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Hello. This is not a 2 minute read.

Let’s be honest, this is NOT the blog I thought I would have been writing a month ago. I planned on talking about our 10 Year Anniversary celebration, the amazing people and projects that have walked through our doors and into our hearts, and the growth that we’ve seen over the years. 

Today however, is a new day in the face of our country, our world, our economy, your kitchen table, and for small and big businesses everywhere.  How does one even begin to translate what is happening into some cohesive sounding blog? All I can keep saying is “this is crazy- this is weird- this is surreal.”  And then I think…this is just a blip, a small part of a bigger story that is life…and really do you want me pontificating on anything but positive thoughts? 

So, in the spirit of positivity, I hope you will indulge me as I share some thoughts about the past 10 years…

10 years ago this month, we were in the final stages of receiving orders, painting floors and walls, and building our service desk. We were nervous and excited about opening the doors for the first time to perfect strangers. We were working countless hours, hustling 2 middle schoolers to school, swimming, track and soccer (we even celebrated Davis’ 11th birthday in the store!) We had friends helping us unpack, price, and set up displays with our new home accessories. And we were doing it all because I had this dream. A dream all of those lovely people helped make possible. It was amazing to see so many help us out, Bob and I were excited, exhausted and oh so nervous.  

In these last 10 years, our store didn’t grow to the size of a Chip or Joanna (maybe in the next decade?), but what has grown is our hearts. Each time someone walked through our door and greeted us by name, who we hugged and talked about life with, our hearts all grew a little bit more. So, if this is as far as you get in this month’s blog (but you really should keep going because there are some fun things down the page), please know this-the PEOPLE are what have made this business what it is today, 10 years later. And those PEOPLE are the ones that will help us get through this together. And I also know that during a pandemic we should all be blessed with the people that I have in my life.

Until the time when we can welcome you back into our store, here are some of the highlights of these past 10 years: 

  1. Do you know what the first item was that I sold in the store? A bird, a big bird. The funny thing about birds is that they are NOT on my list of favorite things to offer customers! Okay, I said that too gently. I DIDN’T want to sell birds in my store, but I was told I HAD TO. Well who’s laughing now? Maureen!  Ironically, birds are some of our biggest sellers! 
  2. How about some of the first design clients, John and Joanne, Janice- all still some of our favorite people…and they are kind enough to keep coming back for refreshes on their homes. How lucky are we??!  
  3. Lynn, my store manager that we all know and LOVE: went home crying on her first day of work…over a lamp…Needless, to say she came back the second day…and 5 years later she is the glue that is keeping this all together! 
  4. Thursday nights are the BEST. You know who you are- and you have made Thursday nights special for all of us for years! 
  5. What started as a family business with my awesome husband, Bob, handling all of our marketing, deliveries, etc- the kids working in a multitude of ways including computer work, deliveries, and so much more, had grown to 12 employees. The bottom line is that I couldn’t have done any of this without my family supporting me. The funny part- I think I wore them out. I can barely get them to come to the store let alone work in it! 
  6. Dozens of employees have walked these concrete floors, and their feet have more stories to tell than most!  I am a better human thanks to many of these lovely ladies, and yes- we have been a full-on Women in business model since day one (Bob and Davis excluded). See, my goal was to offer a place where a woman could work part-time in order to have a flexible schedule for whatever reason she needed it. Along with that, I wanted a place where there was fun, positive, build-each-other-up feel every day. I hope that everyone that has graced this place feels that way today and always. 
  7. Being part of the Downtown Business Association. I have the pleasure of celebrating 8 years as part of this great group. It has been a joy to be able to contribute to such a dedicated group of business owners, community members and of course, the amazing Diana Kenny. 
  8. WE are MORE THAN just a STORE- My favorite Lynn quote. Truly, that summarizes the big picture of what my goals were all those years ago. To offer a kind word, a source of inspiration, a glass of something and a place to meet and make friends. I hope that you have felt that every time you have stopped by our store. 
  9. This TEAM- To say the last year has been without challenges would be an understatement. Did I mention we moved? The team that is with me today, has had my back for these past 11 months and they are truly awesome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I would not have survived without you. Thank you all. 
  10. The future- There has not been a day in 10 years where I have not thought about the future of the business. Today is no different. And although none of us ever know what the future holds, today’s situation is something none of us could have predicted. For the first time in over 10 years, I don’t have an answer (ask my husband- he’d say I always have an answer). But whatever the future brings, it will be GREAT! 

When this is all over (and I pray that it is sooner rather than later), and we are able to gather again, we will talk about our days filled with new found creativity, new ways to connect, new skills, new self-discoveries, new found joy and appreciation; it is then that we will look back and realize that we are stronger, we are better, we are more resilient than ever thought possible and then… we will hug.

It’s all about LOVE!

February is the month of love! So, it’s only fitting to share all the things that I love– both personally and professionally (let’s see if you guessed any of them).

Family and Friends– I like to lump them together, right? Although there is nothing like family, we have the privilege of having some friends that feel just as close. The ones that you call on in a pinch or shed a tear with, and who are always there to lend a helping hand.  I love my family, my husband and children. I love my extended family as it grows to include nieces/nephews, even grand-nieces/nephews– it’s more fun than ever, and I love watching life continue to grow!

Music– I love music, the feelings it evokes, and the environment it creates, from a sultry jazz to a classical marvel and everything in between. I’m always listening to it, whether I’m working, traveling, or relaxing.

Books– Who doesn’t love a good book? Well, I truly embrace every aspect of a book from the paper its written on, to the way the signatures are assembled, to the actual words on a page. I am drawn to the creative minds that bring torn or glossy edge on a page (depending on the book) to the readers hands…think about all the books you’ve ever read and how they felt in your hand. It’s such a great feeling! I know I have written about cookbooks before and how they are among some of my favorites. But, it’s much more than the recipes on the pages. There is a story to how that cookbook came to be and about the love that I share when I create something from those pages.

Cars– I love fast ones. Enough said.

My career path– It’s been a long, twisted road, but it is exactly where I was meant to be at those exact moments in life. The path has taken me from the new home building industry to a retail store owner in 2 states, a designer that has done everything from remodeling old homes to designing and building new ones. I have staged homes, merchandised, and designed model homes. I have grown a team from a single employee to a team in the double digits. I have had an amazing career that keeps going and growing. My love of design, interior, exterior, landscape, kitchen…all of it. I love taking something old and outdated and updating to fit a need. I love when a client will smile over a completed project that has made their home a better fit for them. I love it all.

My new home in Tampa– This new life that Bob and I are creating is very different from anything we have done before and it is FUN! We walk or bike to restaurants, shopping, the bay, we visit the beach and new areas when I am home, and we’re getting involved in new adventures and experiences..

Lastly,  all of you– who not only read my blog but continue to bless my life with your stories of home, family and your ups and downs. I love the daily connection to your lives–even when I am away from the stores– through social media.

So, what do you love? Have you been making a list as you read through mine? I hope you have because no matter what is going on in this crazy world, we must remember that it is LOVE that will change it all. So, whether it is as simple as creating an environment that allows you to spread your love or the words you read on a page, love is what we all should share.

It’s Party time!

It’s my favorite time of the year! It’s the beginning of All things Holiday– from gatherings of friends to wrapping presents, I enjoy every moment. As the years go by, the kids grow up, and the nest gets emptier, I long for the simpler days of having everyone in the same home 365 days a year. But alas, they are growing up and leaving the comforts of home. Side note for you long time customers– Do you remember little Catherine as she would assist with your purchases, that lovely smile and warm personality? Well, that little girl is going to be 23 early in the New Year and will have her MBA by May. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??

I digress. But all this change means a change in our Holiday gatherings, and that means new ideas for you! So, grab a glass of wine or water and let’s talk through some of my tried and true traditions and some of the new ideas I am looking forward to trying.

This year, Thanksgiving revolves around some interesting travel schedules as we look forward to honoring our past in the ‘warmer than I am accustomed to’ Tampa area. The kids are flying in from their respective state universities and are super excited about the first item on our Traditions List– the Annual Turkey Trot. The different city comes with a change to the cause, this year our donation goes to cancer survivors. It feels like the right way to honor my sister as she finishes up her chemo and the All-clear on her cancer! Yay Diane– she is a Rock Star!  After the run we will be filling our bellies with the traditional egg souffle aka egg bake that I make every year. This year I may even bring back the famed Monkey Bread.

As another little change, my sister is Hosting this year. I think this is a tribute to her strength…and the fact that she has a larger dining room than I do. But, I’ll still be pulling out all the stops with this year’s table– beginning with a lovely tray filled with stems and some great new pumpkins that we added this year, the awesome new scents from Ella B candles, my tiered cake plate collection on the credenza that will hold all of those fabulous desserts and pies. YUM. And yes, I really will bring all these things to her home…it’s just how I roll. No need to have her do something she doesn’t love as much as I do. Oh, and yes, my kids will ask if that is really necessary!

Adding to our new traditions, the men in our group are golfing as part of this year’s Turkey celebration. That will give us ladies some time to reconnect as we whip up some of our favorite dishes. No fear, though, there is a clubhouse complete with pool and tennis if we decide to get out of the hot kitchen (how weird is that to say??)  Otherwise, the wine gets opened shortly after noon and some even gets added to the recipes.

What’s on the menu this year? Tried and true recipes to be certain: Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy. Newer traditions: roasted Brussel sprouts with pancetta and garlic. Catherine made an amazing upside-down Apple tart last year; I am hoping she brings that recipe home.

But, no matter what we eat, what house we eat it in, or even what state, the best thing about the holidays is being with my loved ones and doing what I love (see: bringing all those decorations for the table).

If you’re looking for a little Holiday inspiration, come stop by the store and see us! We have a cornucopia’s worth of decorations and ideas for you to see.

Is Fall your Restart Season?

For many of us, Fall has become our New Year. It is the start of the school year, of football, soccer, and swim season. It is the time of bonfires and apple picking, sitting in front of a warm fire with a giant plate of comfort food. This is the time when we gather our friends, our families, and share meals and make memories before the temperatures drop and leaving the house becomes that much harder.

It is also a time to refresh, reevaluate, and redesign our homes and our lives. ­It is a time to figure out what the season means to you.

For me, this is the time of year to embrace the scents and sounds of the season. The crackling of the fire, the warm smells of pumpkin and cinnamon that fill our store. I also love to bring the colors and smells of fall into my own home with our seasonal stems and sprays.

I have to admit, though, it is going to happen a little later in the Tampa house. It is a bit harder to think of chilly autumn nights when it is 90 degrees outside! However, I’m pulling the storage bins out as I type, feeling my way through decorating for fall in Florida. I guess that’s what my restart is this season. On the other hand, I know exactly what Christmas will look like — stay tuned!

What does the beginning of this new season mean to you?

Maybe fall means baking with your kids or grandkids. Well, then you’ll want to join me as I try out a few new recipes from my favorite cookbooks, including “What Katie Ate”. Sidenote: If you don’t follow Katie Quinn Davies on Instagram, you really should! Her photography, food styling and recipes- everything she does is amazing. @katie_quinn_d

If fall means lounging with a good book on a “Sunday sofa” or the “Nappin’ Couch,” well, you’ll be happy to know that is exactly what we call our sofa that made the trek to the Tampa house…and there isn’t a golf match or football game that I can’t manage to dose off during! Blasphemy- I KNOW!

Here in Tampa, I am making my way through so many refreshing new “starts” to this “cooler” season, meeting new people, exploring new places and making our home feel fresh for this season we call Fall. I hope that you also get to take an afternoon or an entire weekend to make your home as “Re-freshed” as you are able. And don’t forget to take some photos and share them with us, we would love to see what you have done in your home.

If you’re looking for a refresh on your home this season, now is the time to wrap up those projects (before the wrapping is all taken up by Christmas presents). The team at Y&M makes it so easy to tidy up and sort out all the rooms in your home.

Whatever this season means to you, whatever way you choose to welcome these cooler days and nights, the team at Yours & Meyn and Home by Yours & Meyn has a full fall event schedule to help you make the most of your time AND have some fun along the way.

We hope to see you soon at one of our exciting October events! Happy Fall y’all!

 

Mom’s are people too

May is the month we celebrate a very special person or persons in our lives…MOM. We all have a mom, she may be a Heavenly mom, an out of the picture mom, a mom that you couldn’t live one hour of the day without kind of mom- no matter how you live life with your mom- she is special. For me, this will be my second Mother’s Day without my mom and there isn’t a day that goes by that she isn’t thought of. May also marks the 18th year since the passing of my dad- he too was a super special man. So, I thought I would share some of the things that each of these special people taught me in life.

Stubbornness- Yep, got that from both! Although, sometimes being stubborn also means being strong. Strong enough to weather the storms of life, the ups and downs of owning a business, the ins and outs of relationships, the ability to wake up every day and say TODAY is going to be GREAT! No matter what.

Love- They both taught me that as well. We weren’t a mushy, huggy, lovey every day kind of family, but we felt love and lived with love in our home. Everyone knew they were loved- and even liked- everyday. The special times playing in the yard with my whole family- all 7 of us- Thanksgiving football “games” in the back yard- those were great times with much laughter and love.

Laughter- Ditto. Both again. Sure, we got yelled at- after all 5 kids 9 and under at one point had to break down any parent. I am sure there were many days when my mom wanted to push us all out the door and lock them tight! Actually, she probably did! Another of my favorite childhood memories was being allowed to stay out until dark- and most of the time we were laughing and hanging out with the pals in Pennsylvania! As I recently sorted through a few photos (thank you Jenni and Diane for going through the rest) from my mom- there were so many where she was smiling, and my mom had a beautiful smile! I like to think that I got my smile from her- although my dad had an awesome smile as well (think Elvis Presley)

Cooking- It’s funny because my mom always said that she doesn’t know how we all learned to cook since she didn’t know how. Well, she may not have known how when she first got married in 1957, but by the time we were all in sports and activities we were all being fed well! Recently, I made her ‘special’ frosting for the rest of my siblings- I didn’t realize that they had not been making this frosting for the last 20+ years as I had (yes it has something to do with the ingredients) but my husband, kids and I can’t imagine a birthday without ‘Grandma’s Frosting’. Also, did I mention that one of my brothers is a chef?? See mom, you really did teach us the value and ability to cook. It’s something that I treasure and share with anyone that will allow me to do for them.

Homes- My parents both taught me the value of owning, building, living and designing a home. My dad was in the homebuilding business and he shared that love and industry with all of us. Some of us finance them, some of us design them, some build them, and we all share special moments in them. My mom always kept a tidy home and designed elements of our homes over the years as her budget allowed (just like all of us). I had the privilege of designing the last home she lived in as her health was declining. That opportunity allowed me to get to spend important time with her visiting both as a ‘client’ and as her daughter. For that, I will always be thankful.

For YOU- my mom and dad shared the love of family, friends and business relationships that turned into friendships for as long as I can remember- I have had the honor of those same relationships here at Y&M for 9 years! Yes, 9 years this month. I hope that you will come celebrate with us at our 9 is Fine Anniversary Celebration on (appropriately) May 9th! I look forward to thanking you for all that you have shared with me.

 

NEWNESS IS IN THE AIR!

April this year seems to be bringing even more newness for some of us- from the snowy cold days of Dec, Jan, February and even March- we are looking for NEW & fresh! Spring seems to be arriving just a touch later than usual and I for one am ready for the grass to turn green- I got a few days on the slopes- so now I am ready for it! There seems to be so much happening in our lives these days that it’s sometimes hard to take that “moment” and watch the coming of Spring.

What is on your spring agenda? Are you wrapping up that much needed warm weather vacation? Are you awaiting the purchase or sale of a new home? Are you living the sacrificial Lenten season and awaiting the Risen Lord? Maybe you are doing all of this and more. I know that this is the time of year we all start to spend more time outside, freshening up our yards as well as preparing our homes for the season and the fun summer events that we have penned in the calendar.

As I left a client home this morning, I noticed the crocus and daffodils sprouting reminding me of the days ahead when I get to play in the yard. This season, I have another project on the list that will really let me “dig into” my love of landscaping and updating the look of another older home from the outside in…stay tuned as I get going on this project.

As for my other seasonal activities, I leave “my’ teenage years behind as my youngest hits the “20” milestone, my other graduates from college- HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??- my husband will embark on a new adventure, we will begin the 10th year here at YOURS & MEYN, we will host our annual Ladies Night Out, and the team and I will continue to beautify homes each and every day here at the store and in your homes.

It’s Spring! Let’s share it together- we look forward to greeting you at the store!

Love Where You Live

As we enter the month of February, the month of Love, our Downtown Association will begin the soft rollout of our new campaign-LOVE where you LIVE! As my new role of President of the Downtown Crystal Lake Association’s Board of Directors I thought it would be a good time to share why I love where I live.

So, let’s start big- AMERICA- I love the freedoms that our great country stands for, our freedom of speech, freedom of religion and so much more. We can voice our opinions and have conversations (typically without angst) that allow lively discussions and interaction with our fellow Americans. I do look forward to some of the current conversations to calm down and allow more respect of both sides of issues.

Illinois- What do I love about Illinois? The people. Have you ever noticed that some of the best people you run into in your travels end up being from Illinois? It seems crazy to me, that I can be thousands of miles away, and run into someone else that has a common thread that draws me to them. Is it the solid- hardworking people of the Midwest that keeps us grounded? I’m not 100% certain but I know that the work ethic and friendliness is something you just can’t beat.

Crystal Lake- The best of the best people. The small city with big hearts, helping hands and amazing sense of community pride. As I begin my next step on the DTCL assoc as board President, I look forward to assisting in the growth of our community events, the organization and the vision that we have set forth over the last several years.

My home- The place that I gather family and friends. I love my home because it is my sanctuary from the busyness of life. My kitchen is my happy place, the place I prepare meals, share laughs and nourish both mind, body and soul. My comfort zone is standing at the island ready to prep for the next meal, whether it’s for an army or just my husband I love every minute of it. I love the history of our home as it gives me a sense of community as well, as I think of the families that have walked its’s halls. Our efforts in preserving this home for the next 100+ years of families gives me a sense of purpose in life, a contribution to the future. I can only hope that the next generation or family feels the same love of history and dedication to preserving it and sharing this amazing property with their friends and families as we have. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to preserve this piece of Crystal Lake history, right here in Illinois in the USA. Yep, I LOVE where I LIVE. I hope you do too.