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?

Trip to Apostle Islands and FUE

This is bound to be a lengthy post, so feel free to just scan through the photos for a glimpse of a cool part of America you've probably never seen—or even considered as a destination! 

As I mentioned in a post last week, our family recently traveled to Bayfield, Wisconsin to attend a training event sponsored by Farmer's Union Enterprises (FUE).

FUE is a division of Farmer's Union that includes five states: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. What started as a collaboration to start a business to benefit the local farmers eventually grew into several businesses, all in the agricultural industry. You can read more about the businesses they own here. They are also behind a restaurant in the Washington, D.C. area that serves farm-to-table food directly from farms in our 5-state area. How cool is that?

As for how we got involved, this is an excerpt from North Dakota's website about the program.

Farmers Union Enterprises has a program for couples in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and Minnesota in which each state selects one "Couple of the Year." The participating couple receives hands-on training on issues important to National Farmers Union such as advocacy leadership, becoming good communicators, NFU involvement and how to coordinate a meeting.

Tom and I weren't members of Farmers Union and weren't very familiar with their policies. However, we had fortune of meeting the previous year's couple at a Couple's Ag Conference we attended last year. We somehow made enough of an impression on them that they recommended us for this program as the 2014-2015 couple from Montana. What an amazing opportunity—so we jumped on it. 

Our first event took us to Wisconsin, which crosses a new state off my list. We were invited to bring our families for this event, and we gathered with both the outgoing and incoming couples from each state. We had a day of training (overlooking the beautiful Lake Superior) and then were able to meet and visit with the presidents of Farmer's Union in each state. 

These are the couples we will be meeting with throughout 2014-2015. They represent a variety of ages and types of farming practices, and we will really enjoy getting to know each of them better!

These are the couples we will be meeting with throughout 2014-2015. They represent a variety of ages and types of farming practices, and we will really enjoy getting to know each of them better!

In this photo we are joined by the outgoing couples, including the awesome couple from Montana (front left) to whom we owe our thanks for recommending us! 

In this photo we are joined by the outgoing couples, including the awesome couple from Montana (front left) to whom we owe our thanks for recommending us! 

Future events will take us to our Montana State Farmer's Union convention in October, the National Convention in Witchita, KS next March, and another family gathering with the new incoming couples in the Black Hills next summer. And the cherry on top—next year we will fly to D.C. and meet with the Committee leaders who influence our farm legislation. We are beyond excited for this educational opportunity.

But back to our trip.

We flew into Minneapolis, rented a car, and drove the 4-1/2 hours north to Bayfield. Bayfield lies right shores of Lake Superior. Our first glimpse of this massive lake was cresting over the hill into Duluth. 

Duluth is an interesting place—full of ships, barges, bridges, and docking yards. It lies on the western-most point of all the Great Lakes, so of course it is a huge thoroughfare for goods moving back and forth to the East coast. 

Duluth is an interesting place—full of ships, barges, bridges, and docking yards. It lies on the western-most point of all the Great Lakes, so of course it is a huge thoroughfare for goods moving back and forth to the East coast. 

We stayed in the charming Bayfield Inn right on the waterfront, and immediately stretched our legs wandering along the shore and taking photos.

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We thought this bench was pretty funny because it makes it look like Abby weighs a ton. Ha ha. 

We thought this bench was pretty funny because it makes it look like Abby weighs a ton. Ha ha. 

And here is Eva with her classic camera pose.

And here is Eva with her classic camera pose.

The gardens around Bayfield were amazing. It's obvious they take pride in their little community.

The gardens around Bayfield were amazing. It's obvious they take pride in their little community.

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We let Eva pick a few flowers. :)

We let Eva pick a few flowers. :)

The girls made a few new friends amongst the other farm families. The Wisconsin Farmer's Union camp counselors provided activities for the kids while the adults were in training, and they had a great time.

The girls made a few new friends amongst the other farm families. The Wisconsin Farmer's Union camp counselors provided activities for the kids while the adults were in training, and they had a great time.

A look back towards the town. There are a lot of beautiful old houses from the days when the fishing industry flourished. Now it is mostly tourism keeping the town afloat.

A look back towards the town. There are a lot of beautiful old houses from the days when the fishing industry flourished. Now it is mostly tourism keeping the town afloat.

The vastness of Lake Superior is amazing. It is the largest of the great lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area). If you dumped all the water of the other 4 great lakes into an empty Lake Superior, you still wouldn't fill it up. A big highlight of our trip was taking a 3-hour boat tour around the Apostle Islands, a chain of sandstone island formations that, with the exception of one populated island, are now all part of a National Park reserve.

The vastness of Lake Superior is amazing. It is the largest of the great lakes and the largest freshwater lake in the world (by surface area). If you dumped all the water of the other 4 great lakes into an empty Lake Superior, you still wouldn't fill it up. A big highlight of our trip was taking a 3-hour boat tour around the Apostle Islands, a chain of sandstone island formations that, with the exception of one populated island, are now all part of a National Park reserve.

Over time the water has weathered deep caves into the sandstone. Apparently you can reach these caves over ice in the winter time and the ice formations within them are amazing. We heard quite a few interesting stories about traveling over ice roads from our boat captain, a native of the area.

Over time the water has weathered deep caves into the sandstone. Apparently you can reach these caves over ice in the winter time and the ice formations within them are amazing. We heard quite a few interesting stories about traveling over ice roads from our boat captain, a native of the area.

There are several lighthouses on the islands. Even though the islands are unpopulated and the lighthouse technology is no longer necessary, they are still trying to maintain them as part of history. This lighthouse was under construction. 

There are several lighthouses on the islands. Even though the islands are unpopulated and the lighthouse technology is no longer necessary, they are still trying to maintain them as part of history. This lighthouse was under construction. 

Some of the caves are large enough to take a small boat into, but we were warned that one must keep an eye out for large ships passing by because the resulting waves could cause some pretty bad bumps to the head if you were caught in a cave.

Some of the caves are large enough to take a small boat into, but we were warned that one must keep an eye out for large ships passing by because the resulting waves could cause some pretty bad bumps to the head if you were caught in a cave.

Eva soaking in our friend's backyard pool, and sporting her signature camera pose again. 

Eva soaking in our friend's backyard pool, and sporting her signature camera pose again. 

We drove through some beautiful Wisconsin farm land on our way back to Minneapolis. I didn't get many photos of our time there, but we had an awesome night with some old friends and enjoyed their new pool. The next morning we met up with more friends and had a quick trip to the Mall of America before we had to head to the airport. 

Harvest was just getting rolling before we left, so we couldn't tarry. We definitely hit the ground running when we landed at home!

harvest photos

After yesterday's "Deep Thoughts" post, I thought I'd leave you with a few lighthearted photos today.

The crew. We snapped this photo with a self-timer, camera propped up on the back of the pickup truck.

The crew. We snapped this photo with a self-timer, camera propped up on the back of the pickup truck.

Now this is a REAL tailgate party.

Now this is a REAL tailgate party.

The new combine is equipped with auto-steer, so you can push a button and it will steer a straight line down the field. Here the swaths in the middle were left at just the right width for the other combine to pick up.

The new combine is equipped with auto-steer, so you can push a button and it will steer a straight line down the field. Here the swaths in the middle were left at just the right width for the other combine to pick up.

Aren't we cool.

Aren't we cool.

Combine fist bump.

Combine fist bump.


Blog updates

Montana Prairie Tales has a new look and few new structural improvements! Please have a look around and let me know if anything is broken or not working for you. I have updated the About Me page and Blogroll. Other additions include a little Instagram teaser on the sidebar, threaded commenting, a "like" button on each post, and a Pinterest button rollover on each photo. I have eliminated the Feng Shui Friday section, but you can still access those posts through the Feng Shui Friday category link in the sidebar at right.  Also gone—His Tales. It was pretty clear Tom wasn't going to be able to keep up his end of the bargain with regular posts. Don't worry, he is still invited to post here when he has the urge and we will still try to update the site with farm-related information. It will just be under the main Blog heading.

I think that covers it. I will be back very soon with a meatier post. Thanks for following!

Happy Birthday, Eva!

Here is a bit of colorful cheer to brighten the front page of my neglected blog...

Can you believe our princess is four?

I can hardly believe it myself, especially since this also marks the 4-year anniversary of our big move to Montana.

 

Four big happy years that we never would have imagined in a million years, but would never give back.


Eva just finished her first year of preschool, and since then has asked every day without fail, "Mom, do I have school today?" She should be good and ready to back in September. 

Here are a few thousand more photos I snapped of her the other day. Sorry, I couldn't narrow them down any further. Mamma's prerogative.

 

Front yard landscaping—the plantings

To refer back to the plan/layout and before photos, click here.

I am no gardener, and I've learned what I do know by trial and error. I do know this much about what I want: it must be low maintenance and survive on infrequent watering. I like native plants and like a variety of colors and textures in the foliage. I seem to like purple flowers, especially alliums. And judging by the collage below, I like both random naturalized planting and structured rows. I'm not sure how I will combine that all into a cohesive look, but I'm going to try. 

Sources, clockwise from top left: 1. Europa Concorci  2. Houzz  3. Houzz  4. Feldman Architecture via Desire to Inspire  5. unknown (This along the shop maybe?)  6. Houzz   7. Houzz (I'll take the pool!)

I have had good luck so far with a few things—grasses, Russian sage, purple salvia, some seedums (although the bunnies like them), and thyme. I plan to transplant some native yucca that grow along the river beds locally. Any other suggestions?

 

Now let's talk about my terraced concrete planting beds and rock garden for a minute. Last summer they were growing in nicely:

But they aren't feeling cohesive enough for me. I think I need to take a lot of it out and start over. I might end up with fewer flowers in the terraced beds and opt for a cleaner look with lots of the same types of plants, like this:


Sources, clockwise from top left: 1. Houzz  2. Houzz  3. Jeffrey Gordon Smith via Desire to Inspire  4. Houzz

That wraps it up for my landscaping plan posts. Now all we have left is to work work work. I will try to keep you updated on our progress! Be patient with us, though. Outdoor projects are hard to accomplish because farm work comes first!

 

Front yard landscaping—the fence and pergola

Hi! I hope you aren't bored with landscaping posts yet, because I'm back this week to share a little more of my yard inspiration. Today it is all about the fence and pergola.

To refer back to the plan/layout and before photos, click here.

I have no trouble imagining a new beautiful fence in our yard. Building it will be the hard part. Fortunately it isn't a huge area. I'd love to have a fancy gate like some of those shown here, but as long as it is easy to operate, I'll take it. I do know that I want horizontal fence slats. Easier to climb, yes, but it will be nice and tall so at least our dogs won't be able to climb it. (I hope.)

Sources: Clockwise from upper left: 1. DWR via Gardenista  2. Houzz  3. Houzz  4. Houzz  5. Houzz  6. Life of an Architect

Beautiful, right? Can you see it in our little courtyard between our house and shop? Instead of this?

Anything would be a drastic improvement.

The other thing I hope to add is not completely necessary for function but absolutely necessary for aesthetics—the pergola. Don't you agree? This isn't just your average pergola, either. It must have a mix of wood and metal and be lovely and modern. Here ya go:

Sources, clockwise from top: 1. Houzz  2. Houzz  3. Houzz

Drool. Now if we can just execute...  Anyone in need of a summer job? :)

Front yard landscaping—the hard-scaping

To refer back to the plan/layout and before photos, click here.

The major drive behind redoing these our two small front yards is to reduce lawn area and watering. These spaces will be much more usable to us as outdoor rooms for lounging and dining. (Don't worry, we have plenty of lawn for the kids elsewhere.) Now if we could just do something about the mosquitoes...

I really like a permeable hard scape for function, but mostly for form. I think this looks great with our midcentury modern style. It allows you to break up a mass of concrete area with texture and plantings, not to mention allowing for proper drainage. 

Here is my patio inspiration:

Clockwise from left: 1. unknown  2. Houzz; I want my pavers to be a bit larger than shown here. 3. Houzz; This is one of my favorites to illustrate the patio edged by plantings. 4. Houzz; This is probably way more beautiful and elaborate than I will be able to achieve, but I love this. I like how they have mixed rock and mulch areas. 5. Houzz  6. Houzz  7. Houzz; This is the best example I have of what I want the concrete to look like in the courtyard area, leading back to the fence. My plants won't be this lush or my fence this fancy, I'm sure.  

I'm anxious to get to this part of the project because our dirt yard is soon going to = a weed yard!

Front yard landscaping—the deck

To refer back to the plan/layout and before photos, click here.

Improving the deck is a pretty major element in improving our curb appeal, not to mention our safety. Our current deck has given many a sliver, and the railing consists of weather-warped and wobbly 2 x 4s that would do nothing to contain a child. We added some hog wire for safety, but it isn't pretty. 

From the beginning I have envisioned a cable railing. Preserving the view is paramount so I don't want anything with heavy stiles. Here is my inspiration:

Sources: Clockwise from top left: 1. Houzz; obviously we would need more cable than this for safety, but the idea is that you can see through it! 2. Houzz  3. eBay  4. n fiore on flikr  5. Czuba Steel Works  6. Houzz

My preference is to have metal posts, but I don't mind a little wood either. Our basement railing turned out great, but I think my dad hopes to DIY this one to save some money. We are probably going to use composite material for the decking, but I'm open to using redwood. What are your thoughts?

 

Front yard landscaping—the plan

Here comes the fun part. 

Bear in mind, I am not a landscape designer. I drew these plans in Illustrator so they are pretty basic. I'll explain.

The first drawing is for the patio part of the yard (to give you a visual):

1. First, we need to add footings for the deck and pergola, then prep the space for pavers. I'd like to do a mix of poured concrete squares (about 5'x5') and smaller concrete pavers with gravel in between. Surrounding this will be planting area. (I'll share inspiration photos later).

2. The deck would keep the same footprint, but it will extend a little further to go underneath the new patio door. Instead of the stairs coming off the end as it did before, they will go straight out onto the patio. On the south of side of the house we will use the existing deck frame, but the entire deck will be resurfaced. My dad wants to use composite decking. I wouldn't be opposed to using redwood, though I know it would be more maintenance. The whole deck will then get a new railing, which it desperately needs anyway!

3. I definitely want a pergola over the top to define the space. We might not get to this right away, but I know it will look sooo amazing. We will need to add the footings for it now.  

4. The concrete terrace beds will stay, but I would like to replant some of them. More on this later.

 

Next is the courtyard area:

1. There is an existing concrete pad next to the garage on the left side that may or may not stay. (It is a handy place to store bikes and things, but it might sort of interfere with the design??) And as I mentioned in the previous post, the fireplace may or may not stay. I then want to do more concrete pads that meander back to the gate. They will also have gravel in between. They would be wide enough to set up a few chairs and use this as patio space also.

2. A new better-looking fence, of course! Our backyard is fenced (mostly chainlink, but still really nice to have for our pets) so we definitely need a gate here. The fence also masks the propane tanks that sit behind it, so I'd like to keep it at least 6' tall.

3. As of now we are planning to leave the big evergreen tree. I'd like to add another smaller (pretty) flowering fruit tree, but we would put it out away from the shop wall and power line. The rest would be small low-water-use plantings and gravel/mulch beds.

Front yard landscaping—what we're starting with

Spring seeding season has begun around here, so it will be a few weeks before we have any time to work on outdoor house projects. Until then, I am trying to get myself excited and motivated for the work involved. I thought I would share my plans with you, and since I have a lot to share, I'm going to spread it out over a series of posts. I welcome your suggestions and feedback!

If you need a refresher on what we are working with, here are some posts about yard projects we've done to date:

Our farm house—on the outside (August 2010);  Yard progress (June 2011);  Paint your front door (October 2011);  Don't try this at home (putting in our rock staircase, October 2011);  Landscaping project update (lower yard finished, November 2011)

Here's what we started with:

So far, we have replaced the front door, roof and gutters. I also painted the exterior sconces. This past fall we were able to keep one of our harvest hired hands (Jake) on for a little longer and he and I worked together to paint almost all of the trim on the house. (What a job!) 

Jake also used a grinder to get all the ugly chipped blue paint off of the concrete steps. So here is my first question for you. Should I leave the front steps as-is (nice and simple) or dress them up by staining and sealing them? What would look more modern?  I definitely have some other work to do to dress things up: a new doormat, new planters, and possibly a bench. Now it more closely resembles the original colors.

The areas we plan to tackle now are the two small front/side yards. We have the yard to the left of the front door (I'll call this the patio) and the yard between the house and shop (I'll call this the courtyard). Previously they were both planted into grass, but because we often have water shortages, they haven't been watered consistently and they had turned into weed/dirt patches. It was a hassle to mow them. 

This is the patio side before:

(From the opposite angle) This is the patio side today:

We plan to leave the existing concrete border/planters, even though they are a bit rough in places. Last fall we removed this side of the deck (the entire deck needs to re-decked, and it desperately needs a new railing.) This side will be rebuilt altogether because we intend to put a patio door in place of the window (that is why that window trim is still blue). The deck will wrap around and extend all the way under the door.

We also excavated all the grass/dirt out. Tom installed PVC drainage pipes to extend the gutter drainage. Next steps will be to build this back up with a gravel base and install hard-scaping (more on that later).

 

Now for the courtyard side: 

This isn't the best photo to show this, but most of the plants here were grossly overgrown. There was a tree that was cut back (again and again) to avoid growing into the power line, a couple of dead junipers, and somewhere back there a rickety fence and a fireplace. (Yes! An outdoor fireplace!)

Today it looks like this:

We excavated this out very odd-shaped yard to prep for hard-scaping also. We removed all of the overgrown bushes and trees. (The evergreen is probably too close to the house and maybe should have been taken out also, but for now we just limbed up the bottom. Now you can see the (partially dismantled) fence and that fireplace!

The fireplace was built by my uncle years ago, but we don't use it for a couple of reasons. The firebox is set too far forward so the smoke doesn't ventilate out the chimney as intended. Instead it just comes out the front into your face. Secondly, it sits pretty close to the house, and obviously that tree is in the way. 

So, here is my second question. Should we keep the fireplace? If we want to actually use it as a fireplace it will probably need to be moved and modified. We might be able to add some sort of hood extension that would help it ventilate properly. We could move it to the other side closer to the shop, but our propane tanks sit behind that fence. Or, we could leave it where it is and plant flowers in it. I do like it, but maybe it doesn't fit with my modern vision? 

Coming up—I'll show you what that vision is.

a few new things

Happy Monday, my friends. It is a glorious and sunny day outside and I should be out enjoying it for a change. Too much computer work to catch up on today. 

Since I'd rather do anything other than book work I will procrastinate and share a few of my winter acquisitions instead. 

Last fall I shared this photo on Instagram. I had been saving for a while to purchase a rug for our living room, and I had narrowed my options down to this shag carpet (that I would have bound into a 9 x 12 rug). I was deliberating on a color and looking for advice. I was leaning toward one of the medium green/grays shown. You see, I didn't want to make a wrong decision since it would cost me approximately $1200 to have it made. Ouch.

Around this time, Sam's Club was offering some shag rugs in their store. You know, Sam's Club! The store everyone turns to first for their decorating needs, right? Ha. I had seen the rugs there and had dismissed them as an option because the colors werent' quite perfect. They were also 8 x 10, when 9 x 12 seemed more ideal for my space. Nevertheless, the price tag ($250) made me take a second look.

I brought a gray rug home with me, but it was too steel-colored. Too cold for this room. I went back and purchased the light cream rug to try instead. And, well, it stayed! 

I was pretty sure the light color would be a bad decision, but since it is out of the way of main traffic areas, it seems like it is going to be okay (excepting any accidental spills come it's way). For less than a quarter of the cost, I decided it was worth the risk. 

The cozy factor of this rug is the best. And it does a great job of anchoring the space and absorbing sound.

The 8 x 10 size seems to work okay. I just put the front legs of all my furniture over the rug. I also kept my cowhide rug in the room and layered it underneath.

I thought I would point out that I just love the function of the u-shape furniture layout in this room. The room is fairly large, but instead of hugging the walls the furniture floats in the middle, focused around the central ottoman. At New Year's time we had company over and all gathered around the ottoman to play games. There is plenty of seating, but a few sat on the cushy new rug as well.

Some of my furniture in this room is getting a little tired. The couch style is dated and no longer my taste, and the finish on the leather is peeling (odd!). The ottoman is showing a lot of wear too. At some point I would love to update... but I am going to be patient and look for the right things. (I couldn't commit and ended up missing out on this Craig's list sectional. I did get bids to reupholster and they were $1600–$2200, not including the cost of about 25 yards of fabric.) At least for now I am happy with how this room has evolved, and especially with how it functions.

Back in the hallway I added another new element—these stainless picture rails from Crate and Barrel

I had a bunch of gallery frames from our house in Utah to display. It was fun to get them out again, but since we moved right before Eva was born, I definitely need to update them all to include her!

The hallway where they are displayed leads to two of the girls' rooms and bathroom. This is a good shot to show you what the doors look like in my house. They are inexpensive hollow core doors that I really want to replace. I keep debating whether or not to paint them and update the hardware—or if it is really worth the work. Maybe we will get around to replacing them first! (The cool light fixture was $6 from the Habitat for Humanity Restore).

And back to the topic of rugs, I encountered this awesome Nate Berkus rug on clearance at Target recently. (Sorry, it's no longer available!) I wanted it to work in my bathroom, but it was the wrong shape. I then tried it in the kitchen—and while it looked awesome, I knew I wouldn't be able to tolerate it. It didn't stay put well enough (even with a rug pad) and this area sees WAY too much traffic and food. It had to go back to the store, but not before I shot a photo of just how perfect it looked.

So there you have it; a few of the smaller tweaks we made to our house this winter. Now with the nicer weather my thoughts are turning to outdoor projects. My next post(s) will tell you all about it!

Utah getaway

Tom and I had really been wanting to get away before the spring farm work kicked into high gear, so we finally decided to combine a little fun with a business trip and drive to Utah for a few days. We left the kids with my Mom and Dad.

Driving without kids for a change is liberating! We stopped along the freeway at the Calf-A for some yummy lunch. It's a cute little spot in an old school house. Once we got there we stayed a couple of nights downtown and enjoyed the views. 

 

The morning after we arrived we were pulling our car out of Marriott parking and the attendant suggested we might want to get a car wash. Ha. Yes, well, we had gotten a car wash only a week before but the next day it had snowed and rained. So, we took his advice and found the closest car wash which was one where you leave your car to be washed and go inside to pay.

When I got to the cashier she said "Was that your SUV that just pulled in?" 

"Well, yes".

"What HAPPENED?"

Uh, normal life on gravel roads in the middle of Montana, I guess! Made me laugh. Welcome to the city.

 

Tom had lunch with his old coworkers, and I had lunch with some favorite besties:

Of course we made a point to visit some of our favorite restaurants: Red Iguana, Pawit's Royale Thai, Cheesecake Factory, Zupas, and Rumbi. We each gained at least 5 pounds on this trip, I'm sure.

Like I said, this was part business trip, and we did a LOT of shopping. This isn't the first time we've filled up a car with (mostly) Ikea merch, but this time it was mostly for clients. At this point we were wondering if we would have room for our suitcases!

We stayed two more nights in our old 'hood at our old neighbor's house. (No photos- ack!) We had a game night with them, just like old times. On the way out we did a little "drive-by-shooting" of our old house.

When we got back home my neighbor texted to say that their was a new for-sale sign in front of our old house and were we sure we wouldn't just want to move back? :) 

I did manage to buy a couple of things for myself, of course. We had a chance to visit the infamous HomeGoods store, which came to Utah about the time we moved. I wouldn't mind having one of these near home to frequent. Anyway, this cushy flokati rug was just too good to pass up. 

 

We could have used a few more days, but we were glad for the days we had. The weather was balmy and warm, and we returned home to Arctic cold. Brrr. 

Eva's room

Thank you ever so much for your nice comments about our bath renovation last week! Just for that, I have another before and after post for you!

We completed this project in just over a week. We didn't do any major design back flips or murals in this room though. Like I said before, our goals became a little more practical, and a clean canvas is a great place to start. 

We already had everything just as it is—we just scraped and textured the ceiling, patched and repainted the walls, put in new flooring, and replaced all the trimwork—then moved it all back in. Oh- we did add a new light fixture and rug. 

My before photo was taken back when this room functioned more as a nursery and Eva was still in a crib, but you can see that everything was VERY blue. The carpet was original, and we were pretty anxious to get it out of her room because Eva was suffering from what we thought might be dust allergies.

Here is an even earlier before photo—back before we moved into the house. Pink and blue!

The built-ins used to have doors in the lower portion, but they were difficult to slide open. We removed them to make the shelves more functional for toy storage.

 

And after—whew! Relief from all that blue. And this is a north facing room!

The room still needs window treatments. I have white linen and all the supplies to sew roman shades.

Her bed is a Craig's list find from quite awhile back, though I never blogged about it. I was saving it for this post! I love LOVE both girls' antique beds!

The shelves took for-ever to paint. I lost track of how many coats it took to cover the blue with white. 

But they sure are great for storage!

The mirror was a prop I purchased for a photo I styled at my former job. I always loved it so I was able to buy it back from the photo department a couple of years after I left!

Simple, clean, and fit for a princess. One more room completed!

SOURCES:

  • flooring: Ikea Tundra in white
  • bed: vintage
  • quilt: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • bench: Land of Nod, no longer available
  • mirror: vintage
  • school chairs: vintage
  • Chandelier: Ikea Kristaller
  • Rug: Home Decorators Collection, Cozy Shag Rug in Hot Pink
  • Closet curtain: custum sewed by moi
  • Mirror in shelves: Ikea
  • Artwork: Etsy, prints from Tiny Fawn
  • suitcases: vintage
  • Paint colors: Walls–Benjamin Moore Silver Sage, Trim—Behr Powdered Snow

 

 

Buy this

If mid century is your thing and you live in the Great Falls area, here is a beauty listed today.

While it lasts: http://greatfalls.craigslist.org/fuo/4375330393.html

Bathroom reveal

I had grandiose plans for this bathroom at one point, including adding a walk-in shower and a clawfoot tub. I even purchased an old tub to refurbish. But 4 years into our renovations we are feeling a bit burnt out—or more practical. Either way, I decided to edit my plans to just a tub/shower combo and keeping everything in the same locations. I was going for FINISHED. We had a list of other projects to tackle once this was complete, so FINISHED seemed like a worthy goal.

(For previous posts about this project and to see my inspiration pics, go here, here, and here.)

I will list the sources at the bottom of this post.

I searched high and low but could not find a vanity that lived up to my inspiration and expectations. It took a bit of arm twisting, but I was able to talk my Dad into building it. (I found a builder on Etsy as a backup option, but doing it ourselves definitely saved us money). I chose this insanely gorgeous walnut for the project, and we went for a mid century design that resembled a piece of freestanding furniture. (I would have loved to use an actual vintage dresser, but it would have been a challenge to find a piece that met our size specifications. My search over the past 2 years yielded no options.) I gave my dad a rough design, and he helped me refine it. My dad did all the construction and I did the staining and finishing. It turned out just like I'd hoped!

We built the mirror to match, and saved even more money. 

The light over the vanity was one I had seen ages ago and loved. They were sold out online, but I ended up calling multiple stores and tracked down one of the last ones in stock. When it arrived I was surpised by how big it was... but the store had done me a special favor tracking it down and it didn't seem like a good idea to send it back! The inside is gold, so I carried those gold/brass touches throughout.

We kept the existing ceiling fixtures, although we shifted one so they would be lined up. The spacing was odd before. I adore these lights, and love that we were able to keep something from the old bathroom.

We had several boxes of tile left over from our kitchen/dining/entry/laundry spaces. We calculated it to be exactly what we needed for the bathroom, so we ordered one extra box to be on the safe side. In the end we had one box left over. Go figure. :)

Here are the juicy side-by-side before and afters:

The observant will notice a few structural differences: We removed the soffits above the tub and sink. We expanded the width of the wall between to accommodate the niches in the shower wall. The wall heat register is gone, replaced by a floor vent (we put in forced air heat throughout the house). 

Not exactly the same view here—sorry. The new shower is very light and bright. We chose simple 6x8 white tiles from Home Depot. Cheap and classic. We chose to stack them rather than stagger them subway style for a more contemporary look. 

Sorry- this view is shot at a different angle also, but I wanted to show you how we replaced the doors on the built-in shelves. Dad built these out of the walnut as well.

 

This before photo of the vanity is after we affectionately bid adieu to the red shag carpet and installed a cheap piece of sheet vinyl to tide us by.  And you may wonder—what could possibly be wrong with this delicious brown 70s tile and brown shampoo sink? If you are crying a tear over their demise, let me assure you they were past their prime. The tile was staring to fall off the front of the vanity, the sink and shower faucets leaked (horribly). Okay, we could have kept the shampoo sink, but I think it was time for a new look.

These shower niches were my brain child. I wanted something to look at other than a blank shower wall since you see this spot first when you walk in the room. Also, I like to keep things off the tub ledge. I think it was worth it, even though it added some challenge to the tile-laying process.

I had a small obsession with finding pretty shampoo/conditioner, but I couldn't seem to find any that fit the design scheme like I wanted. I was able to purchase the empty amber plastic bottles from Specialty bottles, and then I searched for some white vinyl lettering to label them with. I had trouble find the perfect letters, so when I saw these gold letters I thought- perfect! More gold! Tom thinks they look mail boxes now. Whatever. 


I had a couple of unused white frames on hand, so I scoured Etsy for some art to put in them. I ended up falling for these little watercolor dresses from Mary Catherine Starr, who did a "dress-a-day for 100 days" project. These are two of her originals. I thought it would bring a bit of femininity to the space since it is used primarily by our girls. 


We actually ended up replacing the toilet also. The old one was still pretty new—an expensive wall mount toilet with a power flush feature that scared the kids. I think it scared a few grown-ups too with it's sonic flush. Luckily we were able to access the plumbing through a closet in the basement and move the sewer pipe in order to put in a standard toilet. 


The faucets are fun and modern, but I'm finding the chrome shows. every. spot. The countertop is cut from a Quartz remnant I found in a local stone yard.

Finally, I added one last piece of art. I found this perfect frame on clearance at Target, so I just added a gold mat I found in my stash and a sweet photo of Sarah shot by talented Darla of rozephotography.com.

 

SOURCES:

 

 

 

 

I would buy this

Hello blog readers! That is, if there are any of you left. I am hoping so because I am planning a bit of a blog blitz to catch up. As I write this, I am downloading "after" photos from my camera of our bathroom renovation to share with you. Soon! 

Until then, I felt compelled to share a few Craig's list treasures with you—since I can't justify buying them myself. Even in our small little town of Great Falls we have a few things great things pop up. And far less purchasing competition. If you don't live around here, well, maybe you'll be inspired to find a few treasures of your own somewhere else.

 

First up, this vintage green sofa.

 

I like the low arms and tufted cushions. It's difficult to tell, but if it has a skirt, I would remove it to reveal more of the legs. Not bad for $75, if the upholstery is in decent condition.

Green Vintage sofa, $75. Here, while it lasts.

 

Next up, I am completely tempted by this sectional:

Yes, obviously it would have to be reupholstered in some crazy amazing fabric. The ad says you could get it done for $30 yard plus fabric, but I'm not sure about that. I was recently quoted more than double that for a chair I looked into having done. Should I be shopping around? What do you pay in your area? There would be a ton of yardage here and it would cost a fortune even at $30, but not nearly what it would cost to buy a piece this size new. 

I think this scale of this could be amazing in my living room, but I'm not 100% sure the look is right. It might be a little too much retro with my orange chairs, even in a different fabric. What do you think? I am ALL for retro pieces, but I do think they look best mixed with a little modern also.

70's sectional, $200.

I have a thing for antique beds (both Eva and Sarah have them), and if I had a boy I would buy one like this and paint it a fun, bright color. 

Vintage steel full-sized bed frame, $120.