Where are you from and how long have you lived in town? What brought you to the area?
I am originally from St. Paul, MN where I grew up in a suburban neighborhood with my mom, dad, older brother and younger sister. I went on to graduate from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. I’ve always had a love for teaching from as early as I can remember. My sister has cerebral palsy and my family was very involved her schooling- my mom worked as paraprofessional at my sister’s school for 20+ years, and I followed her lead. Just as I was finishing my program at the U of MN, I met my husband, David. He had finished his undergraduate program at Indiana University and was just about to set off to Notre Dame to begin his law program. Before you knew it, we were engaged, and I moved to South Bend. I taught 6th grade at a South Bend, IN charter school for 2 years while he completed his law program. Following his law school graduation, we headed to Chicago for David’s first legal job in the big city. We lived in Andersonville for 3 years, and had our first child, Stella. I continued my teaching career in Schiller Park as a special education paraprofessional and eventually a first grade teacher. Just before Stella turned one, we bought our first home in Highland Park, IL. I made the decision to pause teaching and stay home to raise our little girl. Before Stella had even turned 2, our son, Webb was born. After 4 years in Highland Park, we were expecting our 3rd child, Everett. We made one final move to our current home in Long Grove. We’re going on 5 years here in Long Grove; we love our neighborhood, schools and community! To summarize, with each move, our house, my belly, and our family grew!
Do you have child(ren)? Age(s)
Yes! We have 3 amazing children: Stella- 9, Webb- 7, and Everett will be 5 this month. We are extremely proud of each of our children. Stella is curious, precocious, and loves a good joke. She was an extremely early reader, can memorize books cover to cover, and always has an interesting fact to share. She enjoys chess; sweets, Minecraft, nature, and can impressively play the keyboard by ear. She loves all living things… especially snakes! Stella is autistic and has taught us all a thing or two about how to show kindness and compassion. As pictured, she was the honorary guest, and official puck dropper, at the Pucks for Autism Hockey Tournament at Glacier rink in 2019.
Our family is no stranger to Glacier! That brings me to Webb. Webb is a Mite on the Junior Ice Dogs, and he is training to be a goalie, “Webb the Wall,” we call him. Webb also has a love for baseball, golf, and fishing in Minnesota at both of his grandparents’ houses. Webb has an infectious personality and makes friends everywhere he goes!
Finally, we have Everett. He will be 5 this month, and is best pals with his big bro, Webb. Everett also has a love for sports; he is building up speed and stamina on the ice and on the baseball field. Our family’s love for hockey and skating also takes the shape of an outdoor rink that David puts up every year in our backyard. Complete with lights, the kids have enjoyed many night skates. Together, as a family, we enjoy tending to our vegetable garden, baking and cooking, and having epic NERF battles!
What are your favorite things to do in the area with and without your kids? Family friendly restaurant? Date night?
Family restaurant visits and date nights have been few and far between these days; however, we do have several favorites that we cannot wait to get back to. We love Historic Long Grove and try to support our town every chance we get. Whether it’s a glass of wine (or two) at Corked; a scoop of Zanzibar chocolate ice cream at the Covered Bridge Creamery; or a bag of warm popcorn from the adjacent Signature Popcorn shop, there is always something yummy to enjoy with or without kids. For a romantic, more intimate evening, David and I can’t wait to have a delicious Italian meal at Enzo & Lucia’s. There’s also the Chatterbox, Buffalo Creek Brewery, and the Long Grove Coffee Co., and for a nostalgic sweet treat, Ma & Pa’s Candy. Aside from sips and eats, there are also several shops that I love perusing. We are members at Royal Melbourne where we take advantage of the beautiful golf course, golf lessons for the kids, outdoor dining on the patio, and summer days swimming at the pool.
What youth clubs and programming can you recommend?
As far as sports, clubs, and programming for the kids, we frequent Glacier rink for hockey practices and games; Stella has attended several sessions of the Zookeeper program at the Lake Forest Wildlife Discovery Center, and Code Ninjas. We have also enrolled our children in several programs through the Buffalo Grove Park District, for example, the preschool program, chess, t-ball, baseball, and summer camp. Last but not least, we take full advantage of the beautiful nature preserves and trails in the surrounding area, Cuba Marsh and the Reed Turner Park trails are two of my favorites.
Are you involved in a business venture, a local organization, a creative endeavor or in the corporate world? Please share!
Yes! I am currently exploring a creative endeavor turned business venture. HomeByDani: Breathing New Life Into Old Things is the name of my Etsy shop that was born out of my hobby and long time love of old things. Known to have an old soul myself, I’ve always been interested in the energy, story and history of things from another time. I suppose my interest goes back to my childhood, growing up in St. Paul, MN, I can remember riding in the car as my parents drove down Summit Avenue. (With houses dating back to the 1850’s, Summit Avenue is said to be the longest stretch of Victorian houses in the country.) The Nancy Drew in me wanted to explore every nook and cranny in search of secret stairways and hidden hallways. I dreamed of going in. I wanted to know the story between the walls. The belongings we have in our homes are intentional. They have meaning. They tell of an era. This is where my hobby stems: I love rummaging through estate sales and flea markets in search of something, anything that evokes a memory, or a feeling. I like to think that some things find me that I was meant to be right there at that very moment, while that something silently waits for me. After I’ve collected a haul of things, I find joy in connecting those pieces with other people who may not have ever found them otherwise.
HomeByDani provides a channel for me to sell the items I find so much joy in finding. Also, perhaps you have a vision for a space in your home, office, or business that incorporates unique “found” items. Let me help you find that perfect one-of-kind piece, or help you to create a memorable vignette. I relish the idea of finding a place for things of the past in today’s home.
What are some examples of projects HomeByDani has done in the past, and what are you open to doing going forward?
“Breathing New Life Into Old Things” can take many forms. In the past, I have refinished MCM dressers, buffets, dining sets, and retro MCM lounge chairs. I have also given rooms a face-lift by refinishing bathroom cabinets and redesigning a laundry room by removing wallpaper, painting, and collaborating with Star Closets (Will Green) to incorporate custom cubbies for coats, backpacks and shoes. I also turn vintage and antique décor items into centerpieces, wall art, and more! Going forward, I would love to continue selling my found treasures on Etsy, and I would love to work more with my community as a creative project service. For example, perhaps you need help sourcing vintage or antique décor items for an event: wedding centerpieces, seasonal projects, or other celebrations. I can also work with you to create a unique space in your home. For instance, you may want to redo a child’s room and you’d like to incorporate cool vintage or retro items. To illustrate, my son has a baseball bedroom; I once found a frail newspaper from the time of baseball hero, Babe Ruth’s, passing. I framed it behind glass, and now it’s an awesome, one-of-a-kind, décor item… and a preserved piece of history! Additionally, I have a large collection of “first man on the moon” newspapers, a large assortment of vintage USA space articles, and several vintage space-related magazine covers. Wouldn’t these make an awesome gallery wall for a child’s room, child’s learning space, playroom, or den? First come, first serve!
*Friendly disclaimer: It takes time to find the perfect things, especially if you are trying to accumulate a collection, (for a wall display, table centerpieces, etc.) If you are working with a deadline, please reach out far enough in advance so I can get finding! Services as described, are just as unique as the treasures I find. The cost of the actual items, any materials or supplies needed, and my time, may vary. Never hesitate to reach out to discuss your vision and the possible cost.
Describe why your community is so important to you and your family.
Our community is 100% why we live where we live. From amazing friends and neighbors, to a close knit business community, to the absolute best, top-rated teachers and school staff. I take great pride in my community and support those within it every opportunity I get. My children are happy and thriving because of the love and support that surrounds them no matter where we go! We are greeted by name at Sunset Foods; my kids see friends and teammates around town, and David has forged life-long relationships with parents and players as coach of several hockey and baseball teams. As for me, I truly have the most remarkable Mom friends. We all support each other’s endeavors. We help each other in a pinch. We can rely on each other. They say it takes a village, and I couldn’t be more thankful or proud to call this community my “village”.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
During my studies at the University of Minnesota, I was an active member of the MN Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi. The history, tradition and sisterhood won me over. No surprise there! I held office as both Chapter Secretary and Membership Educator. Some of my best college memories were made within the walls of that historic house and with my fellow angels.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten from another Mom?
Where do I begin! The most valuable piece of advice I’ve ever received is to take time for myself. I’ve learned that I am of no help to anyone if I am burnt out and uninspired. As I look back on my early years of being a mom, I smile. Every little milestone was so new and exciting. The joy is immeasurable. All that being said, being a mom can be really tough! There was a period of time where the unknown weighed me down. I was tired, and I didn’t always understand what was happening around me. What road are we heading down? What is this going to look like? What can I do? I am referring to my daughter’s autism diagnosis. We have come so far, learned so much, and I know that I have grown immensely as a mother. I know now, after lots of reflection, that things haven’t gotten easier because the situation has changed, things have gotten easier because we’ve worked hard to build a strong network of support for ourselves as parents, for our daughter, and for our family as a whole. Furthermore, a friend recently gave me a valuable piece of advice; she challenged me to put myself out there. “You have great things to offer; this is just the beginning,” she smiled and reassured me. Her vote of confidence and encouragement was exactly what I needed to hear. Exactly what I need to believe.
What are your favorite places to travel near and far and why?
David and I were both born and raised in Minnesota. It holds a special place in our hearts, and we make a point to take an annual trip up north every summer. Our parents, siblings, and their growing families call MN home as well. Stella, Webb and Everett are very fortunate to have two sets of grandparents that live on lakes, which means summer trips filled with boating, fishing, bonfires, fish fry walleye dinners, pull tabs and meat raffles. (Some of our friends didn’t know what the two latter things were until we schooled them on MN pastimes, you’re welcome!) As far as traveling beyond MN, I speak for both David and myself when I say that our best “big” trip would have to be when we ventured to Italy. We explored the Amalfi coast, and I loved every second of it. The cliffside views, the larger-than-life lemons, (and Limóncello, of course), the teeny tiny towns that seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly, and need I say, the pasta, the pasta, and the pasta.
Tell me about your favorite book/s. I love receiving fiction and non-fiction recommendations!
To be honest, I don’t read nearly as much as I would like to, however, currently on my nightstand sits author Glennon Doyle’s, Untamed. A lot of what she writes resonates with me on many different levels. I appreciate how she shares her journey of self-discovery, self worth, and finding her voice.
What is next for you?
I hope to continue to do what makes me happy. HomeByDani is a seed that has been planted, and it has definitely been fun to watch it grow. I’ll continue to escape out of the house on weekends to find the next sale, and I’ll continue to list my treasures so that others may have the chance to find that perfect little thing for themselves or to give as a gift. I have no idea how it will transform, what shape it may take, or even better, what it will lead to. And I’m okay with that! I’m here, I’m open, and I can’t wait! Having something else, whether it’s pursuing my creative endeavor or exploring this business opportunity, creates balance in my life– balance that will in turn make me a better Mom.