weekend update

This weekend on the farm:

We finished our spring seeding. Now we just pray for rain!

Spring seeding wasn't entirely uneventful. If the seeder looks a little . . . wonky to you in this photo, that's because it had just broken an axle. It is a monster piece of equipment (this photo doesn't do it justice) and it is a little disconcerting to have just it just . . . break. It can be overwhelming sometimes to think about the size of things on the farm. Everyone has problems, but on the farm those problems can be VERY BIG problems. My parents spent a couple of days over Easter weekend running to Canada for the parts needed to fix the axle, and they were up and running again shortly after. Could have been worse.

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago while on a run on the bluffs overlooking Fort Benton. Things are greening up. I love spring!

In other news, basketball (of course).

Abby finished up her season with a 10-0 record. Sarah has one week left. Both girls played in a 3-on-3 tourney this weekend. Abby is an old pro but this was Sarah's first. 

I think the remarkable thing about the photo above is the dramatic difference in height between the two girls. (3 years age difference). Eva might be tall like her sister Abby!

This is Sarah's cute team. They finished strong in second place.

Abby's team took first place. The team they played in the Championship game were girls from their own Flight traveling team (right). They were all great sports and enjoyed playing each other. 

I turned another year older this weekend, too. Just one more reminder how fast time flies. I looked at old photos of the girls as babies. Wah! It just reminds me how important it is to record these moments because in a few short years we will be looking back on these busy days with faded memories and wistful nostalgia. 

baby McKenzie

When I launched my design business Joellyn Clark Designs, I included photography as part of my services, along with Interior Design and Graphic Design. I thought it was important to have a diverse skill set to get enough business in my small rural area, and so far I have kept busy with projects in all three areas. 

I have had a hard time having the courage to share my photo work here on the blog. You see, I have worked with some really really amazing photographers in my career as a designer, and I know how hard each of them have worked to refine their craft and how competitive and difficult a field it is to make a living. I know how expensive equipment can be and how much they have invested. I can't/won't even pretend to compete at their level, nor do I want to make as big as an investment into this area. I don't and probably won't ever have a studio. I prefer to shoot with natural light in natural settings. However, I kept getting requests to do photography, and I figured I might as well get paid for what I am doing. My design background is an asset and I do know I at least I have more skill than the average person with a digital camera. And so, I am going to make an effort to share some of my work here. 

And to those afore mentioned Photographers I know and love (you know you you are), I welcome your feedback and criticisms because I know how valuable it is to learn from others. Working alone can be difficult sometimes and I miss that element of support!

Without further ado, here is the beautiful baby McKenzie, born back in December. I could cuddle and smell her sweet baby smell all day long.


Easter weekend recap

We just enjoyed a quick weekend at Nana and Papa's in Bozeman to celebrate Easter. Nana made it fun for the kids with all the usual festivities.

The kids dyed the eggs and we used them to decorate our Easter dinner table.

My pictures are all dark and moody because that was the weekend weather. The kids didn't enjoy their Easter egg hunt any less because they were getting rained on, nor did the intermittent snow storms dampen the mood. The kids all agreed it was the most fun weekend!

Thank you, Nana and Papa!

A Living Room Refresh

I'd like to share with you another long-distance project I had the privilege of working on. This client was looking for a living room refresh. The problems were common ones: builder beige colors and finishes, too-large, adequate but blah furniture warehouse furniture, and a general lack of design direction. (This is where we all start, isn't it? We buy the furniture that is easily accessible and what we can afford and acquire things slowly, and sometimes it is hard to pull it all together into a cohesive look.)

I was given some before photos and very little design direction. I learned from this project that sometimes people don't know what they want until they see what they DON'T want. It is all about the process. In this case the client's only requests were to keep the original paint color, flooring, and sofas (which were comfy and far from the end of their life).

BEFORE

I just love the couch cushions all over the floor! This is real life, and speaks to how the room is used.

ROOM LAYOUT

My first focus was to address the layout. The half wall by the entrance felt awkward with the couch where it was, but removing the wall was not an option because the flooring was staying in place. Plus, it helped to define the main entrance area. The back of the second sofa faced the dining room, and the result was not very Feng Shui. 

Through 3-D SketchUp drawings I was able to convince the client that eliminating one of their sofas would help tremendously with the layout issues, opening up the traffic flow between rooms. (Buying matching sofa/love seat sets are what most of us do—it's what I did—but it is rarely the best design decision). They agreed they could sell one piece and invest instead in a comfortable chair that would fit the space better.

This is where I made a crucial mistake, however. Several days later they came back to me and said this arrangement was NOT going to work for one critical reason. This space was not just a living room, it was their family room and only TV watching space. Comfortable viewing distance was paramount and having the sofa not face the TV was a deal breaker. 

Rethinking the layout, we decided we could keep the love seat instead of the sofa (it was rarely used in the old layout and so it was in better condition anyway). They could instead sell the big sofa and buy 2 smaller sized chairs. The shorter sofa plays better with the half wall. This layout dictated a round coffee table for better traffic flow. 

Most importantly, no furniture was blocking the entrance and flow into the dining room.

We also explored the option of adding a fireplace to this wall. While it would be a nice addition (and it could still be added at any time), I showed them how they could make this wall more of a focal wall without the expense of putting in a fireplace. The first design incorporated a media cabinet and bookcases. The client is not a knick-knack or clutter person, however, so the idea of filling these shelves made her realize this look wasn't for her.

Ikea is such a great source but here in Montana where we are 2 states away from the nearest store, I usually try to avoid it. In this case, though, it was the perfect solution. Even with high shipping costs, their products are cost effective enough to still make it a good option. We ended up reworking the media wall with some Ikea media pieces and closed storage, mixed with a few handmade wood shelves.

DESIGN PLAN

Since the room was a beige box and the canvas wasn't going to change, and neighboring rooms used very earth tone colors, I chose my design direction to work with that. I brightened up the look of the room by adding more white, which was already present in their trim color.

To level out all of the warm tones, I mixed in warm grays and black and white accents. 

They wanted a plan they could incorporate over time, so the room in in progress. I've noted below the things they have purchased thus far with an asterisk (*). 

Cotton Geo Lattice Curtains, West Elm*, Chosen for the light and airy quality to brighten up the room, even though they had blinds and didn't need them functionally.

Autumn in New York Art Print, framed, Minted.com*  I just love oversized photography and it suited their clean style. This print set the color them for the room. Minted has such a great selection of art prints at fair prices and you can order them already framed which just saves an extra step.

Axis Ceiling Fan, Restoration Hardware   Light fixtures can be a hard thing to invest money in, especially when you have fixtures that function just fine, but they can have a huge impact on your room. They are like the jewelry for your room and can finish off the look. In their case, the ceiling fan was useful so we stuck with that. I recommended this more polished version. 

The original plan featured this white stairway bookcase and this Chill media console from CB2, but as I mentioned above we changed course and instead purchased components from the Ikea Besta line.*

Boardwalk-Andes Granite Bench Cushion from Crate and Barrel  The plan was to use a bench cushion on top of the media console on the window side to create a window seat. The cushion was purchased and later returned and that plan was scrapped. Money better spent elsewhere.

Like on these fabulous pillows: Beasley Yellow, Crate and Barrel, Studded Velvet Pillow in Horseradish from West Elm*, and the Woven Isle Pillow from CB2. These pillows were all important factors in carrying the color story throughout the room and tying in the beige sofa.

Heathered Hand-Loomed Rug from Pottery Barn.*  I hope to see this rug in person at some point because the photos look beautiful. I love the texture and the warm gray color to balance out all the brown.

This Chevron Coffee Table from CB2 is a fun choice, but now we will look for similar characteristics in a round option instead.

The Go-cart Rolling Side Table from CB2* is inexpensive and brought the white accents across the room. We also liked the playful industrial style to keep the room feeling casual.

Avery Table Lamp from Crate and Barrel.*  They actually didn't immediately order this lamp. It seemed like a lot to spend for just a lamp, and they wanted to wait to see if they could find something else they liked that was less expensive. After awhile they decided to invest in this one, and they love how it looks.

This specific black and white pouf was from Target and is no longer available. However, any type of pouf provides extra casual seating and would be perfect for game nights with the kids. I liked the black and white pattern and texture in this option.

And last but not least, the Cavett Leather Chair from Crate and Barrel. Oh this chair. I am absolutely in love with this chair . . . oops, sorry, that is my drool all over it. But I confess, the clients didn't love it. For them, comfort is key, so they will be looking for something with upholstered arms. They need to keep it on the small side (since there is now a pair of them in the layout) and look for something with legs and space underneath to keep the room from feeling closed in and heavy. 

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I hope you enjoyed this little tour. I have been dragging my feet about posting about some of my design work. Partly because these posts take a lot of time to write. And partly because I like to have photos of the finished room to share. But in reality many projects happen like this—over a long period of time, and for many it takes a long time to get to the stage where you can style and shoot a room. Some may never get there. I do envy those big designers who have the budget to see a project from start to completion, then hire a fancy photographer and stylist to shoot it for their portfolio. I will try to do better about just sharing the process, and hopefully someday I will have some nice glossy after photos to share! Thanks for coming along for the ride, and thanks to these very cool and adventurous clients who have put their faith in me. :)

March family update

I am declaring Monday family day on the blog. After hearing over and over that I was not posting enough pictures of my family, I decided I should work a little harder at it. I hope adhering to a schedule will force me to try a little harder to post a few personal things. So hold me to it. Good? Good.

Now, where to start? There is so much. I think I will start with one massive photo dump and try to catch up in one fell swoop. 

This winter Tom took on the opportunity to coach the first Lego League team in Fort Benton. Abby participated on the team. In addition to programming a lego robot, the team also had a number of other projects to do including a research project and skit. The topic for the year was "learning", and the team took on the difficult topic of Alzheimer's Disease. Abby and I worked together to design their cool t-shirts!

The team competed in Bozeman at the state competition and met their goal of learning a lot. They even came away with a trophy for "gracious professionalism."

There have been lots of babies born close to us, and we especially enjoyed welcoming our new nephew/cousin, David! It is fun having him so close to cuddle.

I think I have mentioned before that Tom and I are participating in a Farmer's Union leadership program. We join 5 other couples (from 5 different states) for various training activities over the course of about 18 months. We recently traveled to Wichita, KS for the National Farmer's Union Convention.

Our hotel was a great place to stay right along the Arkansas River.

The conference was great and we enjoyed speeches from Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack, Gina McCarthy (EPA Administrator), and Temple Grandin. It was fun to see the policy making in process also.

The few times we were able to break away were to enjoy a run by the river with the talented and kind Katie Bangs, and after a memorable dinner with our leadership group, a stroll along the river at night. The whole trip was wonderful (minus the part of taking Tom to the ER to get antibiotics for strep throat. Ugh.)  The girls stayed with Grandpa and Grandma and we appreciated their efforts to keep up with the girls' busy schedules.

March also took us to Spokane twice for Basketball. After Abby's junior high bball season she was asked to play on a club team in Great Falls (along with two other girls from Fort Benton). With practices an hour away 2-3 nights a week and tournaments for several weekends in a row, it wasn't a small effort, but we really had fun. The team is quite successful, so in order to seek out some stiffer competition, the team traveled to Spokane for a tournament there.

We enjoyed the family time together despite the extra miles to get there. Here we are enjoying a meal at Olive Garden.

Eva is a great sport and a great traveler!

Here is the Flight team after the came away with a first place finish in Spokane! The competition was stiffer, but the girls stepped up and met the challenge. Because of this, they were invited back two weeks later for a Tournament of Champions (all teams who had won tournaments throughout the year). So two weeks later we trekked back to Spokane. This time the girls won 3 of 4 games. The team the fell to had just finished an 86-1 season! To say the least, we were proud of their accomplishments, and we were proud of Abby's contribution.

We did a lot of basketball watching also. The Fort Benton Longhorn girls made it to Divisional tournaments. Abby's 6th grade class was called on to cheer with and support our first ever Longhorn Mascot. The Longhorn school spirit is alive and well. I love the picture above because the several of the Great Falls Flight girls came to support our Fort Benton girls and cheer for us.

This is how Eva and her buddy endures the hours of basketball. An ipad and a comfy place to crash- even the team's gym bags!

In Spokane, one of the facilities where we played had purchased the old Delta Center Jazz Basketball floor. Tom of course had to take advantage of the photo op! Oh, and I can't forget to mention that John Stockton himself was coaching a boys team, and Tom was able to walk up to him and say hi. A starstruck moment for him. 

Abby is done with her Flight season and has moved on to playing 5-6th grade basketball with her Fort Benton team. Sarah is playing basketball right now also! I don't have pictures yet of her in uniform. 

This year was Sarah's last year to participate in Junior Cheerleading. She really enjoyed this program.

They got to perform at a school assembly and at half time of one of the varsity games.

Starting them young! Total cuties.

No basketball for Eva yet, but she is enjoying her first year dancing. She pliés everywhere she goes. We love her energy!

Hopefully you enjoyed this update. I will hopefully be back for more next week!

Feng Shui Friday — Becoming Unbusy

To me Feng Shui is just about peace and simplicity. Right now my house is not very Feng Shui and if you are here for inspiring photos of beautifully organized spaces, you will not find it here. Today at least. As I juggle the myriad of activities in my life, the house has trickled to the bottom of the priority list and for now, that is just the way it is.

Today Feng Shui is about peace and simplicity in my LIFE (not just my space), so I was inspired by this article : A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy, by Becoming Minimalist.

“‘Busy’ has become the new ‘Fine’.” As in, when you ask somebody how they were doing, they used to answer, “Fine.” But nowadays, everybody answers, “Busy.”
— Jeff Shinabarger, A Story of More or Less

From this video. Watch it. Food for thought.

And this:

Stop the glorification of busy. Busy, in and of itself, is not a badge of honor. In fact, directed at the wrong pursuits, it is actually a limiting factor to our full potential. It is okay to not be busy. Repeat this with me: It is okay to not be busy.
— Becoming Minimalist

Today my mission is to focus on the good things in life. Relationships, love, joy... and let go of the fake ideal of all the things I think I need to accomplish. I'd like to spend my time wisely.

Happy Friday!

Feng Shui Friday — what is really essential?

A couple of weeks ago I was really feeling sorry for myself because I had managed to dump my brand new iPhone 6 in the toilet. It was a goner despite my greatest efforts to dry it out. It ruined my day. Maybe even ruined my weekend. I was very unhappy with myself; for being greedy and having to splurge on the latest and best model, for being stingy and not buying insurance, and for now having to spend even more money now on something that I considered essential to my daily life.

Then I ran across this excellent article online "When Bread Bags Weren't Funny" and felt even worse about myself. No, I felt better. I felt more relaxed about being patient and waiting to spend the money to replace my phone. I felt less distressed. It's just money. It's just a phone.

The premise of this article is about how as Americans we have so much wealth today that we forget how life was even a generation or two ago. We laugh at the idea that one might use bread bags to cover their shoes because they might not own a pair a boots. We forget that owning even one pair of shoes was a luxury. For MOST of the country, not just a small percentage of unfortunate.

In every generation, we forget how much poorer we used to be, and then we forget that we have forgotten.
— Megan McArdle

I have been guilty of teasing my mom for keeping old butter and cool whip containers to store leftovers in instead of buying tidy new Gladware containers that stack perfectly in the cupboard. I'm sorry for this.

We are a blessed generation. Or are we? The more we have, the less thankful we are. This article was a good reality check. It makes me not only want to purge and streamline my possessions, it makes me want to carefully evaluate any new purchases I make. It makes me want to question what I consider to be truly essential.

Lego table

Since we haven't been making much progress on big projects, I thought I would share a small win instead. Since Christmas our dining room table had been taken over as a Lego playground. The kids were playing with them constantly. And since I think Legos are one of the best toys ever in the way of constructive playing, I didn't want to make them clean them up. 

My solution came by way of an IKEA hack. I had this IKEA Lack coffee table in my storage room because we were no longer using it. I recently tackled a storage room clean-out and had set this table out in my huge pile of ReStore/Goodwill donations. Fortunately, this brainstorm happened in the nick of time. It would make the perfect lego table!

We simply used some 1x2 boards we had laying around and cut them to make 3 separate compartments. (The Barbie set above is a different brand so it is nice to have separate areas so the sets won't be mixed up.) The boards prevent the pieces from scattering all the over the floor! Tom screwed them into the table from the bottom. We left them unfinished and the blend nicely with the table finish. 

The shelf underneath can hold containers of their other sets. Simple, easy, perfect! I even have a glass top to set over the top if I ever want to use it without the dividers.

We put the table in the basement, but already noticed the girls don't play with them as much. Since it is easy to move I think we will bring it up to our living room or into the girls bedrooms. At least it isn't on our dining room table!

 



Christmas cards and more

( SPOILER ALERT - CHRISTMAS CARDS REVEALED BELOW )

So, I guess if you usually get a card from us and would rather see it in person first, you might want to skip this post. Otherwise, carry on. :)

I tried a new vendor for my Christmas cards this year, and I am so happy with them I just had to share. I recently ordered an art print for a client through Minted, and realized I really liked their card designs as well. So when the time came to order mine this year, I payed them another visit.

See, the cool thing about Minted is that they take submissions from designers anywhere. Those designs are voted on and then sold on Minted. Most of their options are modern and clean, which appeals to me. I had no problem finding lots of options I liked. The problem was narrowing it down.

But the BEST THING about it? They print the recipient address on your envelopes for you!! For free! (Well, I should be clear. You pay a little bit more up front on Minted than through some other popular sources, but their quality is way better.) Yes, that is in bold because I think it is SO IDEAL and I want to shout it from the rooftops.

I absolutely LOVED this service—both for how it looked and the time it saved me! I usually print my address file onto labels. This time I just uploaded my addresses in an Excel file when I ordered my cards and they printed them right on the envelopes. They look so professional! 

I also payed a little bit extra to upgrade the paper to a thick recycled stock (because I'm a design nerd and care a great deal about the quality of the paper) and ordered skinny wrap return address labels that you see above.

We just snapped our family photo last minute with a self-timer in our living room. And sometimes I like the simple black and white snapshots the best anyway!

I know it's a little late to be posting about this, but in case you are behind the eight ball this year (me, many times) and haven't yet ordered your cards, I highly recommend Minted

DISCLAIMER: The links above are affiliate links, meaning if you click on the links in this post to go to Minted and place an order, I will get a small kickback from them in turn for sending them your business. Good for them, good for me, and good for you. Win, win, right?

 

I didn't always take the time to do Christmas cards, but I started probably 7 or 8 years ago and have done them ever since. I love connecting with people that way and really love getting cards in the mail also. As a designer I feel the pressure to make it amazing every year, but I'm leaning every year to more simplicity. Not just in my Christmas cards. This year we did 90% of our shopping online and it was wonderful. Let the stores come to me, I say. UPS and Fed Ex are getting tired of our gravel roads, I'm sure. 

We also kept our decor simple. But I do love a few twinkling lights to brighten up the dark winter nights. The girls love it too and do most of the decorating work! Here is our festive little corner of our living room:

We also love all the fun Christmas programs. In addition to their regular school programs, the girls each danced in our community holiday concert, and again at the retirement home here in Fort Benton. 

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Look at Eva and her beautifully pointed toes! I am so proud that in spite of her shy nature she willingly goes up on stage and fearlessly performs. All my girls adore dancing and it is so good for their coordination and strength. 

I hope you are all able to simplify and enjoy your own holiday season. Tidings of Comfort and Joy!

kitchen with a mountain view

Since I put my shingle out as a designer I've had a few inquiries about doing long-distance projects. With a couple such projects under my belt now, I can confidently say it works quite well! Today I am excited to show you a project where our primary communication was via e-mail. This client found me when my kitchen was featured on Apartment TherapyThey do live in-state, so I was able to visit the home once before the plan was presented, and again when the project was complete to take "after" photos. 

The client provided measurements and photos of her kitchen. We discussed her wants and needs in depth through a series of questions and answers via e-mail. At that point we had the opportunity to meet in person before I finalized their plan.

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BEFORE

BEFORE

The original kitchen in this late-century ranch home felt dark and closed in. It's single window faced north, and the built in florescent box light topped the hit list. The red sink dictated the color scheme and limited their decorating options. The cabinets were showing wear and many of the doors wouldn't close properly. Otherwise, the galley style layout worked well for them. They weren't interested in opening the wall (left) to the living room, however there was an unused back door at the other end that left some opportunity to add additional space. (There is also a sliding door in the dining room that provides access to the back yard.)

I provided two 3-D layouts to them to help them visualize annexing the back door and pantry space into the kitchen area. Both designs called for removing the short end walls on either side that were non-load bearing, eliminating the soffits and florescent light box and installing can lights.

The first layout involved removing the back door all together, removing all upper cabinets on the north wall, and adding extra windows to make the kitchen feel lighter and larger and maximize their beautiful mountain views.

A second option showed the dividing walls removed but the back door still in place. The old pantry closet was replaced with cabinets to unify it with the kitchen. The single window was maintained and open shelves were added to replace the lost storage of upper cabinets.

On the opposite side, the appliance locations were maintained to save costs. We also explored the idea of glass upper cabinets to increase the light and airy feel.

The renderings helped them visualize the end result and in the end they took the leap that would give them the biggest impact—removing the back door and expanding the window. 

While their electric cooktop functioned okay, they eventually decided to make the switch to a gas stove. They opted for a range instead of a cooktop, adding a range above and eliminating the wall oven/microwave combo which provided them with extra counter space. They found a spot for their microwave by borrowing space from a coat closet and creating a niche just to the right of the refrigerator.

I also provided them with a mood board to help them make design selections since I was not involved in the shopping and sourcing portion of the project. 

I recommended a two-tone cabinet color scheme with a warm white on top and gray on the bottom. The light color would keep things light and bright, and the gray would add variety and durability to the cabinets that get the most wear. The design also included white subway tile and beautiful feature sconces from Rejuvenation above the windows. She had expressed a love for cobalt and had an inspiration photo with a stunning cobalt gas stove. I suggested that lighting might be a great opportunity to bring the color in without making a permanent commitment. (Shades could easily be swapped out later). I was thrilled that they decided to adopt the lights in their design, though they did opt for a more classic and neutral option (also from Rejuvenation).

Because their kitchen footprint expanded, they would need to either match their existing oak and refinish the entire space or replace it with something new. Their contractor found them a deal on reclaimed wood from an old gymnasium, so they chose to replace it. I love the character and warmth the new floor brings to the space.

Now for the reveal:

BEFORE

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AFTER

AFTER

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AFTER

AFTER

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AFTER

AFTER

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AFTER

AFTER

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AFTER

A few fun features in their new kitchen:

I hope you enjoyed this tour! I certainly enjoyed working on this project and seeing the transformation when it was finished. Do let me know if you have any questions about sources and I will try to track down the info for you.

 

 

new quality rug pads


Note: I was offered free rug pads in exchange for a product review. All words and opinions are my own. I will only except offers from companies I would personally use or products that are relevant to my blog content or current projects. Don't miss the discount offer below!


When Rug Pad Corner contacted me about doing a product review, I wasn't really in need of any rug pads. I was, however, working with a client who was in the process of purchasing a new rug, so I agreed to accept a pad in the size she needed. They were kind enough to also send pads for the smaller rugs I had in my girl's bedrooms.

When the pads arrived, I was immediately impressed with the quality and wished I hadn't offered to give it away to my client! :)  In the end, my client was very concerned about having a no-slip pad, and the new pad they sent is not their best option for that. Easy fix—I simply swapped the new one out for my own 8'x10' pad and passed my old one along instead. Lucky me!

The first pad they sent was their SUPERIOR 100% felt rug pad. It has the following features:

• NON SLIP: No- Best used with rugs that do not tend to slip
• PROTECTION: Resists ALL penetration to your rugs and floor
• COMFORT: Enjoy a full 1/4″ or 3/8″ thickness
• FLOORS: Approved as SAFE for Hardwood, Laminate, Tile, Vinyl, Heated and all
• ORGANIC: CRI Green Label; No adhesives; Does not off-gas or smell
• ORIGIN: Made in The USA with GENUINE American felt
• NOTE: Superior does not contain rubber, so does not prevent slipping. Smaller rugs or runners should use Ultra Premium

It was my fault for not specifying a no-slip rug pad. Without reviewing my options, I had requested their thickest, cushiest option, and it is definitely that. Here you can see how much thicker it is than my old pad:

 

At $105 for an 8 x 10 (free shipping!), this pad came out roughly double what I spent on the nothing-fancy gripper pad I had purchased from Home Depot. So the million dollar question is—would I spend the extra money next time?  Yes, I believe I would. What I love most is that it is American made and uses all natural materials. And if you have family members who are prone to allergies, it would be an even easier choice since it is completely hypoallergenic and free of off-gassing and odors.

And in an 8 x 10 size, my shag rug is definitely heavy enough to keep it in place. With my furniture on it, I haven't experienced any slipping. For smaller rugs, however, you might want to consider this next option.

For the rugs in Sarah's and Eva's rooms they sent their Ultra Premium Pad.  $64 for the 5 x 7 size, free shipping.

•  NON SLIP: Yes-  Prevents ANY rug slipping on ANY hard floor
•  PROTECTION: Resists ALL penetration and stress to rug and floor
•  COMFORT: Enjoy a FULL 1/3″ thick comfort
•  FLOORS: Approved SAFE for Hardwood, Laminate, Tile, Vinyl, Concrete, Heated and all
•  ORGANIC: CRI Green Label; No chemicals; Does not off-gas or smell
•  ORIGIN: Made in The USA with GENUINE American felt and rubber

This pad still features the thick layers of felt, so they provide plenty of cushion. The girls have white laminate floors, so I was happy to see these are considered safe for laminate. No glue and natural rubber means there will be no rub-off or staining on those white floors. And with that rubber backing, those rugs aren't going anywhere! 

So, the verdict? I would absolutely recommend these rug pads to anyone. While it maybe isn't one of the most fun things to spend your money on (it is the behind-the-scenes supporting role to the showy leading role rugs), we can all agree it is pretty important to care for your most expensive investment: your floors. And nobody likes a shifty rug.

The Rug Pad Corner website is very well designed and easy to use, which of course appeals to my designer sensibilities. Click on over and check them out. And if you find yourself needing a rug pad for your own home, as a reader of this blog you get to enjoy 15% off your purchase by using the links in this post and entering the code REVIEW15 at checkout.

Thanks for reading!

landscaping progress

You are simply going to have to forgive my negligence. How over a month slipped by since my last post is beyond me. Those wall calendars I told you about? They are my lifesaver these days. I had to implement a color code—one color per family member—to keep everything straight. Things are looking a little . . . dense.   #overcommitted

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Beyond shuttling kids to their various activities and shoving food in their mouths when we get a spare minute, I am not keeping up on anything very well. But we had a rare opportunity to finally work on some outdoor projects and we had to jump on it. 

As farmers we have usually have plenty of time for indoor projects when the weather turns sour. It is the outdoor projects that are hard to accomplish. When the weather is good, farm work always takes priority. Late last fall, we excavated our yard down to dirt and had great intentions of making serious progress...

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...only to stall out when it started to snow in early October. What a blessing this warm October has been! We finally wrapped up the most important farm work and started back in on this project. First we added in a layer of sand and gravel and leveled it to the grade we needed for proper drainage.

Next, we had to build forms for all of the concrete. This wasn't exactly a simple job due to the, uh, complexity of my design. Sorry, Tom. (If you would like a reminder of what our plan was, you can refer back to this post about the overall design, and this post about the hard-scaping.) Basically, it wasn't just one large concrete pad. It was a grid of smaller pads with space in between for gravel. This required quite a bit more time and materials for forms.

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They then cut and installed wire mesh. This was the morning of our pour. You can see the back of the cement truck backed up and ready to go.

This part of the process moved very quickly as concrete was dumped into each of our forms. The concrete was roughly raked into place and then leveled off until the right amount was left in each form. 

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We moved from one side of the house directly to the other side to fill the rest of the forms. Then the truck left to get another load and we set to work smoothing and finishing. 

This is when we realized we probably took on too much at one time. It was a warm, breezy day and the concrete was drying up on us too fast. It was all we could do to smooth and edge each of the pads. (And this is when they certainly questioned the wisdom of having so many individual pads, rather than one large pad with just 4 sides.

In the end we persevered and with a lot of elbow-grease managed to get what we had poured mostly smooth.

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Good enough had to be good enough, because the concrete truck was back with another load. The driver was awesome enough to help finish the previous pads before we tackled the next piece, a pad in front of a new shop door we installed last year. We had started pouring around 11:00 and worked without stopping for lunch. It look well past dinner time to finish this one, and believe me when I say we were P-O-O-P-E-D.

Now, I need to stop here and set something straight. Because I am behind the camera and not shown actually working in any of these photos, you would naturally assume that my job was strictly direction, documentation and cheerleading. (And well, usually you would be right. My job is mostly taking care of kids and filling bellies.) But on this day, let me reassure you that I worked right along side the guys all day long. (I know you were worried- ha). 

As first-time concrete layers (except my dad who is jack-of-all-trades), it was a stressful and backbreaking day. It was good for me to have concrete under my nails and ground into my knees, along with very sore muscles to show for the day because Tom said that way I would know how hard it was and couldn't complain if it wasn't perfect. 

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And he is right. I am extremely happy with the (albeit imperfect) outcome. It was a hard but rewarding day. And I am so thankful to my husband, brother, and dad for their patience and hard work, and to my mom for watching kids and cooking us a yummy dinner that night.

After the forms were removed, my brother and I worked together to lay sand and pavers in a few strategic places.

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Tom worked behind us to fill in the gaps with gravel.

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The open gravel areas will contain plants eventually. This isn't much for an after photo since it isn't really "done". It probably looks a little sterile at this point, but I know once we add plants next spring, patio furniture, a deck, and eventually a pergola, it will all look a-maz-ing.  

The guys had to break to haul peas to market this week, but deck-building is next up on the agenda, as long as we have decent weather to work in. Our current deck is partly dismantled (and our patio door secured so nobody can take a dive).  We are also going to be building a small deck and stairs at my brother's house first. Plenty to do. Wish us luck (and some nice weather!)

lake time

As farmers sometimes we feel like we get the short end of the stick when it comes to summer recreation. The guys work long days 6 days a week through the summer while it feels like everyone else spends every weekend in the mountains. 

No pity parties though. Life is good. We managed to get our trailer out one time this year (another post). My dad got his boat out on the water exactly twice, both quick afternoon visits. One visit was on Labor Day. We met up at Holter Lake and rode up through the Gates of the Mountains. The drive up was gorgeous. Our state is amazing.

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We spotted some mountain sheep right by the road. I actually had my big camera and telephoto with me for once.

Aren't you feeling sorry for us? Here's more.

Abby didn't care that the weather was a touch cool. She rode the tube for a long ways and smiled from ear to ear the entire time.

More wildlife sightings:

Earlier this summer Abby was invited to spend a few days with her friend at their cabin on Holter. We went up to bring her home and spent one fun night at the cabin ourselves. The lake was so peaceful in the morning.

While we were enjoying the quiet morning before most of the house woke up, Eva looked out the window and spotted this doe. It spotted her back and walked right up to the window.

Deer usually aren't this bold! It was a cool moment.

Aw, it's so good to look back at our summer photos and count our blessings. We hope you have many blessings to count also!

Wall unit update

I've acquired a pretty long list of furniture for this house from Craig's List. It would be hard to pick a favorite (well, maybe my orange chairs) but the wall unit on the back wall of our living room has to be near the top of the list.

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A few interesting things have happened since my original post about this piece, so I thought I would post an update.

I had tagged my post with the manufacturer's name (Kopenhavn), and as a result attracted some attention from other's searching the internet for these wall units, most of them looking for additional parts or sections for their own wall units. 

One reader contacted me looking for extra sky hooks, the metal hooks that attach the units to the wood brackets that are mounted to the wall. I didn't have extras (she was able to have new ones made at machine shop), but during our correspondence she offered to send me scans of an original brochure for the units she had in her possession. Here are a few of the pages:

It's fun to see the configurations offered. And those prices!

Then, more recently, I received this comment on my original post:

Sarah 4 months ago 
Hi,
The designer of your Kopenhavn wall unit and the miniature furniture maker are indeed one and the same person. Noral Olson is my grandfather. :)

And she responded this to our comments in return:

Sarah 3 months ago 
Hi Joellyn and Debra,
Thanks so much for your comments. It does make me proud that he has designed something that will be used and loved well beyond his lifetime. I can't believe that it's only recently that I have come to know and appreciate his talent (he had already retired from the furniture design business before I was born). You should also check out some of his miniature pieces - they are true works of art, featured in collections around the world - not your everyday "dollhouse" furniture :)
I will pass on your kind words. I know he will especially enjoy your story Debra and be so happy to know that what he helped create was used and enjoyed as I'm sure he meant for it to be.
--Sarah

So even though I already loved this piece, I must say it is even more rewarding to know it has a real and tangible history. 

 

Managing a calendar

Hey, Moms. Let's have a discussion about calendar management. Because I haven't quite conquered this struggle. Twice recently I have forgotten one of my kid's commitments because I either didn't look at a calendar in time or didn't write it down properly, and I always feel terrible when I let them down.

For a while I decided digital was the only way to go. Our calendars are shared across all of our devices, and we have our phones (and therefore or calendars) with us at all times. We can even set up reminders. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong. I'm not sure why, but I was always missing dates. 

When we lived in Utah we had a system of white board calendars on the wall. Tom recently begged me to put them back up. So, behold: the calendar wall.

These are just 3 inexpensive white board calendars that we rotate out as each month passes. (The basket below contains library books and markers for the boards). Having 3 months to record dates on and having them all visible at once works great for us. (When a month passes I just clean off the oldest month and move the other two up on the wall.) They aren't the prettiest—but they are on an out-of-the-way spot in the hallway to our garage that we pass on our way out the door every day. 

The best thing about this system is that our kids are more aware of the schedule. They don't let us forgot things. This week Abby started middle school volleyball with daily practice and a busy schedule of games. Next week the girls start school, and Sarah will start soccer. The week after that Eva starts preschool. Our calendar is starting to look really dense

The problem with this system is that it doesn't come with me. So I find myself wondering if I should keep up a digital calendar also. Or snap a photo of my wall calendars every time I update them. I know I have some well-organized friends out there. What do YOU do about this problem?