This is the ninth in a series of interviews with homeowners in the (East) Lansing area. The purpose of this series is to learn more about our neighbors and create a sense of community that can exist both online and out in the world!
Tell me about yourself, where you live in East Lansing, and who you live with.
We live in Bailey. Living in our house currently is my husband, and three of our four children. Also at home is our dog (Brooks), cat (Pumpkin), and our four hens (Mable, Charley, Blanche, & Queenie).
What’s keeping you busy these days?
Fortunately, so many different things at the moment. First, I am a small business owner. While it’s not outdoor photography season just yet, there’s always a little something business related to be done. My other passion, gardening, also keeps me very busy. Even right now. If you were to venture into our basement today you’d find all sorts of lovely green starts, both flower and veg, under lights. In addition, the veg I grow for us, I plan to offer some cut flower bouquet sales this summer! Additionally, just a few weeks ago one of my local friends purchased the Wild Birds Unlimited store up on Coolidge and Lake Lansing. Currently I’m over there with her a few days a week helping her out with all things backyard bird. It’s was an opportunity that came out of nowhere at an ideal time, and I am really enjoying myself. People who come in to feed the birds are turning out to be just some of the sweetest people!
What brought you to East Lansing?
We moved here fifteen years ago this March for my husband’s career. Fortunately, within months it felt like home and now is where we always picture ourselves being.
How long have you lived in your home?
It is hard for me to believe, but this June will mark 5 years in this home. Prior to this home we lived in the Walnut Heights neighborhood, which as you know is how we originally met, years and years go.
What drew you to this house?
About seven years ago I became fascinated with the idea of living smaller. I felt really restless about it. We got slightly serious with the idea one spring and looked at a much smaller home in the neighborhood we were in at the time. We then backed down from the idea for about a year. But I just couldn’t shake that I really wanted my family to be in a cozier home. A home where we really used all of the living spaces to their fullest. In the end, we made the leap. We bought the smallest house we’ve owned in our marriage, and we never looked back. It was a really gratifying move for both us, even if my husband did question the idea in the beginning! So the much shorter answer is we were drawn to this house because it was small! But, we also happen to think it’s really darling too.
Did you have the feeling of “this is the one” when you were house hunting?
Selling our previous home happened before we were expecting it to, prior to us listing it. So when we suddenly found ourselves house hunting there was almost nothing on the market. And I mean nothing! We wanted to stay within the Marble boundaries, with children still at Marble. There was one home in Bailey that sort of checked some boxes, and one rumored about coming to market soon in Lantern Hill. As we were nearing the moment of moving forward on the listed Bailey home we heard the home we are now living in would be coming on the market in a matter of a week or so. It was a home I already adored because I use to marvel at it’s beautiful weeping cheery tree each spring. And I do have a thing for Cape Cods. So honestly, before we even stepped inside I just knew it would be perfect for us. And it really has been that, and so much more.
I also just have to share, we really ran with the Cape Cod theme. In subtle ways, but in ways that make me so happy. My grandparents lived on Cape Cod for most of my life. My Mandy (grandmother) was a painter, and I have a painting she did of myself, my sister, and my cousins on the Cape. I have another landscape painting of hers from Cape Cod too. Those paintings hang prominently in our living room. We then painted the 1st floor walls in the color “Sea Salt” and the bathroom with “Sand Dune”. While my Mandy passed a couple years ago, we were able to share this with her through pictures before she did. And it thrilled her.
What’s one project you thought you would do before you moved in? Have you done it – why or why not?
Oh yes! The second bedroom on the first floor had been converted into one big master closet. Which made a ton of sense for the previous owners. Especially since the 1940s master bedroom closet is about as tiny as they come. But, with our family size, myself working from home, and additional reasons, we needed to convert that room back into a room. We had all of the lovely custom closet organizational systems moved down and reinstalled on the utility side of our basement. Which has worked out great for seasonal storage.
What has been your favorite project so far?
The veg garden, hands down! We are located on a corner. And so this lot has a decent sized patch of yard on the side. It was all grass, with one small tree. While the tree was beneficial, that patch of lawn was never ever used, and definitely not beneficial. So, two Aprils ago my adult son came up for a week and we tore it all out. Together we built a picket fence around the area. Next we built five 4×8 raised beds. I’ve had raised bed gardens at previous homes of ours, but never so publicly! It’s always been hidden in a backyard. But now here we were turning a front lawn into a vegetable patch. Yes, technically it is on the side of our own home. But it is adjacent to our neighbor’s front yard, it runs right up to the sidewalk, and you drive right by it. While I was beyond excited to have a growing space again, I admit I spent the night before wide-awake counting all of the neighbors surrounding who would have to stare at our garden from their own home. But I have to say, I get such an abundance of positive feedback. And people tell me they go out of their way to walk by and check-in. [Editor’s Note: I am one of those people!]
How has the pandemic affected your daily routines?
Oh, where to start! Since I work from home I was very accustomed to having the home all to myself during the daytime. But honestly, while the circumstances are beyond crummy, I’ve loved having my family home. We have an older child who is out of the house and off and living his adult life in another state far away. I’ve experienced just how quickly everything changes. We also had the opportunity to be in Georgia for a bit of an extended time this past Fall. I spent so much time with my 97-year-old Poppop who lives in Savannah. More time than I’ve spent with him in my adult life. And I will cherish that time the rest of my life.
Due to the pandemic, is there anything you wish you could change about your home or where you live?
Many people have cracked that perhaps we wouldn’t have moved to a much smaller home if we knew we’d have to be together all day long for a year and then some! But neither of us feel that way. We love this home. Though, depending on the moment, our kids my have a very different answer for you! But, honestly, this home gave us a sincere and deep peace-of-mind when everything first came down with COVID. Simply put, living in a much smaller home with fewer and smaller expenses gives us a lot of margin. If things really got turned on their head, like job loss or severe illness, that margin sure makes a big difference in what would happen next.
What are some of your favorite places to shop/eat/hang out in East Lansing?
Love love love heading to VanAttas or Horrocks in the Spring. Those are absolutely my places of joy! And when the weather warms up, I particularly love strolling and doing my photography work at MSU’s Lewis Arboretum. My family also loves anything we can walk to right downtown here. And Fosters Coffee is a frequent destination.
How do you spend an ideal Saturday at home?
Long coffee mornings. I’ll admit, if I can’t get a long coffee morning in on a Saturday, I’m a little bit sad. Especially in the winter! Make the coffee, grab the blanket, turn on the fireplace, and sketch next seasons garden.
How many TVs do you have and what are you currently binging? Three. And watching The Crown nightly right now.
Are you handy, crafty, hostess, or cook? Crafty?
Can you fold a fitted sheet? Oh goodness no!
What’s your “at-home” equivalent of Inbox Zero? Spotless first floor.
What’s a favorite simple or inexpensive treat? A grilled meal on our patio.
What is your favorite splurge for your home? Garden-related things.
Do you have an organizing hack to share? For the busiest seasons in life, set a Monday through Friday menu and stick to it. Literally dish-by-dish. Monday Chili, Tuesday Tacos, Wednesday Salad Bar, Thursday Spaghetti, Friday Chicken & Rice. Whatever it might be. Not only will you not have to think about what you are cooking each night – which we know can exhaustingly feel like one more thing you have to think about – but it also saves you a lot of time and money at the market because you are buying the same exact thing week after week. I think people think, oh, that will be so boring, And after awhile it might be. But we’ll take boring over stress.
When I say hygge, you say…. Fire!
What do you want to know about your neighbors? Can you hear our chickens? lol
Thank you, Lindsay! If YOU would like to be featured on the Real Houses of East Lansing, please send an email to the editor, Carrie Sampson, at realhousesofeastlansing (at) gmail (dot) com (written out this way to prevent spam). Thx for reading!