life to those in need. Overcoming poverty and racism within the apartheid South African system, she adopted her first child at a time when it was unheard of to do so. And then she did it again and again. In forty years she has taken in and cared for hundreds of children who had nothing, saving babies—many of them orphans whose parents died of AIDS—from hospitals that were ready to give up on them and let them die. Empty Hands describes the harshness of Ntleko's circumstances with wit and wisdom in direct, beautifully understated prose and will appeal not only to activists and aid workers, but to anyone who believes in the power of the human spirit to rise above suffering and find peace, joy, and purpose."

"Pulitzer Prize–winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson was born in 1947 into upper-crust black Chicago. Her father was head of pediatrics at Provident Hospital, while her mother was a socialite. In these pages, Jefferson takes us into this insular and discerning society: “I call it Negroland,” she writes, “because I still find ‘Negro’ a word of wonders, glorious and terrible.” Negroland’s pedigree dates back generations, having originated with antebellum free blacks who made their fortunes among the plantations of the South. It evolved into a world of exclusive sororities, fraternities, networks, and clubs—a world in which skin color and hair texture were relentlessly evaluated alongside scholarly and professional achievements, where the Talented Tenth positioned themselves as a third race between whites and “the masses of Negros,” and where the motto was “Achievement. Invulnerability. Comportment.” At once incendiary and icy, mischievous and provocative, celebratory and elegiac, Negroland is a landmark work on privilege, discrimination, and the fallacy of post-racial America."

For more recommendations, check out the Reactionary Reading Book Club. Don't forget to share what you've been reading in the comments. I'm always on the lookout for book recommendations and I'd love to hear from you. And if you're into cats, you'll love this