Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Revisiting a couple of topics and introducing a new one

Sometimes we get lucky and write about stuff that resonates with our readers. We love hearing from you.

Here’s a followup on a couple of past topics I’ve touched on and received feeback from you, plus something new to think about.

First, my article about Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I keep hearing this show brought up again and again, which is good. I had listed when the show was on, but unfortunately the season finale had just aired while the paper went to print. Oops! I hope the show comes back in the fall. Meanwhile, our family continues to try to make better food choices, and we’ve planted another vegetable garden this year-my children are proud to grow some of their own food.

Second, my curb shopping column got good feedback, too. And guess what I just learned? May 15 was ‘Give Your Stuff Away Day’, formerly known as ‘Curb Day.’ Heck yeah, great minds do think alike. Founder Mike Morone wants to make it a world-wide twice annual event, an (almost) like magic event where you place valuable but unwanted stuff at the curb for people to come find and take home. Before I knew this, I placed a craigslist ad in the ‘free’ section listing a bunch of items I wanted to donate, placed them by the alley, and they were gone within hours. Visit for more info.

And finally, speaking of reclaiming ‘junk’ from the landfill, I am collecting pop can tabs, wine bottle corks, and twist off bottlecaps (be sure to recycle those cans and bottles!). I love being at a party hearing people ask others to save the bottlecaps and corks so they can make things with them. My kind of people! If you have these things and would save them, we would be grateful.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Historic Homes of Noblesville--1359 Logan Street

Location: 1359 Logan Street

Owners: Casey and Bill Kenley and sons Raymond and Leo, since spring of 2007

Constructed by: W. Frank Lacy in 1898, the son of A.H. Lacy, a wealthy Hamilton County farmer who also constructed the Lacy Block on the north side of the square.

Style: This home reflects the late Queen Anne style (sometimes referred to as Free Classic), but with simpler, more reserved elements. It has smooth classical columns and square balusters, an irregular roofline and multiple gables, which is typical for the Queen Anne’s, as is the wrap-around porch.

Cosmetic features: The dark-stained bead board ceiling under the porch remains beautifully intact. One particularly ornate feature on this home is the front door, which has carved wreath and garland accents.

What work have you done on your house? “We’ve painted the exterior, replaced the fence, and replaced some downed trees. We also remodeled our kitchen, using some "green" materials including linoleum flooring (made from linseed oil), Amish-made cabinetry, and an energy-efficient dishwasher. “

What are your favorite features? “The wraparound porch is definitely my favorite feature. I also love the fact that the kitchen and living room are very accessible to one another. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and wanted one that didn’t feel separated from the rest of the living space. I also like our bumpy brick road. It slows down the traffic. We enjoy the easy access to downtown and my husband and I take advantage of all the good running paths, through Forest Park and up to Potter's Bridge, all accessible from our house.”

A run through the neighborhood right up my alley - and elsewhere

I’ve never been a runner. I never understood how people could possibly run and even find it enjoyable. My husband started running six years ago and I thought he was crazy too. For some odd reason I decided to try running again this spring. And guess what? I’ve found that I like to run!
However, the conditions have to be right. Yes, I am fickle.

I’ve found out what I don’t like, and I don’t like treadmill running. All I can do on the treadmill is fixate on the blinking red dot going around the track oh-so-slowly until I get my requisite time in. I fiddle with the speed; I speed up, I slow down, I hope I don’t fall. Then when I get off I careen back and forth trying to get used to a surface that isn’t moving anymore.

I feel like if I’m going to run, I want to go somewhere, see something, see the ground I’m covering.

So here’s what I do like: I like running through my neighborhood. To me it seems like the best place to run. This spring I’ve breathed deep the heady perfume of flowering shrubs and seen places I just don’t walk to.

The routes I can take are endless—an alley here, a sidewalk there, and the grassy area surrounding a tiny old cemetery tucked between a school and commercial buildings. I notice the juxtaposition of the well kept homes and outbuildings and those that need some love. I hear the sound of my feet hitting the pavement in time with the music on my iPod as I notice the clock tower of the courthouse looming ahead of me at the end of the alley. This is where love of my neighborhood and finding a love of running meet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eating local—become a ‘locavore’ this summer

Last spring I read a book that challenged my thinking about the food we eat and where it comes from--Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Barbara and her family committed to eating locally (meaning food grown within a 100 mile radius of their home) for one year. Wow, a novel concept isn’t it? I have always tried to eat food that remembers where it came from, but to consider eating local foods as much as possible and eating seasonally was a shift in my thinking.
So that summer I shopped the farmers markets in Noblesville and Fishers a lot more, with a new appreciation for the farmers and their hard work. It felt great to support them by buying their food and to be consuming food grown here. So, instead of spending $20 here and there in occasional jaunts to the market, I regularly went home with fresh produce, eggs, honey, and meat, having spent a big chunk of my weekly food budget at an open air market with the people who grew my food. As I began questioning where (and from where) we buy our food, it felt weird to be in an artificially lit grocery store in July buying produce shipped from California when I could buy food at the market, as local and fresh as it gets.

Eat local, shop local, live simply, dry your clothes on a clothesline, get back to the Earth—these are definitely worthwhile pursuits. See for info about eating locally in Indiana. The Noblesville market opens Saturday, May 22nd from 8am-12:30pm in the parking lot east of Riverview Hospital. PS—ask the farmers if their produce is organic since local AND organic is ideal.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Local owners 'planting' a future for old schoolhouse

Kim Porter, owner of the lovely garden center known as Garden Thyme, is as vibrant and enthusiastic a gardener as you’ll ever meet. I love this place because I love plants, love to buy local, and love to help a good cause. Garden Thyme meets all three.

The two room brick schoolhouse was built in 1898 and used until 1930, when it basically became a storage building of farm equipment. When Kim and her husband purchased the property in 1898 a century after it was built, it was just a shell of its former self. There is no longer a floor, the side porches flanking the large arched window in front are long gone, as is the belfry and other elements. Kim uses the plant profits and returns them to the schoolhouse in the form of restoration.

Her latest project was to get the old roof replaced and the chimneys rebuilt, a project she’s so pleased about. The roof work was done by local roofer TJ Myers of MRC Roofing and his crew, while the brickwork was done by Scott Broady. “It took me eight years to save for the new roof. I would like to get new windows next, and then a floor. I envision teaching gardening classes in the school. I shop local when I can and try to support the little guy. It’s a joint effort and I couldn’t have done it without my customers. So thank you to all of you, and if you haven’t been here yet, stop by and say hello.”

Garden Thyme is located just east of Clarksville at 14520 SR 38 East. It’s open Tuesday-Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 11-4. See the website at for photos and upcoming events (Chocolate Fest is Sat. June 5th from 10-4).

Historic preservation part of First Friday event

May is Historic Preservation month, a month to become more aware of the historic structures surrounding us and to bring focus to the importance of preserving our architectural wealth.

The Noblesville Preservation Alliance (NPA) will offer historic walking tours downtown at the First Friday event, May 7 from 5:30-8 pm. The Indiana Historical Society will provide a scavenger hunt, the Indiana Transportation Museum will be giving train rides, there will be May Day baskets for children to make, a May Pole, and also flowers and plants for sale.

The NPA web site,, has a map and photos of many of the downtown historic homes.
In a message from the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Web site ( “We know that preservation is good for communities and good for the pocketbook, but in the face of our growing climate crisis, we can also say with confidence that preservation has a significant role to play in fostering development that is more environmentally and economically sustainable. By giving Preservation Month the theme of sustainability, we are hopeful communities and organizations across the country will help us spread the word that preservation is inherently green. When you reinvest in older and historic buildings, live in a historic home, or even become a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation or your local preservation organization, you support a more sustainable world. Spread the word this May – Old is the New Green!”

The public can download a "This Place Matters" sign from the National Trust Web site, and then have their picture taken with it in front of their favorite historic place to be uploaded back to the site for display.
Visit the NPA website at to see a map and photos of many of the downtown historic homes. Better yet, get inspired and come out May 7th to take a springtime stroll through these neighborhoods and enjoy these historic treasures.

And to all those working to restore and maintain these historic structures, thank you for your commitment to preserving the past for the future. Preservation matters.

Historic Homes of Noblesville--812 North 10th St.

Location: 812 North 10th St.

Owners: Rob and Jeanne Lawson and children Alice and Clara, since 1999

Constructed by: Homer and Lulu Brown, circa 1919.Homer was a retired carpenter who took much pride in his detailed woodwork.

Style: Dutch Colonial Revival. This style of home is a subtype of the popular Colonial Revival and is distinguished by its gambrel roof and frequent use of dormers and was popular from 1890-1930. Other common Dutch Colonial characteristics of this home, besides the gambrel roof, are clapboard and shingle siding, columns for porches and entry, and the balanced symmetry (and sometimes balanced asymmetry) of the fa├žade. The Dutch Colonial Revival is one of the most varied 20th century home styles.

What work have you done on your home? We opened up the front porch (it had been enclosed into office space when the house was used as the Rectory of Our Lady of Grace), removed aluminum siding and added historic outside paint colors, we’ve done extensive landscaping, removed three dropped ceilings, and removed all the carpet to expose the hardwood floors.

What are your favorite features? We love our ‘egg and basket’ woodwork throughout, the limestone fireplace which was added in the late 1930’s, our front porch and our large basement, which is four usable rooms housing a study, a playroom, a storage and a craft room.

What do you like about this neighborhood? We can walk everywhere—library, church, school restaurants, shopping, and parks. We can even both walk to work.