Our Little House

Home Renovation, Personal

Sprial-Staircase---Amy-Sia
We’ve now owned our house for just over three years and it’s still far from looking like the home we want it to. There are a lot of factors that have contributed to this, e.g. the fact that it’s divided into two completely separate 600sf apartments (upstair/downstairs) with only outdoor stairs; it’s also a 1919 little craftsman cottage, and though the electrical has been redone, that’s really about it. Shortly after moving in we redid the upstairs bathroom because it was just awful, and we love it (it’s now white and black subway tile, black walls and hexagon floors); we loved it so much we stopped all remodeling after that!

The biggest challenge in deciding what to do with our house has really laid on the fact that it’s divided. We had thought of remodeling both apartments, renting them out, and hopefully moving somewhere with a little more space, but when the City informed us that we weren’t actually supposed to have two apartments, and that whoever did that did it without a permit *insert frustrated sigh here*, it kinda of really threw us off balance.
After about three months of trying to figure out what to do and sitting down with our favourite architect, we realised that there was only one option: making it one 1200sf house. Though it was frustrating that all of a sudden we were forced into one option, it did provide some clarity. After all, we do live in a great neighborhood: we’re pretty much smack down the middle of town, down the street from the river and one of the best parks in the city (which will be handy for when kiddies come along), and from what I hear, a great school district (again, for when kiddies come along).

We’re still trying to figure it out, but the gist of it *insert super excited face here* is putting in a spiral staircase, making a master bedroom downstairs with a walk-in closet (can I get an Amen?!), converting the old living room into a small bedroom, the old bedroom would become a landing and hang out area. The upstairs would remain pretty much the same, the bedroom will be an office/guest crashing quarters, and eventually we’ll redo the kitchen because God knows it needs it!

Of course, this is all going to take a while, we like to do things mostly debt free which means that sometimes things take twice as long and we also want to make sure we LOVE everything we do, but now we have direction! And below you can see my inspiration (it’s mostly decor, but you see where I’m going with it)….

Heylen-Thienes---Home-Renovation-Inspiration

I would love to know what your favourite home decor and remodeling blogs are, or send me your pinterest board links, I’m ready for ideas and inspiration!

XO
H

PS: If you’d like to follow the remodeling journey or just keep in touch, hit me up on Instagram!
Pictures credits starting from the top: Amy Sia, Garance Dore, New York Times.

To Put My Money Where My Mouth Is…

Personal

When making my tea towels last year, I really wanted to make sure they were of good quality. And it made me realize that I don’t always shop quality.

Over the past few months I’ve been meeting new and interesting people that are really challenging me and the way I think, especially when it comes what I stand for. Something that has really stood out to me is that I don’t always “put my money where my mouth is”.

It all came about like this: I needed a new pair of jeans, and after doing some research (and being heavily influenced by their recent ad campaign), I decided that I needed Madewell jeans. After buying them, my brother-in-law and I started talking about how paying the extra $50-$80 was totally worth it because Madewell probably made better quality clothing, treated its workers better, and possibly didn’t make their clothes in a sweatshop.

And then it dawned on me.

I am so misinformed. I have no idea what I’m talking about. Price difference does not equal quality or ethics in production. It simply means that I’m paying for exclusivity.  Just look at Anthropologie.  Their clothes are a just grown up, more expensive version of Urban Outfitters’.

It brought to my attention how little I know about a subject I supposedly really care about. For example, did you know that we only spend 3% of our annual income on clothes compared to 15% post WW2?* We’re spending less yet buying and throwing away more (because it either goes out of fashion or only lasts three washes).

My shopping habits may have changed due to the limited shopping options in Bend, but I’m still shopping quantity and not quality.  I don’t do enough research about how things are made or where they were made. We all know about the the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh where over a thousand people died, but we (or rather I) choose to ignore it, brushing it under the carpet so that I can continue shopping guiltless at H&M, Primark and GAP.

 

So what to do? My answer? Research. That’s my goal for this year, if there’s something I care about, I need to do my research, and take action. Follow through with what I say I stand for.

 

I’m going to begin by choosing quality over quantity, even if it means spending a little more.  Buy more clothes that will stand the test of fashion trends rather than buying the $7 pleather skirt on sale, that quite honestly I’m not sure I’ll wear again. Look for companies that are truly making a difference in this area, or at least making an effort to.

I’m not sure how that’ll make a difference, and perhaps I’m being naive by thinking that it could make a difference.  But maybe if I choose to support companies that support a healthy and sustainable production process, maybe those companies will grow enough to act as an example for others? Just maybe.

We’re all making New Year’s resolutions right now, and I’m making these mine:  To put my money where my mouth is, to research and know what I stand for. To make things and change happen and build for the future, not just for now.

What are your new year’s resolutions? And what are your favourite ethical companies to shop at?

 

Further reading:

*OVERDRESSED: THE SHOCKINGLY HIGH COST OF CHEAP FASHION by Elizabeth Cline

In the Wilderness

Adventure, oregon, Personal, Photography

IMG_7503.JPG

 

Last week I spent seven days in the Malheur National Forest camping. Seven days. No cell reception. No wifi. Not even a landline. Camping.  That is the longest amount of time I have spent, 1. camping, and 2. without any outside communication since I can ever remember.

It was a time spent with family, chatting, hiking, eating and playing Old Mexico.

Since there wasn’t facebook or instagram to distract us we were able to focus our attention on one another, and head to bed earlier and wake up way earlier than usual. This meant I got to see seven sunrises, some I saw with Seth by my side, others on my own.

I always hear people talking about quiet time, but up until this trip, I had never truly realized the importance of being quiet. At rest with my thoughts. Disconnected. It’s amazing the things you can observe and hear (or not hear) once you shut everything else off.  I learnt to listen to and recognize the sounds of the wilderness, deer running, coyotes howling, and a black bear creeping – trying to go unnoticed.

How much time do we honestly take to do this? To have absolute quiet time and gather or expel our recurring thoughts. We don’t. I don’t. This trip showed me how I’m letting the noise clog up my life, leading me to feel disillusioned and ending in a game of constant comparison.

I’m not where I want to be.

Am I failing at my calling?

Is this even my calling?!

Pointless, and hindering little thoughts.

These are some of the things I struggle with as a result of the daily noise. & sometimes it takes a trip into the wilderness to separate the important stuff from the trivial, what really matters and bring things back to perspective.

So today I’m encouraging you to take a trip to the wilderness – whatever that means to you. & then tell me how it went.

When Friends Fall in Love

Passion Project, Personal, Photography

Kat + Cam

It’s a wonderful thing watching your friends fall in love.  I have known Kat for about 7 years now, and over the last 3.5 years (the time I’ve lived in the States) we’ve gotten to know each other even more, talking about life, work, marriage and everything in between.

Kat and Cameron have known each other since college, they’ve always been great friends. But after spending last summer in Europe together something changed, and all of a sudden a different conversation was taking place.  There were some logistics that needed to be dealt with, she was here in Bend, and he was in Hong Kong.  And a 13hr time difference that meant extra effort to make it work. But they did it. And when Cam moved back to the States this summer, he didn’t waste any time in asking her to be his bride… and so he put a ring on her finger and they set a date.

IMG_7530

I’m so excited for these two, and it was so much fun taking their pictures. Kat knows I’m not a pro, but like taking pictures so she asked me to do their engagement shoot since their wedding photographer is in Hawaii.  My skills have a long way to go, but it sure is a privilege and a hell of a lot of fun to be able to use them for things like this.

Eli + Jana: An Engagement Shoot

Passion Project, Personal, Photography

IMG_7180 copy

I am not a professional photographer. Nor do I claim to be one. But I don’t think it’s a secret that I love taking pictures.  Over the last two years I’ve stopped taking so many because the idea of spending hours editing all of them just became overwhelming. But when my brother-in-law and his fiancee asked me to take theirs, I just couldn’t say no. And it was SO much fun! We got there a little late for the ‘golden hour’, but we got some pretty good shots.

I shared their story of how they got engaged last month and posted their wedding mood board, so it would be just rude to not share their engagement pics… how happy do they look?!

IMG_7118

IMG_7098

Turning Twenty Eight

Personal

ht-turning-28-1

Yesterday I turned twenty eight.  And unlike last year, this year I was (am) excited to be turning a year older.  To be planning for the future and realising that entering the end of my twenties isn’t at all as scary as I thought it would be, and that I am exactly where I need to be.

I think sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to overachieve by an early age.  When I look at girls like Becky Murphy, Jessica Comingore, and Promise Tangeman, it’s hard to not feel like a failure because I didn’t bloom in my early/mid 20s.  One of the most important lessons this past year has taught me, was that we all bloom at different times: did you know that Lebanese Cedars produce seed cones every two years and it takes them twelve months to mature from their pollination? Success – personal or professional – does not happen overnight, but over time. And comparison doesn’t get you anywhere. I take my hat off to these amazing ladies because they are super sweet, and super talented and figured out what they were crazy passionate about early on.

 I was always the youngest everywhere I went, and it was tiring. I felt like I needed to keep up, didn’t know enough or just lost.  Now I’m beginning to enjoy being just me, the right age at the right time.  The last twelve months have been incredible and challenging (incredibly challenging too actually).  I have met so many amazing people and learnt things about myself (in my personal and professional life) that I couldn’t have dreamt of.

ht-turning28-2

I have deemed twenty seven the year of the rock foundation, setting things up for the future.  In the midst of everything, including the highs and the lows and I can see how the challenges of last year are preparing me for the future: beginning to think about a family, starting to work on our home, growing the business. Thus I’m calling twenty eight the year of building… we’ll see how it goes.

I’m ecstatic to see how this year goes, what surprises God has in store and I’ll need to remember that the challenges will continue to come, but if I put don’t wood in the fire, it’ll go out (Prov: 26:20).

Some of this past year’s highlights:

+ Going back to London in October

+ Watching my sister get married at sunset in Costa Rica

+ Driving from Southern California with my best friend aka my husband

+ Working under my own name

+ Going to Vegas & LA with one of my best friends

+ Getting my own studio space

+ Backpacking with my brother-in-law and his fiancee

+ Finding out my parents are coming to visit me

+ Spending my birthday with my husband in the woods, camping (yes – it’s possible even if you’re a whole30 diet), driving, floating and listening to Cherry Bombe’s podcasts!

What are some of the things you’ve learnt as you’ve gotten older?

ht-turning28-3

 

An Adventure + An Engagement

Adventure, Personal, The Outdoors, Travel

ht_wakingup.jpg

Just over a year ago my brother in law started hanging out with this pretty awesome girl called Jana. Pretty soon we all knew she was the ‘one’.  Not just the ‘one’ he was going to date, but the ‘one’ he was going to be with… like, forever. But sometimes when we’re the midst of things it’s so easy to not realize that the other person feels the same way about us as we do about them and as he figured things out, as a family we started to panic that the moment may go by and he’d miss out on being with this amazing girl!

A few months of playing what we’ve now come to call the ‘boyfriend and girlfriend game’ they finally got together and we all not so secretly cheered them on. Fast forward a year later he invited us to go backpacking with them, they’d head out a few days earlier and we’d meet them halfway and bring them home.  At first I kind of panicked because, well, I’d never been backpacking before and the thought of carrying a backpack for 10 miles was a little daunting; but I also had an idea of what was going to happen during that trip, so the obvious answer was yes!

HT_Seth+Heylen

So Seth & I packed our sleeping bags, camping food, lightest cloths and set out on the trail to Obsidian Falls.  About 4 miles in, once I’d gotten used to the 30+lb backpack and managed to get a rhythm so I could keep up with my husband, we find ourselves in 4 ft of snow and struggling to find the trail, and just as panic was beginning to creep in, as if on cue, we heard screams and shouts and saw the happy couple sliding down hill on the snow!

HT_Camping

Being a girl the first thing I did was grab Jana’s left hand and look at her finger and realized that yes, after all the games and 12 months of dating, he’d put a ring on it! I really thought we’d do some screaming and jumping, but I’m pretty sure that the 4-mile hike in and their encounter with mosquitoes had something to do with the calmer yet excited hugs and embraces!  Nevertheless we went up the hill and found the campsite, set out a blanket, pulled out the cheese, crackers, summer sausage and wine and listened to how he asked her if ‘he could make her last name sound a little more like his’.  We then celebrated by jumping into 32f water (or at least it felt that cold) and watching the sun set

.HT_ColdWater

ht_sunset.jpgHT_Sunsets+Twinkles

The views were absolutely stunning and included The Three Sisters, The Husband, Mt Washington & Mt Jefferson and more on the horizon.  If you ever get a chance to do at least part of the Pacific Crest Trail, this is a beautiful spot to go on it.

Seth & I had planned to sleep under the stars, but we didn’t realize how many mosquitoes there would be so we jumped in with Eli & Jana into their two-man tent and slept like sardines. Next time I’m taking a sleeping pill… or bringing my own tent. But what would any trip be without a good tent story!

 ht_group-shot.

All in all I absolutely loved backpacking, more than I thought I would – it may have had something to do with the views and the company though 😉

Saying Goodbye

Personal

heylenthienes-elizatbeth

Four weeks ago, as we pulled out of the driveway at a ridiculous hour in the morning to be dropped off at the airport, Seth got a call.  It was his mum telling him that grandma had just passed. Though we knew it was coming, it was still a shock.  And in Seth’s words: “trust grandma to choose to go on friday the 13th, and on the day you’re leaving!”. He was dropping Olivia and I at the airport because we were going on trip that had been planned for over six months.

It was hard to get on the plane and leave him behind because I knew he would be sad even if he was pretending to be ok with it.  But sometimes life throws things at us and we have to deal with them.  I was able to make it back just in time for the memorial service and what a great service it was.

Family came from all over and it was a celebration of Grandma Prociw’s life.  At 97 she saw a lot of things, from the first cars driving along the McKenzie Hwy and alcohol prohibition to the first TV, phone and video calling. She had seen plenty, and though she put up a fight, she was ready to go. And thus we celebrated her with pierogies, rum cake and other delicious Ukranian treats – all her favourites of course.

heylenthienes-grandchildren

Most of us are scared of saying goodbye to a loved one. Especially when it’s a final goodbye, but what we have to think about, is that those loved ones need to be celebrated and honored with joy, the joy they brought to our lives, the lessons they taught us, the heritage they’ve give un and the legacy they’ve left us. And then there’s the memories that were made.  I’ll never forget her excitement at finding out we shared a birthday, how happy she got every time Seth went to visit her, or my favourite  – the happiness a jar of homemade applesauce would bring, she was giddy like a little child with it in her hands – down to not even considering sharing it, I can still remember just how excited she was when we gave her some a couple of Christmases ago.  And bacon.  Oh, how much she loved bacon! & these are just some of the memories we made in the last seven years, I can’t even begin to imagine the memories of everybody else who had known her for longer.

Here’s to the celebration of life and making memories with those who really matter.  The ones who allow us to come to their house, make a big mess and then leave it for them to pick it up and never complain about it, the ones that spoils us when we’re little and then continue to do so as adults.  Here’s to grandparents.

heylenthienes-family

Lessons Learnt

Adventure, Personal, The Outdoors

Lessons Learnt

The last few weeks have been a little crazy and I’ve learnt a ton of things! Some things were new, and others were things I was aware of before but had forgotten about, and it got me thinking, wouldn’t be great to keep track of those things? So that in the future I can just browse back and be reminded of them?

So here we have it, just a few of the things that have stuck with me recently – some are just plain funny, some I’ll have to keep practicing and others I’ll have to ponder on…

#1 – When you go on a hike don’t leave your food in the car – who would’ve thought it?!

#2 – If you don’t go and skip stones often, you’ll forget how to do it and it will take you forever to get back in to it again – so keep practicing the things that make you smile.

#3 – If you have several hobbies and choose one as a career path, don’t give up on the others – you’ll end up starving your career ‘hobby’ and will need your other hobbies to feed it. Thank you Austin Kleon. 

#4 – Sometimes life throws different things and situations at you pushing you to take the jump,  you can either panic and do nothing, or you can choose take the jump and figure out how you’re going to land standing.

#5Community is important, whether they’re there for you so you can vent, or to support you and hold you accountable.

#6 – Having confidence in your work and a good pricing structure are vital, not just to pay your bills, but also live a happier life.

#7Consider it pure joy when you face trials.  It’ll teach you perseverance, push you to do your best, place your trust in God and help you grow like no other.

#8 – Don’t trust UPS to deliver on time, and have a back up plan.

#9 – Ask yourself why you want something, if you don’t know why you want it – you’ll never fully pursue it wholeheartedly, and it’ll become a burden or selfish need.

#10 – Nothing happens in the comfort zone. Except for sleep.

 

Picture taken at Cougar Reservoir, and edited with VSCO cam

From The Weekend – Timberline Lodge

Adventure, Personal

HeyleThienes-_-Snowboarding-1
It’s been a while since I went snowboarding, but having just finished acquiring all my gear, I was dying to go. So needless to say when my friend Carrie and her boyfriend invited us to go to Timberline Lodge and take advantage of lower spring season tickets, I jumped on it! It ended up being Carrie, Andy, Carrie’s sister Jenny, and my own little sis Laura!

HeylenThienes-_-Snowboarding-2
We had a blast trying to make it down the hill, taking a number of drops on our butts, and of course – dealing with the dreaded lift. Laura and I finally made it off the lift at the end of the day without falling either flat on our faces or on some awkward position and then being shouted at by the attendant to move out of the way! If you know me, you know I can’t always hold my temper, but I tried really really hard that day 😉 I just wanted to shout at him that I obviously wasn’t on the floor by choice…

HeylenThienes-_-Timberline-Lodge
A serious tumble on my part (I was seeing stars for a while), mixed with sore muscles and a long ride home demanded we stopped at the lodge for an après-ski cuppa hot chocolate. I had never been to Timberline Lodge before, and boy was I blown away by it. It was built in the 1930s and is now a National Historic Landmark, it’s beautiful and rustic on the inside and the furniture is to die for, I want all those couches in my house (if only they would fit!).

Three days later I still have a sore neck that I can’t get enough Tiger Balm on and a few bruises on my palms, shins… but now I just can’t wait til the next time I go again!