Home

Home is truly where the heart is. Kevin and I married May 20, 2018 and share our love of family and home. We travel to Southern Illinois to his parents home as often as possible. Our family greets us with hugs and I love you’s and we feel this love wash over us each time we step in the door. The house is full of family with his parents and siblings. A buzz of voices talking and laughter. Sounds of my childhood at my Grandma’s home when I was young. We spend the weekend sharing all that is going on in our lives and reminisce of days past. Sunday always comes too quickly and we have to say our tearful goodbyes for now.

Home with my Dad is usually a small group. Dad lives close and the door is always open. We visit and share meals and holidays. Other times we just pop in so we can see each other’s faces and get a big hug. He always has a hug and I love you when we come in. The calm of Dad’ s home envelopes us as we visit with each other. He and Kevin talk about life experiences and other things. Dad always watches us leave until we are out of his sight.

Home with my Auntie in Iowa is home away from home. We spend the weekend in their home in what I have dubbed my bedroom. Auntie and I crochet, talk patterns and share our thoughts. Kevin and Uncle join in and other times talk on their own. My cousins come and visit. Hugs and I loves you’s when we enter and when it is time for our tearful goodbyes for now.

Our home is always open to our family. Every Thursday we prepare dinner together and sit down to have a meal with our children and grandchildren. We look around the table and think of how quickly time has gone. The enjoyment we get visiting and playing is priceless.

Kevin and I share a powerful love of each other and our family. We love time spent with our loved ones. Our family fills us with love, pride, laughter, joy and food. You would not believe all the food.

We found in each other that we are home. He is home where I am and I am home where he is, we are home. Home is the place you are able to be you and you are loved for every bit of you. Our bond is that love of our world full of those we love and the beauty that surrounds us.

Happy Mileurs was born out of that love. The love of my husband and his gift to photograph the most beautiful moments. Some of these moments you may not notice. They may be in the blink of an eye or hidden. Kevin sees these moments and captures them to share with others. I wanted a place for his beautiful work to be shared with the world. We found along the way, many want to be a part of this and out of our love of art, the world where we met and fell in love, Happy Mileurs was born.

No matter how busy life is, remember home. The Happy place you go where love washes over you, people are glad to see you and it is hard to leave. Home may be with friends or your significant other or a place you like to go. Home is different for everyone. I hope you all have a ‘home’ a place you find love, peace, laughter and joy.

God bless.

The Happy Mileurs

First Friday and Solo and Ensemble – A Weekend of Enjoying the Arts

First Friday in Peoria is one of our favorites. We wander from studio to studio to see and speak with artists and view their works of art. This First Friday was the first time in a year and a half our youngest daughter and I were able to travel around to studios. The venue is marvelous and worth taking the time to check out all the locations. We began our journey at our “home” studio, where we had a shared studio, Studios on Sheridan.

We enjoyed the musical performance by Strat & Strad.

Beautiful showcase of works created by Bradley students and my favorite photographer capturing events if the evening.

Tom Pries and his beautiful sparkly earrings were in house. Tom is a very talented jeweler. His earrings are handcrafted and the crystals are fabulous!

Beau Hart of “Just Beau” studios gave us a warm welcome into the lovely world if her art. We were given a sneak peak at the piece on the table in front of her ready for framing. Her studio is warm and welcoming, the spectrum of colors she paints and draws with are calming and whimsical.

Jennifer Short of “JLS Designs” showed us around her studio full of beautiful jewelry. Jennifer has metal, stones, crystals, pendants, wire wrapped stones and more. Always a pleasure to visit with Jennifer.

Brandie Fislar of J Draper Glass LLC posed for us next to her remarkable glass creations. Brandie is a glass blower and incredible artist. J Draper Glass has a gift shop and offers classes taught by the team.

Jessica Ball and her daughter welcomes us in to view her current works of art at her studio Jessica Ball Art. Jessica paints imaginative and remarkable abstract paintings. Her studio brings a smile to my face each time I enter.

Our next stop was Glazed and Confused Pottery and Gifts. We toured the studio and we were gifted with watching the artists at work. Cyndi and Jeff have extraordinary works of art in their shop. I cannot wait to come in and work clay with these two masters.

Our last stop was The Mill, to see our old friend Gene Mialkowski. Gene and I shared a Studio at Studios on Sheridan and have collaborated on work. Here he is standing next to his current work in progress. Beautiful texture going in here. Gene-o bends his steel cold with a mechanism he created.

Tori, our daughter, and I had a fabulous journey. We visited with several artists and viewed their works of art. The two of us headed for dinner to share our favorite parts of the evening.

Saturday we headed to Bloomington-Normal for the Solo and Ensemble competition. Imagine a building the size of a small college filled with choir and band students, parents and teachers. The halls were bringing with people. Music and voice could be heard in every hall. The practice rooms filled with vocalists and instrumentalists.

Our daughter sang a solo and a duet. Two of her close friends performed in an instrumental duet. It was a remarkable day to share. Our last one as it is her senior year. Emotions were high for the group of friends. The performances stellar!

Thank you all for sharing your talents with us! We truly love the arts and it brings our hearts joy to see and hear the beauty of the world around us.

God bless.

The Happy Mileurs

Our Journey

I hope all of you are having a fantastic weekend! We decided our first surprise Guest Artist would also be a featured artist, my loving husband Kevin Mileur. The two of us are enjoying sharing our story with you and wanted to continue the journey of sharing. You can find Kevin’s story in our Feature Section under Guest Artist of the Month.

The infant stage of a company is a learning experience with a curve. This is the decision or observation Kevin and I have made in the past month. We have so many to thank for giving us the courage to be here and to continue creating and growing. It is wonderful to be here and share our love of art and why we create. In the future, we will share the stories of local artists and the art he/she creates. So much love and sharing to look forward to in the near future.

This week our Etsy store will be built and open for business. We are currently filling our shop with delights for the eye and we hope our work brings peace, love joy, smiles, positive vibes….

Our weekend has been filled with family time and creating time. Prom dress shopping for our youngest daughter, a senior already. Benjamin, our oldest grandson, came and spent the day painting and assisting with writing our next children’s book about clouds. He is the narrator of this story and says he likes helping us, so we can have a good book. From the mouths of babes. Ben keeps us on our toes and his stories are amazing. We like to include the grandchildren in the books about them to get their insight on what we are writing and how we are writing. Then, we found time for a little clay sculpting and created whimsical buttons.

Kevin and I have seven children and three grandchildren combined. Our love of God and family are our top priorities. We enjoy sharing our love of God, each other and of the beauty around us with our children and grandchildren. In doing this, we began a series of children’s books based on things we have shared with our family. We truly have so much to be thankful for in this life.

Thank you for joining us on our journey and watching us grow. I have to go for now and practice with our youngest for Solo and Ensemble competition which is next weekend. She will be performing, singing a solo and a duet on Saturday. See you all next weekend!

God Bless

The Happy Mileurs

Grand Opening!

We are officially open! We are thrilled to be here and hope all of you enjoy the art! Our online gallery is ready for viewing and artwork is available under Artists of Happy Mileurs!

Surprise Guest Artist will be revealed this week and be on display through March. Our Guest Artist will share his/her story and original artwork. An artist statement will also be published.

Later this week our Etsy Shop, HappyMileurs, will be open for business! We look forward to where this journey takes us and are so excited to share with all of you!

Be sure to stop in and see what is new and exciting here at Happy Mileurs!

God bless.

Kevin and Heather Mileur

The Happy Mileurs

The Birth of Happy Mileurs

The birth of Happy Mileurs is out of love for my husband, art and the world around us. Kevin and I enjoy our photography excursions. We drive along the Illinois River Road and stop along the way to capture moments in the world around us. There are moments we do not photograph due to being involved with the beauty of the moment, we etch those moments to memory. Our love of one another and of art is our driving force, the heart of Happy Mileurs.

A few months ago we began photographing our work together and found an outpouring of love. This sparked our curiosity and reignited our shared dream. An online mini emporium featuring Kevin’s work and my own side-by-side. We left our shared studio to embark on our new adventure. I wanted to have a space for Kevin to show his work and share with the world that surrounds us.

In December we announced the closing of our shared studio and held our final First Friday. The evening, I have to admit, was bittersweet. Now, we would begin our new journey and see where the road takes us. Kevin spoke with several artists about our endeavor. We found many wanted to come on this journey with us and are excited about the possibilities.

We are excited to announce tomorrow is our grand opening of Happy Mileurs online mini emporium. The first two months will be Kevin’s photography, my artwork and our collaborated work. Our Etsy shop will open tomorrow showcasing our work as well. The buzz around our home can be heard for miles.

Our third month we will welcome new artists to Happy Mileurs. We will provide marketing, promotion, online presence and sales for each artist. Each month we will welcome a guest artist, share the artist’s story and showcase artwork in our online gallery. We feel it is important to learn about each artist, why he or she creates and what is the inspiration behind the work. The heart behind the work.

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow during our online grand opening. Come in and take a look around. Relax with a cup of coffee or tea. Send us a message, comment or email and let us know how we are doing. Kevin and I hope you enjoy what you see and hope to hear from you! Enjoy, be safe and God bless!

Our Story – Our Wedding Part 2

The day has arrived! We all wake early on May 20th, the house is abuzz with excitement. All of us together talking about our list of things to do before the wedding. Kevin’s mom and I start writing, she requested I write our story, our family coming together and who each piece of my dress represents. Louise, Kevin’s Mom, and I make the final adjustments on the dress and the letter.


It was time to head to the lodge when my dad called to let us know he was ready, so we headed out to meet him. I cried when I saw him. Here was my Dad all dressed up and ready to walk me down the aisle. We arrived and the Lodge was perfect! A deck in back overlooks the lake; the inside is intimate and well lit. Imagine all the sisters, his parents, my dad and us decorating the lodge. It was beautiful when we finished! We were then told to go back to the house while the girls completed the finishing touches. A surprise wedding! Truly wonderful!

Soon it was time to get ready. My sister-in-law Annie who would be standing with me at the wedding helped me into my dress and put on my make-up. She spoiled me and welcomed me lovingly into the family. She helped calm my nerves and make me feel loved. All the sisters worked to make this day perfect. Kevin had gone with the guys to get ready and we would meet at the lodge. My dad drove me to the location and we parked and talked for a bit. A few minutes later we walked inside and Kevin and I caught a glimpse of each other before his sister shut the door.

I heard Louise read our story and the applause. Melba, Kevin’s sister, opened the door and told me it was time. My dad took my hand and told me all would be fine and he wished my mom could be there with us to see me happy. As we walked down the aisle side-by-side, my dad said, “Slow down, there is no rush, enjoy this moment, you two have the rest of your life to stand together. Look at your future husband, he is smiling and he is full of love for you. Heather this one is forever.”

Raymond began the ceremony and my dad gave me away with a smile. Our beginning prayer was one Raymond had written for us, for strength and unity. Here we stood Kevin and I in the middle facing our family, Kevin’s oldest son and Dad next to him, my youngest daughter and my sister-in-law next to me. We exchanged vows that were beautiful and heartfelt. We were pronounced husband and wife, we kissed and our today to forever began as husband and wife.

It was so amazing! We are blessed our family was there with us. The food was bountiful and home style. Devin, Kevin’s son, gave a toast that filled my heart with joy. We celebrated our union with our loved ones. Afterward, we headed to a local bar and shared a drink and a toast on our own. We held hands and spoke with love to one another. The next day we would leave for our honeymoon and visit the Great Smoky Mountains. We spent 10 fantastic days away and it was like a dream. Sharing this alone time was remarkable.

June 2nd we celebrated our union with friends and family here at the Studios on Sheridan where we began. Steve and Michelle surprised us with a band for our event, The Rosser Brothers. So many family, friends and local artists came to share in our joy. We were overwhelmed by so many coming and wishing us well. Blessings. It was a remarkable evening shared with many.

Our wedding was a surprise planned by Kevin’s family with love of us in mind. We feel truly blessed to have so much love in our lives. Sharing our day with our loved ones and enjoying our time. Kevin and I look forward to a lifetime of joy shared side-by-side. We look forward to continuing to make good memories and enjoy the beauty of the world around us.

Our Story – Our Wedding! Part 1

Welcome back! We are so glad to see you and share our story with all of you. Kevin and I chose our wedding date on our drive home. We were so excited and did not want a long engagement. May 20th is the date that stood out to both of us, so it was decided. The next three months were a whirlwind of activity and excitement.

Our planning began the day of our engagement. We sat at the table with his mom and sisters, chose our wedding colors and flowers. I remember crying tears of joy from all of the excitement, but also tears of sadness that my mom could not be there with us. Blue and purple would be our colors, roses and dahlias our flowers. Kevin would wear the suit his brother and sister-in-law gifted to him. I would wear a blue satin dress and both of us would wear our cowboy boots. We wanted our wedding to be ours. Everyone had a task and a deadline, the organizing with Louise at the wheel was seamless.

Kevin and I talked about our upcoming union and how our dreams had come true, our prayers had been answered. We finally found our one. Such a blessing! In this I talked to him about how in our families the women are strong and loyal. I wanted something to tie us all together, to represent each of us united. My dress would be this piece I spoke of with him. A message was sent to the women in both families, in Kevin and I uniting as one our families will be one and I want something to represent this union. Each woman was asked to send a doily, beads or something that could be sewn onto my dress. The girls loved the idea and send items to be sewn on to represent each woman.

The big day arrived so quickly, but at times felt so far way. We received a call from Kevin’s sister Joyce the day we were leaving to head home for our big day. The levy had broken, there was a flood and over 20 communities were without water. She had told us any family travelling may need to make new arrangements for a place to stay. We called our family and let them know of the possible need for new accommodations. Our outside wedding would need to be moved inside due to the heavy rainfall.

We arrived that evening, visited with family. and talked about how glad we were that the day was finally here. The next morning we would head to Murphysboro to get our marriage license. When we arrived at the courthouse we were informed it was the only courthouse open due to the levy break. Blessings our way, we were able to get our marriage license! The clerk told us we must be meant to be considering the odds of that courthouse being the only one open in Southern Illinois. We agreed, took each other by the hand and nearly skipped out the door.

News arrived that the levy had been repaired and water had been restored. Our family members travelling were able to keep their accommodations. The sun was shining! Our family arrived on Saturday, the wedding set for Sunday. Annie, Kevin’s sister-in-law, made a wonderful meal for us and gave us our blessing. She is quite something wonderful, she gave us our own personal blessing and prayer for a happy loving marriage and shared life. We are blessed in so many ways and have so much love!

We are thankful our family helped to plan and organize our wedding. Phone calls and visits were a major necessity so we all stayed on the same page. Louise making sure our day would represent us. Our family safely in town and ready to share our big day with us! Dreams really do come true. Prayers really do get answered.

Please come visit next week to read about our wedding and reception. So much to share it will be two parts. We are so glad you are here and hope you continue to come back. We have so much to share!

Our Story – He Proposed!

First, we want to thank everyone that has been following our posts and welcome first time readers. Kevin and I share a love of the beauty around us and photography. To this day Kevin and I still continue to share our love of photography by going on drives and stopping to capture the beauty around us. We enjoy seeing the world through each other’s eyes. Together we are sharing our love of family, nature and growing stronger as a couple. We spend all our free time together. Holidays were spent together with family. Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his family.

Christmas with Kevin’s family was like going back in time to big family Christmas’ of years past with my Mom’s family. It was such a wonderful time! Christmas is when Kevin said to his dad, “When Heather and I get married we will have a good life.” His dad, Murl, looked over at me and smiled. I said, “He hasn’t asked yet.” Murl responded, “Oh, he will and I hope you say yes.” My heart sang, he was going to ask. On the next First Friday, Kevin stopped in and asked me to hold out my hand. He slid a ring on my ring finger and said, “That should work.'” then walked around the corner. The visitors in our shared studio smiled and asked if there was anything I wanted to share. I truly had no idea what he was up to.

February approached and Kevin asked if I would like to come home with him to visit with his family. I told him I would love to. We headed out on the 17th and spent the weekend with his parents and siblings. All of us laughing, talking, sharing meals. Once everyone had arrived the 18th, Kevin and his Mom went in the other room to talk quietly. Soon after, his mom, Louise, came in the living room and asked us all to sit down and be quiet because Kevin had something to say. Kevin was now down on one knee holding his hand out to me. I stood and went to him crying from joy, at that point he was crying, and his family began crying too.

Kevin’s family said, “Wait! Is this really happening right now? Don’t start yet, or start over we need our cameras.” Now, any other time we all would have had our phones nearby but not on this day. We laugh when thinking about that moment. Kevin began again, “Heather Ranae will you be my wife and share my life with me?” I said, “Yes!” before he could finish his proposal. He opened the ring box to the most beautiful amethyst ring set in silver, amethyst is the love stone and my favorite. He had commissioned my engagement ring with Bronwyn, a local artist, to have something as unique as I am. When he told me this, I cried deeply. This man sees me and has given me the gift of seeing him. We are blessed.

In no time at all, his Mom was at the table with pen and paper and we were planning our wedding. All of his sisters were there helping make plans and deciding which part each would handle. His family would do the organizing at home and we would do what we could from our home. An outside wedding in the backyard at his parents’ home. Our wedding date was set for May 20th and his brother would perform the ceremony. We talked all the way home about our love for each other and the excitement of our upcoming union.

A handful of months ago we met and fell in love. He proposed and I said yes without hesitation. We feel very blessed that family could be with us on this day and share in our moment. In three short months we will be married. Life is beautiful!

Our Story – Continued

Kevin and I continue to talk and learn about each other over the next several months. I find myself arriving at the Studios at the same time on Fridays, in hopes of another visit with Kevin. He is easy to talk to and I get lost in his eyes and the sound of his voice. Kevin admitted later he thought I was cute and knew what time I would generally arrive at the Studios.

August 26th, on this day we are both brave. We have what I call a “Must Love Dogs” moment. Kevin and I discuss our past relationships but do not mention any current. At this moment we realize we have had many of the same experiences and have decided maybe life alone is our future. We establish our top priority is our family, which is amazing. Each taking turns on the soap box stating our views on life, love and society.

Kevin tells me he is single but not really looking. I confirm I am single and not looking. Kevin then says, “Wait! You aren’t dating anyone?”. I respond, “No, I’m not dating anyone.” Kevin, “Then we should go to dinner.” I respond, “Yes, we should.” He then tells me to call or text him with a good time to meet. He finally asked, I was going to give him two more weeks then ask him out myself. I am so excited, I enter the door to the hall leading to my studio and start skipping. Then I realize I don’t have his number, but we are friends on Facebook. I hear my name, it’s Kevin, calling me to give me his business card. I sheepishly open the door, wondering if he saw me skipping down the hall. He looked through three pockets before he found his card. He smiled and handed the card to me. (I still carry that business card with me).

I arrive at home and tell my children the news. My daughters say wait for a day then call or text. My sons say call or text him now. I followed my sons’ advice. Kevin and I texted off and on the rest of the evening. Saturday would be our first date. We decide to visit at his home, on the front porch and we discuss everything under the sun. Five hours of talking and laughing, sharing our life experiences. We have our first kiss and later admit to each other we saw fireworks and stars.

He walks me to my car as I leave and asks what I am doing the next day. I respond, “If you are asking, I am spending time with you. ” Kevin smiles and says,”See you tomorrow.” Our first dinner out together, Kevin announced,”I can’t wait for you to meet my folks and my family, they are going to love you!” Two weeks later we said I love you for the first time. By the end of September I met his family and we all loved each other. His mom pulled me off to the side and said, “I am glad my son found you, a woman that loves him and I can see he loves you back.” I asked how she knew and she told me a Mama knows.

I am thankful we were both brave and said yes to another chance with love. We believe in love at first sight and are glad we were patient and found the one. Kevin and I hope you are enjoying learning about us and our beginning. We want to share with you our beginning and what led us to becoming Happy Mileurs.

Our Story – The Beginning

We met at the Studios on Sheridan in Peoria, Illinois in April 2017. Our meeting was divine, we shared our story with one another. A raw look into each other’s souls so to speak. Kevin a retired Prison Guard and me a representative at an insurance company. Both of us passionate about the arts. We spoke about not really fitting in but the comfort we found in the arts and how we felt we fit in well in this world. He held my hand and looked in my eyes, my heart stopped and I knew.

Kevin went to First Fridays at the Studios with a friend and enjoyed visiting with the artists on open studio nights. He decided three years ago to take a part time job in the building and is the photographer for the First Friday event. After working in prisons, he wanted to remember to see the beauty in the world after seeing so much sadness. He adventures along river road and captures beautiful photographs of wildlife and nature. Kevin says, “God creates the pictures, I just take them.” A humble and goodhearted man. Kevin is an excellent photographer and has the ability to capture a person’s essence and natural state in photography. His nature and wildlife photographs capture eagles in flight and the stillness of nature. Kevin’s photography speaks to your soul.

I went to First Fridays with my daughters and met local artists. We enjoyed viewing the art and hearing the artists’ stories of how and why they create. One First Friday my oldest daughter and I met Gene Mialkowski. I shared my passion for art with him and we became fast friends. He gave me the courage to reach out to Preston Jackson, a Master Artist, who later taught me the art of sculpting. In March of 2017, I was visiting my Auntie in Iowa and collecting materials for our weekend of creating. I remember telling her if only I could share a studio with an artist it would be affordable. We finished shopping and as we arrived at the car my phone rang, it was Gene-o. He called to invite me to share a studio with him at Studios on Sheridan for the exact amount I had stated would work. My Auntie responded, “God really is in Hobby Lobby.”

Gene-o and I moved into our studio on April 1, 2017 and held our first open studio on First Friday, April 7th. The date April 7th is near and dear to me and significant. My Mom passed away in 2011, her birthday is April 7th. She could not be present physically for my first open studio but being able to have such an event on her birthday is a tribute to her. I met Kevin while Gene-o and I moved into our studio. As Gene-o and I prepared for our work to be in the public eye, Kevin was checking to see if we had everything ready before opening our studio doors for our initial First Friday.

Our meeting was divine. Two people, different backgrounds, a passion for art and nature, now together. We are thankful his friend invited him to First Fridays and my friend invited me to share a studio.