Second Tuesday Art Walk #1

Welcome to “Second Tuesday Art Walk,” my new feature that comes out on the second Tuesday of every month.  After all, who can’t use a little beauty on a Tuesday?

And it will always be the second Tuesday because – well, actually I don’t remember the reason now.  But here we are.

In no rational order, we’ll be looking at interior design inspiration, fun little discoveries, and things I’m obsessed with.  You can click through the links to learn more about anything you see here.

So grab a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, and let’s begin.

Gorgeous, Breezy Enclosed Porch

August always has me planning ways to extend summer fun.  That would be a lot easier if I had Ashley’s gorgeous outdoor room.

I especially love those crisp, airy curtains.  Perfect!

Photo courtesy of The Houston House
Charming Repurposed Clothing Projects

Who needs the fabric store if you have old clothes on hand?

SuzerSpace’s sweet DIY purse has me sifting through my husband’s closet to see which shirt he “doesn’t need” anymore.

Photo courtesy of SuzerSpace

Mary over at In The Boondocks also has a talent for repurposing old clothes.  Actually, she’s amazing at repurposing anything.

Here is what she did with an old denim dress and a beach find.

Photo courtesy of In the Boondocks

And I love what she made from an old milk crate and an old blouse.

Beautiful Built-in Sleeping Nook

Sloped ceilings can add so much character to a room.  But they can also be challenging to work with.

Tricia really made the most of her little A-shaped dormer space with this DIY built-in bed.  I love everything about this.  Be sure to check out her before photos!

Photo courtesy of Simplicity in the South

Dream Trailer

Mandi calls her trailer, The Nugget, “the cutest vintage trailer on the internet.”  And I can’t argue with that.

Check out The Nugget’s Reveal and you’ll fall in love too.  The interior photos start about halfway through the post, and there are a lot of charming details to see here.  My favorite little detail is the kitchen faucet.

 

Photo courtesy of VR Vintage Revivals
Trending Color

Looks like brown is making a strong comeback.  In fact, Country Living is saying that brown is the new black.

Shutterfly has come out with their 75 Enchanting Brown Living Room Ideas.  And one of them features my living room!

Image courtesy of Shutterfly

Shutterfly’s post has some great examples of how brown can bring warmth and balance to a room.  And there’s lots of inspiration for integrating brown into existing decor.

Unexpected Discovery

Recently we took a road trip along the beautiful Oregon Coast.

While antiquing in the small towns there, we found these old cobbler shoe forms for children’s shoes – complete with worm holes.  

The smallest one measures only five inches.  Adorable.

Our laundry room remodel is almost compete, and these little guys will be cute in there grouped with the shoe care supplies.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

I’m intrigued by vintage children’s shoe forms now.  The varying sizes make them so fun for decorating.

 

Beauty on Sale

Yes, beauty in the form of luxury furniture and accessories!  One King’s Lane has reached out to let me know about an upcoming promotion:  From August 22nd through August 23rd, 2017, they are offering a 20%  discount on their entire site (although some exclusions apply). Just use the code “OKLSHARE20.” All eligible items in your purchase will be marked down once that code is applied.

Enjoy the Summer!

Now I’m off to take a late-summer blogging break, but let’s meet back here on the second Tuesday in September.  Thanks so much for visiting today, and enjoy your summer!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.


You might also enjoy:

Wondering how you can view my previous posts?  The funnest way is to browse my photo gallery and click on any photo that interests you.

Linking up with:

What’s Hiding Under the Countertop

This post could also be called “How To Not Build Yourself Into a Corner.”  If you’ve been following along with me for a while, you know that my husband Chris and I, along with help from my brother Dan, have been remodeling our laundry room.  (You can find all my previous posts about this remodel at the end of this post.)

The Quartz Countertop

It’s taken us a while to get this far, but we’re close to being finished.   The quartz countertop was installed about a week ago.

Laundry Room appliance wall

I wanted the laundry room to be a mix of old world charm and modern efficiency, and I think the quartz works nicely in that theme.

Laundry Room appliance wall

And it’s practical for a laundry room since it’s said to be very stain-resistant.

Quartz countertop

Installation was not fun for the three men who maneuvered it into the 7′ X 7′ laundry room.

The countertop is 33 inches deep – deeper than a standard 25-inch  kitchen countertop. That extra depth made it hard for these poor guys to set it in place in such a small area.  Arms stretched to the max, all three men yelled and groaned as they carefully raised it!

Hopefully their backs recover.  And the countertop is beautiful.  But there’s a lot going on underneath its simple, clean look.

The Fantasy

Before we started the laundry room remodel, we thought long and hard about the configuration of the sink and appliances: We considered placing the washer and dryer side by side, topping them with a countertop, and placing the sink near the window.  Another practical and space-saving idea was to stack the washer and dryer.

But we tossed practicality aside and opted for the beauty of symmetry:  A sleek kitchen-style configuration with the sink and base cabinet in the middle, an appliance on either side, and a countertop over them running the width of the room.

And they would all live happily ever after.

The Reality

But the devil is in the details.  And in the real world, what goes in eventually must come out.  Appliances break. Pipes leak. Dryer vents need to be reconnected.  So it all needs to be accessible.

And our design called for the appliances to be trapped under a countertop and walled in on either side.

So to keep our little fantasy alive, we needed a plan.

The Plan

It was simple really.  We just had to make sure there was enough space around the appliances to be able to pull them out when (not if) we need to.

So Chris left about an inch of space between the top of the appliances and the frame he attached to the walls for the countertop to sit on.  And when we ordered the sink base, we purposely had it built about an inch taller than the appliances.

Laundry Room remodel

 

Laundry room remodel

Chris left roughly one-inch gaps between the sink base, the appliances, and the walls.  Now the appliances will (hopefully) be easy to remove and reinstall.

Laundry Room appliance wall

The appliances and sink base sit out from the wall several inches to make room for the dryer vent which runs behind them.  It’s nice because it gives us a deeper counter and more counter space.

laundry room remodel

But there is another advantage:  This gap behind the appliances made it possible for Chris to cut a small hatch in the back of the sink base so we can access the plumbing, an electrical outlet, the gas line, and the dryer vent when we need to.

A hatch cover conceals it.

laundry room remodel

Across the Room

The corner cabinet that Dan built us (drawer front coming soon)  also received a quartz countertop.

Laundry room corner cabinet

The countertops were definitely a splurge.  But they were worth it.  The professionals came over and measured, and their measurements were spot on.

I still marvel at the precise spacing between the countertop and the door frame.

And at the little cutout that is perfectly sized for the washer hoses.

Laundry room remodel

Coming Next

At the moment, Chris is installing the gorgeous Delta “Leland” faucet that I received compliments of Delta Faucets Canada.*

Delta Leland sink

I’m looking forward to using the single-handle control and pull-down sprayer on this faucet – and to having a built-in soap dispenser.

Our old utility sink did heavy duty for us.  We were always using it to clean brushes, tools, etc. after one project or another.  It will be so nice to have a utility sink again.

There are lots of little details to work on before this room is finished. But now it’s summer and the sun is shining.  And that last 10 percent of any remodel project is always the hardest.  But we’ll get there.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


* A warm thank you to Delta, a sponsor of Blogpodium 2015 – a Canadian-based lifestyle bloggers’ conference which I attended. Although I was an American blogger at a Canadian conference, I found lots of inspiration and ideas there.  Blogpodium 2017 is coming up in September in Toronto.


My other posts about the laundry room/mudroom remodels:


Wondering how you can view my previous posts?  The funnest way is to browse my photo gallery and click on any photo that interests you.

Linking up with:

Container Design on a Budget

I wasn’t sure why I grabbed my camera as I headed out the door yesterday to visit Mom.  I only knew that there is always something interesting going on in Mom’s garden, and it’s been too long since I took my readers over there.

If you’ve been with me a while, you’ve seen her exterior home makeover, her elevated walkway lights, and the update of her front garden.  And I’ve been promising for some time to share Mom’s gorgeous, quiet backyard sanctuary.  I still intend to make good on that promise.

But in this post, I’m focusing on her ever-beautiful garden containers – and sharing a few of Mom’s container gardening practices.

1.  Accessorize Sparingly

Containers are the jewelry of Mom’s garden.  And since she accessorizes sparingly, they are always well-placed, elegant, and never gaudy.

Hen and chicks in a small statuary urn.

They don’t overwhelm her garden, they enhance it.

2.  Use Commonly Found Container Plants

Her containers are a reminder that elegance doesn’t have to come at a high price.  She doesn’t go for exotic, pricey specialty plants.  She uses inexpensive, tried-and-true garden favorites like geraniums, begonias, lobelias, impatiens, and African daisies.  These all do well in our USDA garden zone 8B.

The base of a cracked birdbath became a pedestal for this container of geraniums and trailing lobelias.

These plants are popular for a reason:  Besides being reasonably priced and easy to find, most of them bloom all season long.

Mom plants her containers once in late spring, and they look beautiful well into fall.

This year I noticed a new monochromatic theme in some of her containers.

Some were simply planted with one plant.

But that simplicity allows us to fully appreciate the beauty of the featured plant – a Rieger begonia.

Or a cheerful African daisy.

3.  Use a Mix of Bargain Containers

Since Mom has an informal cottage garden, she doesn’t worry about making sure her containers match.  Like me, she has collected her containers over the years. Some were deeply discounted or garage sale finds, and a few she even got for free.  We both love the thrill of hunting for bargains – even when it comes to containers.

Things always seem to work out.  Mixing containers and moving them around gives her the freedom to experiment with different plant groupings every season.

She can enjoy the patina of a nicely weathered clay pot,

place a sweet hanging basket where a focal point is needed,

or go larger scale where she wants more impact.

A Corokia cotoneaster Raoul in a large frost-resistant container.

When it comes to containers, anything goes.

A vintage watering can hosts trailing periwinkle.

And an upturned saucer on a pedestal is home to a display of tiny succulents.

4.  Keep Plants Happy

For most common container annuals, it doesn’t take much to make sure they look good all season long.  Some simple care tips are:

  •  Consider sun exposure.  Place the plant where it gets the correct amount of light.  Check the plant’s tag  before you buy it to make sure it will be happy where you want to place it.
  • Water consistently.  Check the plant’s tag for water needs and combine it only with other plants that have the same water needs.
  • Fertilize regularly.  Most summer-blooming annuals need a little nourishment now and then to keep blooming all season long.
  • Deadhead regularly.   This works for many flowering annuals and perennials.  Don’t let blossoms go to seed.  Instead, pinch blooms off once they are spent so the plant puts its energy into developing new flowers.
  • Protect the plant from pests.  Slugs have been known to dine on impatiens, and aphids can sometimes plague a nasturtium. Luckily, with all the environmentally friendly pest control products out there these days, there is no need to use harmful chemicals to control pests.

5.  Be Patient with Imperfection

Some plants look beautiful even when they are winding down for the season.  This pansy is past its prime but still sweet.

In My Own Garden

In my own garden, I’ve been experimenting with coleus plants that I grew from seeds in my greenhouse.  Since slugs love them, I have been keeping my precious babies safe in containers.

But that is for another post.  My favorite container right now is on my front porch:  The begonia that thinks it’s a tree.

I’m way behind on my yard work this year, and my containers are really the only things bringing order to the chaos outside.  So now it’s time for me to sign off, get out there, and finally get to work.

Happy gardening, folks!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.

Wondering how you can view my previous posts?  The funnest way is to browse my photo gallery and click on any photo that interests you.

DisclosureAffiliate links are used below.

Sources:

  • I have found that summers are precious – too precious to spend time dragging a garden hose around, keeping it unkinked, and then spending time re-winding it.  So I’m really enjoying this self-retracting hose that my husband bought me last year.
  • Mom has many passions and talents, and writing is among them.  She currently has two books available on Amazon:  Year of the Angels, a touching historical fiction novel based on her childhood during WWII, and Cries from the Fifth Floor, a fun paranormal thriller/murder mystery.

 


You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

Lobsters, Lanterns, and Paul Revere

My husband Chris and I are pretty sensible people.  We tend to plan and think things through – usually.  But if you’ve ever read my About page, you know that our decision to buy our 1927 cottage was impulsive and driven by passion rather than reason.

And so was our recent trip back east.

It all happened because of Chris’s latest obsession:  Collecting and restoring vintage Coleman lanterns.

Turns out there’s a club for that – the International Coleman Collectors Club (or “ICCC”).  And just a few weeks ago, Chris found out that they were about to have their annual convention.  In Massachusetts.  A five hour flight for us.

Chris asked me if I’d go with him.

I booked our flights before he could change his mind.

But of course, I told him, we couldn’t go all that way just for the convention.  That would be silly.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to check a couple more things off my bucket list.

Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor

I feel so fortunate to live on the West Coast where we enjoy beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean.

The last rays of sun at Grayland Beach State Park in Washington State.

But I’m always curious about that “other” big ocean way across the country where the sun rises.  Maine in particular seemed so intriguing and romantic to me:  Rugged coastlines, old lighthouses, grizzled fishermen, colorful buoys – and Acadia National Park.

So as soon as our plane landed in Boston, we headed up the coast to the village of Bar Harbor, Maine.

Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine

I didn’t really have time to research Bar Harbor before our trip.  I’d always pictured it as rustic and weathered:  Crusty fishermen wearing heavy wool sweaters and pulling lobster traps off their boats.

But it was more gentrified than that:  Lots of great shops and restaurants, and many intriguing lodging options.

Eventually I did find my colorful buoys.

Bar Harbor, Maine

The best part is that Bar Harbor is at the entrance to Acadia National Park.

As national parks go, Acadia is small.  But there’s a lot to see.  On our first day in the park, we enjoyed the rugged coastline.

We caught a glimpse of the remote Egg Island Lighthouse before a heavy blanket of fog moved in.

Egg Island Lighthouse, Maine

And watched water rush through Thunder Hole.

Thunder Hole, Acadia National Park, Maine

We took a murky hike to the summit of Gorham Mountain – all 525 feet.  We learned that these mountains were once much taller, but over the ages erosion has worn them down to their granite bases.

I liked that we got to experience the Maine fog, even if it meant missing the views.

The next day the sun came out, and we made up for lost time.

We hiked at Cadillac Mountain.

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

We explored the carriage roads and magnificent stone bridges at Logan Pond.  John D. Rockefeller, Jr had these roads and bridges built when he owned the land.

Carriage Road, Acadia National Park, Maine

Carriage Road Bridge, Acadia National Park, Maine

And we visited the Bass Harbor lighthouse.

Bass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine

This part of Maine smells so good.  Everywhere we went, we were either smelling the fresh ocean air or the fragrant balsam fir.

The L.L.Bean headquarters are a few hours south of Bar Harbor in Freeport, Maine.  There are several  L.L.Bean stores located there and, when we walked into the first one, there it was again:  That smell of balsam fir.  So I bought it to take home.

I’m looking forward to making sachets with the large bag of balsam fir needles.

We also found a drying rack for our laundry room at an antique store.  It’s still working its way across the country to its new home on the West Coast.

But it’s time to move on to the world of vintage lanterns.

All Things Coleman

We headed to rural, inland Massachusetts – to the tiny town of Winchendon.  Here, collectors of all things Coleman, but especially vintage lanterns, were having their annual convention at the senior center.

Now coming from the Pacific Northwest, where our architecture is relatively new, I imagined the senior center to be a dated one-story  building with dingy linoleum floors.

Here is what I found.

Old Murdock Senior Center

The Old Murdock Senior Center was built in the 1880s and was originally a public high school.

Old Murdock Senior Center

In the auditorium, Coleman collectors from around the world shared their treasures, their stories, and their knowledge.

Vintage Coleman

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

From the unusual to the rustic, it was all here.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

One of the first Coleman lanterns: An Arc lantern, circa 1915.

We were newcomers to the club, and everyone was so welcoming. On the second evening, we joined them in a “light up” outside the senior center.  It was their way of honoring members who had passed – and it was beautiful.

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

Vintage Coleman Lanterns

But it was almost time to fly home, and we were only about an hour and a half from Boston.

Boston

We’d visited Boston before, and I just have to say that I love Boston. I love the architecture, the people, and most of all the history.  This is where it all began for the United States.

On our previous visit, we only saw the first part of Boston’s Freedom Trail.  So this time we started at Bunker Hill Monument and worked our way back to Paul Revere Square.

We toured the USS Constitution.  “Old Ironsides,” as they call her, is actually made of live oak.

UCC Constitution

Launched in 1797, she was the second battleship ever to be built for the U.S. Navy.  And she fought pirates.

USS Constitution

No trip to Boston is complete without a visit to a colonial-era graveyard.  We visited Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.  Some of the deceased buried here were born in the 1500s!

Colonial Graveyard, Boston

I loved the timing of our Boston visit:  Right before the 4th of July. There is no better reminder of what Independence Day is really about than touring the Old North Church, where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent from.

Old North Churck

And admiring a bronze statue of Paul Revere.

Paul Revere and St. Stephens Church

So, to my American readers, Happy Independence Day!

And liberty forever.

 

A cannon port on the USS Constitution

Posts on this website are for entertainment only.


Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

Resources:

  • Chris loves collecting vintage Coleman lanterns because he enjoys searching for them, and often the ones he finds are very affordable.  They don’ take up much space to store or display.  Etsy always seems to have a fun selection of all things Coleman.   Remember though that there is a lot to learn about safely lighting these lanterns.  Please use caution and do your research.
  • The drying rack I found at the antique store is probably not an antique.  But I love it because it’s expandable, and it has a shelf and pegs for more storage.  It look almost exactly like this one on Amazon.com.
  • The fragrance of balsam fir comes in many forms.  Now I wish I’d bought the adorable cabin incense burner.  I still might.

You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

Our Mudroom Before and After

Affiliate links are used in this post.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that we’ve been slowly refurbishing the smallest and most neglected room in our house – the mudroom.

Mudroom before

Little Room – Big Embarrassment

The mudroom had become an eyesore over the years. Which was unfortunate since it is the best way – the only way really –  to get out to the back patio where we sometimes have dinner parties.

So when we had people over, I was always tempted to stage some kind of distraction as they walked through the mudroom so they wouldn’t notice how dingy it was.  (“Oh, look out there! Is that an eagle?”)

Burkedecor.com is all new

The biggest challenge with the mudroom is that there are three doors and a large window in this 5′ X 7′ room.  So that really limits wall space.  In this room, we simply can’t do the cool storage lockers or vertical cabinets that look so great in other mudrooms.

Mudroom windows

But in 1927, when the house was built, no one was thinking about wall space in the mudroom because it wasn’t a mudroom then – it was a covered back porch.

The Makeover

Our mudroom makeover has taken months.  Since it’s next door to our laundry room, and they share the same concrete floor, we’ve been remodeling both rooms simultaneously.

Here is what’s been happening in the mudroom:

Floors

This all started back in January when we hired Kenji to refinish the scruffy concrete floors in both rooms.

He took the floors from this

old concrete floor

to this.

remodeled concrete floor

Repaint

The mudroom was in rough condition.  This corner was the worst part.

Southwest wall before new floor and new paint.

I painted the walls with Benjamin Moore Pale Oak.  For the trim, I used a white paint we’d had custom mixed to match our kitchen cabinets.  Since the mudroom  can be seen from the kitchen, this helps unify the spaces.

Southwest wall after paint

The ceiling, still beadboard from when the mudroom was the back porch, didn’t need repainting.  We kept the vintage parrot light here that matches the one we have in our kitchen.

Beadboard ceiling

Shelves

Now don’t laugh, but here is what was hanging on the wall near the back door before.

 

The large mirror/shelf was from Pottery Barn, and it was really something in its day.  But with wall space being such a premium in this room, a large mirror is the last thing we should have had taking up that space.

Plus the shelf above the mirror was so high that it wasn’t practical to store anything useful, so it became a catch-all for silly things.

We wanted to put shelving there instead, but we couldn’t find any ready-made shelves of the right dimension.

So Chris made these beautiful shelves.

Custom mudroom shelving

He bought a piece of fir, cut it to size, and used a router to soften the edges.  Then of course he sanded, stained, and finished the wood.

mudroom shelving

It was a fun little project, but I think the part he enjoyed the most was finding the antique shelf brackets on eBay.

antique brackets

We were very lucky, he says, that someone was selling four of them.

The wire baskets hold hats and gloves.  The shelves sit above a small shoe cabinet.  It all barely fits in the shallow space between the wall and the door.

 

Chris can display some of his vintage camping lanterns here.

1955 Coleman Lantern

The little shoe cabinet helped us solve a problem:

The Shoe Solution

Chris likes to keep most of his shoes in the mudroom near the door – which really makes sense.  But here is how our shoe situation was before.  Not good!

And, since I didn’t want to make things worse, I kept my shoes in the laundry room.

Notice too all the shopping bags stuffed into one cubby, and the basket for hats and gloves above that.  It was a little tower of clutter. And it left us nowhere to sit while putting on shoes.

So as our earliest mudroom project, we converted a little shelf unit that had been sitting by the back door into more shoe storage by adjusting its shelves.  Here is the post for that fun little project.

mudroom shoe storage

This freed up some space in and around the shoe bench.  I repainted the shoe bench and made a cushion.  Now we have somewhere to sit while putting on shoes.

Mudroom shoe bench

I got rid of the coat rack hanging above the bench since it looked terrible and we never used those jackets.  We use the shopping bags more, so I made a space for them instead.

So the area that looked like this

Mudroom before

now looks like this

Mudroom after

Something Missing

I do miss having a mirror in the room for that quick last look  before heading out, so I’ll find a space to hang a small mirror.  And then we’ll be done.

Clean and Simple

This little room is more functional now.  And it will stay this organized forever!

Just kidding.  Even I am not that delusional.

 

mudroom remodel

Behind the Door

Let’s open the laundry room door and take a quick look at the progress in there.

Since my last laundry room remodel update, we ordered a quartz countertop for the north wall where the appliances and sink will go.

And now we wait until mid-July for the installation.  In the meantime, we’ve been shopping for accessories including this stainless retractable clothesline, which I can’t wait to install.

But there is something new and exciting.  My brother, Dan, is building us a beautiful custom corner cabinet.

Custom corner cabinet

We wanted to get the most out of this tricky corner without taking up too much floor space.  This corner cabinet is our best option.  And there is no one better to build it than Dan, who has created some gorgeous built-ins for his own house.

It fits nicely under the window.  The drawer still needs to be installed, and it will have the same quartz countertop as the appliance wall.  But it’s already looking perfect for the space.

Materials for the cabinet cost almost nothing.  Dan used old plywood he’d salvaged from his kitchen remodel.  And I had two extra cabinet doors (for our new cabinets) left over from our own kitchen remodel. Luckily they were the right size for the corner cabinet.

So now the corner cabinet matches the sink base.  And both laundry room cabinets match our kitchen cabinets.

And my brother rocks.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Related Posts:

Linking up with:

Garden Tips We Can Use Right Now

I’m almost afraid to say this but the rain has finally stopped – for now. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had an unusually cold and wet spring. But now it seems that we’ve turned a corner.

We’ve even enjoyed dinners on our patio these past few nights. This got me thinking about some of my previous posts on gardening and outdoor entertaining.  A few of them contain information that we can use right now, so I thought I would share a little roundup.

A Peony Experiment

In my garden, the peonies are beginning to pop.  I love peonies as cut flowers, but when I bring them inside there are always a few earwigs and other unpleasant cooties hitching a ride.

Well there’s an easy way not only to avoid this but to time peonies to bloom indoors exactly when I want them to.  Check out A Peony Experiment to learn more.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B

This time of year always has me thinking about my old neighbor, Mr. B.  His tomato plants were legendary, and he taught me everything I know about raising tomatoes.  In Tomato Tips from Mr. B, I pass along his old-school advice.

Tomato Tips from Mr. B.

A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party

In summer, we enjoy dinners on our back patio.  And it’s even more fun when friends or family can join us.  But nothing can ruin a dinner party faster than a few pesky insects.

In A (Mostly) Bug-Free Patio Party, I share a few tips that help keep bugs away.

Using Bold Colors for Garden Structures

One of my very first blog posts was about choosing bold colors for man-made garden structures.  My writing style has changed since I wrote it, and hopefully my photos are better now.  But I still feel the same way about using bold colors for the outdoors.

Whites and barely there colors are still popular indoor paint trends. But outdoors is a whole different story. In a lush garden, accents and small buildings can get lost if they are not given a strong color.

My post Go Bold and Have Fun with Garden Structures shares the color we chose for our little garden shed – and gives a tour of the interior.

Potting Bench

But that’s enough for today.  The sun is shining, and it’s time to get out there before the weather changes again!

Posts on this blog are for entertainment only.


You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

Two Days in Victoria B.C.

Recently my mom, Erika, and I made a short visit to Victoria, British Columbia.  Since we live in Western Washington, we’d both visited Victoria many times over the years.

The city is named after Queen Victoria – and the British influence is strong here.

We were looking forward to visiting some of our favorite sights – the Empress Hotel, the Inner Harbour, Chinatown, and stunning Butchart Gardens.

Victoria is a user-friendly, walkable city, but this time we decided to broaden our options by renting a car.

Maybe it was good that we only had a cartoon-like tourist map, no in-car navigation system, and no cellphone reception. Because while trying to find things, we sometimes stumbled upon unexpected gems.

So today I’m pairing each of my old favorite sights with a hidden gem.

Old Favorite: Butchart Gardens

The concept of Butchart Gardens began over 100 years ago and it evolved over the course of many years.  Today it’s a paradise filled with inspiration for any gardener.

Its Sunken Garden is the site of an old limestone quarry.

There is also a Mediterranean Garden,

a Japanese Garden, and a Rose Garden.

As in many gardens, the best things sometimes happen by accident – like flower petals littering a pond.

The gardens are constantly changing with the seasons, so each visit to Butchart Gardens is unique.

Hidden Gem:  Scenic Marine Drive

Butchart Gardens is a bit of a drive from downtown Victoria.  Most visitors arrive via tour bus.  But since we were driving, we decided to design our own route to the gardens – a bit windy but worth it.

We took Scenic Marine Drive, which starts near downtown Victoria on Dallas Road – a few blocks behind the Parliament Building.  From there we drove up the coastline for several gorgeous miles before we headed inland and cut over to Butchart Gardens.

I didn’t get any photos, but we passed beautiful beaches and trails. We also saw some of the nicest homes  and neighborhoods in Victoria.  Taking this drive will cure anyone of the notion that Victoria is just a British-themed tourist town.

We relied on our tourist cartoon map and everything turned out okay.  But for this journey I would advise either having a navigation system or a much better map.

Old Favorite:  The Inner Harbour

One of the best places to sightsee and people watch, the Inner Harbour is the heart of downtown Victoria.

Surrounding it is the Empress Hotel

and the Parliament Building.

This is the kind of place where couples hold hands.  And they don’t walk – they stroll. Old world charm abounds, and no one wants to miss anything.

Hidden Gem:  Fisherman’s Wharf

But a more colorful and quirky marina is found at Fisherman’s Wharf, a short drive (or about a 20-minute walk) from the harbour steps.  It’s also reachable by water taxi.

Colorful restaurants serve seafood in a casual al fresco environment. Equally colorful is the eclectic mix of houseboats.

And the locals are friendly (just don’t feed them).

Old Favorite:  Craigdarroch Castle

Craigdarroch Castle is a quick uphill drive from downtown Victoria.  The castle was built in the 1890s by the prominent and wealthy Dunsmuir Famiy.  And what a castle it is.

Touring the castle is a great way to see how the upper class lived in Victorian times in . . . well . . . Victoria.

A large lawn surrounds the castle, but there’s not much of a garden.  The neighborhood is beautiful, with so many old craftsman mansions.

So after touring the castle,  Mom and I decided to just drive around.  And we happened upon a beautiful garden – one that really should be married to the castle.

Hidden Gem:  The Government House Gardens

The Government House is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor.  I was jaded after visiting Craigdarroch Castle, so I didn’t find the Government House itself to be a particularly appealing.

But its extensive gardens certainly are.

Much of the garden is nestled into a rocky landscape.  But instead of fighting the rocks, the garden blends with them.

 

There is also a formal rose garden.

And lush plant combinations.

Two More Classics

For a first-time visitor to Victoria, two other downtown stops worth seeing are

Chinatown

It’s small, but it’s the second-oldest Chinatown in North America.  It’s noisy and colorful.

You never know what you’ll find in the alleyways.

The Empress Hotel

I think of the Inner Harbour as a crown, and the Empress Hotel as its crown jewel.

The old-world elegance is tangible here, especially in contrast to Chinatown.

The Empress is worth a visit – even if  it isn’t as accessible to the public as it used to be.

I remember as a kid sitting in the grand lobby of the Empress and writing post cards – even though we weren’t actually staying there.  Back then, anyone could go in and soak up the atmosphere.

The lobby has since been converted to a lovely tea room.

Beyond the tea room is a casually elegant restaurant/lounge where Mom and I enjoyed a nice lunch.

Goodbye For Now, Victoria

Despite visiting many sights during our two days, we never felt rushed.

At the end of our stay, the cartoon map was tattered and torn.  And I sadly handed in the keys to our tiny “economy level” Yaris. (The Rollerskate, as we were starting to call it).

Our days of finding hidden gems are over – for now.

Posts on this blog are for entertainment only.

You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

 

 

A Laundry Room Remodel Progress Report

It’s been a while since I mentioned our laundry room remodel, which began in early February.  That was when my husband, Chris, and my brother, Dan, demolished walls and installed new plumbing, electrical, and heat.  They were on a roll!

Then came the winter colds, conflicting schedules, and vacations. I found a nice little laundromat near home.  It was in a fun walking neighborhood with good coffee and shops nearby.  So not having laundry facilities at home was fairly painless.

Still I’m happy to report that I don’t have to go there anymore.

The laundry room isn’t finished yet, but we’ve made enough progress to put the machines back.  Here is what’s been going on:

Vintage Texture for the Walls

We wanted to treat the walls with some sort of vintage-inspired texture.  I was considering floor-to-ceiling painted shiplap.  But, between the shiplap and the open shelves we planned to install, that might be too many horizontal lines.

Chris suggested beadboard.  Always a classic, but beadbord is most commonly used for wainscoting and rarely seen as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover.

Then I remembered some photos I’d seen on an Instagram account and blog called Vibeke Design.  Vibeke’s photos are so gorgeous they instantly lower my blood pressure. But now the backdrop for those photos had me thinking – that charming paneled wall.

Photo courtesy of Vibeke Design

It still looked like beadboard, but the wider-spaced planks somehow made it look more appropriate as a floor-to-ceiling wall cover.  We both loved the look, and we wanted to find it in easy-to-install 4X8 panels.

The big box stores didn’t carry them.  But we were able to special order panels from a locally owned lumber yard.  They arrived quickly, and they weren’t expensive.

For me, the panels were easy to install – because I didn’t install them. Chris did.  And if you read my previous post about this remodel, you already know that the laundry room walls are not sheetrock.  They are not even lath and plaster.  They are mortar and mesh.

Which basically means they are made of cement.

So Chris had to pre-drill every nail hole and keep track of where the drilled holes were located so he could secure the panels with screws.

This was his first attempt at something like this, and he did an amazing job.

Our house is old, so the walls are not straight or level.  But somehow Chris managed to hang the panels so that all the vertical lines look straight.

The panels were thin enough to hang flush with the original subway tile baseboard, which we wanted to keep.

New panels with original subway tile baseboard

Crown Molding

We found new crown molding that matches the original crown molding in the mudroom.

With crown molding installed, before paint.

 

Chris caulked the seams between the crown molding and the ceiling – and also between the wall panels.  Now I have to look hard to even find the seams.

The seams in each corner of the room will be covered later with a narrow cove molding.

Prep and Paint

Now the room was ready for me to paint.

The paneling looked gorgeous, and I was very nervous about messing it up with a mediocre paint job.  So I took my time with the prep work.

I did a lot of sanding, spackling, priming, cleaning, dusting and vacuuming.

Chris took the windows apart so they were easier for me to sand. He stripped decades of paint off of the window hardware.

He even cleaned the old cloth cords that attach to the lead window weights.  He worked on the 90-year-old windows until they opened like new.

I used the same trim paint we’d used in our kitchen remodel.

We’d had custom trim paint mixed to match the warm white of our new kitchen cabinets.  When I recently repainted our mudroom, I used the same trim paint there.  The laundry room can be seen and accessed from the mudroom, so the two rooms tie together nicely now.

I love that soft shade of white so much that I had more of the same paint mixed in a matte finish for the walls.

The panels were already primed white, so painting white over white eventually had me questioning my eyesight and my sanity.  I used a roller and then carefully backbrushed each groove and panel.  Of course multiple coats were needed. Or were they?  I couldn’t really tell.

I never actually finished the job, Chris just told me it was time to put the paint brush down and step away.

A Sink Base

The sink base we ordered for the laundry sink is the same brand, style, and color as the base for our kitchen sink.

We put the sink base, still in its wrapping, temporarily in place so we could get a sense of how deep the countertop will be and how we should space the open shelves.

We used blue tape to help us visualize spacing ideas for the shelves. The plywood helped us get a sense of what the countertop depth would be.

For months, we’d had the floors covered to protect them.  But now we were finally able to uncover them.  It was nice to see those beautiful refinished concrete floors that Kenji had worked so hard on.

Open Shelves

I had ordered discounted shelves from Home Decorators long before we’d even finished planning our laundry room remodel.

It was so exciting to finally see them on the wall.

Chris thought ahead on this one:  Knowing that we would be hanging these shelves, he’d earlier noted where the wall studs were located, and he placed additional bracing inside the wall so that we’d have something solid to screw these shelves into.

And then he mapped it all for future reference.

All so I could have my pretty shelves.  I’d ordered these shelves because, well, they were a screaming deal.  But more importantly they are shallow enough not to obstruct the window.

With the appliances placed against this wall, I’ll need a stepladder to reach almost anything stored here.  So these shelves will store things I won’t need  often – like shoe polish or jewelry cleaners. And these things can be in attractive containers or baskets.

I’ll stash the things I use often in the sink cabinet – and in a nifty new corner cabinet that my brother Dan will be building for us.  It will fit under this window on the opposite side of the laundry room.

I’m excited about this since Dan has made some beautiful built-ins for his own house.  Check out his dining room remodel, including a built-in china hutch.

Appliances

So the sink base has been hustled back out to the garage for the time being and, just a few days ago, Chris reinstalled our washer and dryer.

I wanted to hug them.

What’s Next

The washer and dryer will stay in their present locations.  The sink and sink base will go between them.  We considered other options such as stacking the washer and dryer or placing them side-by-side and putting the sink by the window.

But, right or wrong, we are hung up on the symmetry we’ll get by placing the sink in the middle.

There is more to come, including lots of little details like a drying rack over the sink, new window coverings, a new light fixture, all kinds of hooks, and more shelves on other walls.  But here are some of the bigger items:

A Sink

A stainless steel deep sink will go in the sink cabinet.

A Countertop

We’ll install a countertop over the washer/dryer and around the sink.  This should pull everything  together and provide lots of space to fold clothes.

A Corner Cabinet

Dan’s corner cabinet will give us storage without obstructing the flow of the room or taking up too much floor space.

A Built-in Ironing Board

This will probably go on the wall next to the dryer.

Before and Afters Coming

I still haven’t shown you what the laundry room looked like before all of this started.  Just for fun, have a look at the little mess that used to be where the new corner cabinet is going.

Once the remodel is finished (or close, anyway) I’ll post more before photos.  So stay tuned!

Posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


My Laundry Wish List

Disclosure: Affiliate Links are used below.

Classic stainless fixtures make any laundry room feel clean and timeless.   I’m dreaming of these, although not all of them will work for our project.

Left to right:

Stainless Retractable Clothesline  | Ikea Wall Mount Clothes Drying Rack | Stainless Aero-W Folding Clothes Rack  | Trinity Stainless Steel Utility Sink


 Related Posts:

Linking up with:

Shopping for Mother Nature

On Earth Day, and some of us will be planting trees or cleaning parks. Some of us might just be out enjoying the beauty of nature. It’s a day of good intentions.  But it’s just a day.

The truth is, we can help the planet all year long, year after year, just by tweaking the ways that we shop.  And I’m not talking about big sacrifices or time-consuming rituals because for most of us those don’t last.

No, today I’m sharing my six favorite

Painless Ways to Help Mother Nature

Dislcosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

1.  Shop to Save Money

I love that helping the planet often helps my budget. Take for instance conserving water and electricity:  Great for the planet, but it also saves me money.  Buying in bulk often means less packaging to dispose of, and it saves money.

So does buying used items – or even getting things for free.  I save money – and I reduce my carbon footprint – by not purchasing a new item that took who-knows-how-much energy to produce and transport.

I never know what I will find at the thrift store, but I’ve learned to look there first – even if my budget supports buying an item new.

For example, I will never buy a new vase or glass container again. There are so many to choose from at the thrift stores.  Why help create a demand to produce even more of this stuff?

It’s a fun way to find unusual items.  My husband loves the shopgoodwill.com auctions and recently found us this coffee maker.  I’ve never seen another one like it.

Babies and toddlers need so many things – strollers, bouncy chairs, toys – the list goes on.  Because of this, my sweet little niece, just over a year old, could potentially have a huge carbon footprint!

No! I don’t want to hurt my planet!

But luckily my sister-in-law, Maura, has found ways to make her baby more Earth-friendly.

She often finds things for my niece for free on her buy nothing group.  She also gets items though Facebook buy/sell groups. She joins groups with a certain interest (in her case, baby items) and in areas close to her home.

Maura always makes sure that any item she picks up complies with current safety regulations – and she cleans it thoroughly before baby uses it.

Babies outgrow things before they wear them out, and I can never tell which of my niece’s things are new or which might be secondhand – because all of her things always look so fresh and clean.

Maura can also sell or give away baby items through these Facebook groups. Baby items can be hard to part with emotionally, so she likes that she can actually meet the person who will be taking her items and that the person will really use and appreciate them.  And, in the process, Maura is helping another family become environmentally friendly.
Of course, as with any online group or service, it’s important to exercise caution when meeting strangers on Buy Nothing or Facebook groups.

2. Use and Buy Less Plastic

Plastic takes energy to manufacture and more energy to recycle.  Worse, so many plastic items never make it to a recycle center.  An alarming amount of plastic winds up in our oceans.  Check out this shocking photo by National Geographic.

Here are some easy way that I buy and use less plastic:

  • Bringing reusable bags to the grocery store.  This is an easy habit for me since my city has banned stores from using plastic grocery bags.
  • Buying compostable trash can liners and sandwich bags.  They are just as easy to use as their plastic counterparts.  I use Bio Bags, which are available in various sizes.
  • Getting a good-quality reusable water bottle and refilling it (from either a large water container or good tap water) instead of buying dozens of those little 12- or 16-ounce plastic bottles of water.  Every city has different water quality, but in my city the tap water is excellent.  So it always surprises me when I see someone buying bottled water at the grocery store.  What a waste!
  • Seeking out cotton clothing and textiles.  I just learned this one: Microfiber fabrics are made of microplastics.  And when these fabrics go through the washing machine, tiny microplastic fibers are washed into our water systems and eventually wind up in our food chain.

3.  Shop AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com

The same products that are offered on Amazon. com are available at AmazonSmile.  The difference is that when you make an eligible purchase on AmazonSmile, 0.5% of that purchase goes to the charity of your choice.

That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up if you purchase from Amazon regularly.  And once you select your charity and remember to go to AmazonSmile instead of Amazon.com, it’s a completely painless way to help the planet.

4.  Buy Bar Soap Instead of Liquid Soap

Liquid soap seems more convenient to use than bar soap, but it’s also more expensive and takes more energy to manufacture.  And when we use liquid soap, we tend to use more of it than we would bar soap – a small but steady drain on the environment and our pocketbooks. And when the liquid soap bottle is empty, recycling it uses far more energy than recycling the bar soap wrapper.

But when buying bar soap, or any soap, watch out for number 5 below.

5.  Avoid Palm Oil

The production of palm oil has had a devastating impact on rainforests, animal species, and indigenous people. It is mostly grown and produced in Indonesia and Malaysia.

And palm oil is in everything from margarine to cosmetics.  But the good news is that for every item containing palm oil, there is a similar product that doesn’t contain it.  I just read the ingredients and avoid anything that has palm oil.

Of course it’s not always that easy because palm oil can be listed under many different names, including simply “vegetable oil.”  But as a simple rule of thumb, I walk away from anything that lists “palm oil” as an ingredient.  And, when in doubt, it never hurts to Google a product.

For more information on the impacts of palm oil, check out this National Geographic Channel documentary with Harrison Ford.

I try to buy items that contain easy-to-recognize ingredients.  And to help with this, I shop at the farmers market.

6.  Shop Your Local Farmers Market

Instead of heading to the boring grocery store, I prefer a fun weekend excursion with my husband to our local farmers market.

I love seeing people with their kids and dogs and maybe running across friends or neighbors.  We can listen to street musicians and sample unique cuisine.

We often find locally grown organic vegetables, pesticide-free flowers, humanely raised meat, and free-range eggs.

At the farmers market, everyone is a winner.  We have fun, buy wholesome groceries, support our local farmers, and help the environment by buying local and organic.

And farmers markets are often great places to find unique and locally made arts and crafts.

Let’s Share

Of course there are so many ways, big and small, to help the planet. What are your favorite ways?  Leave a comment if you have something innovative to share.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements.

 


You might also enjoy:

 


Linking up with:

Three Small Towns Near Sedona

Recently, Chris and I visited the Sedona area in Arizona.  We’d always heard that the hiking there was great, and we weren’t disappointed.

We hiked the beautiful red hills that surround the town.

 

And we explored the cliff dwellings and petroglyphs left by the Sinagua people who occupied the area more than 1200 years ago.

Cliff Dwellings at the Palatki Ruins
Petroglyphs at the Palatki Ruins

Neither of us had been to the Grand Canyon before, and it was only a few hours from Sedona.

The Grand Canyon

Meanwhile, back in Sedona, reservations were essential at almost every popular restaurant.  There were spas, resorts, and upscale shops.  There was everything that a tourist could want.

But that just wasn’t enough for me.  I’m the weirdo who wants to duck under the velvet rope and see what’s behind the curtain.  I always have to find a story.

So we found three little towns near Sedona with stories to tell.

Clarkdale

We didn’t actually stay in Sedona.  Thanks to Airbnb, we found a charming one-bedroom bungalow in the nearby town of Clarkdale for less than similar lodging in Sedona would have cost.

After we settled in, we sipped wine on the front porch and watched the neighbor’s chickens stroll through the front yard.

Little House Historic Cottage

But on our first walk around around the quiet neighborhood, we noticed something interesting:  Almost every house was a version of our house.  They were all the same one-bedroom bungalow.  Blocks and blocks of them.

Some had been added on to or altered over the years.  And every paint job was different.  But it was obvious that at one time they had all been almost identical.

Every now and again the pattern was interrupted by a different, and slightly larger, Craftsman-era house.  And some blocks had only the same repeating Spanish-style bungalow.

A chat with a local confirmed what we were beginning to suspect: Clarkdale was built as a company town.  It was founded in 1912 to house employees of a large copper smelter.

We learned there were several styles of repeating cottages, including Spanish Colonial, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, English Cottage Revival, and Eclectic.  Most were built between 1914 and the mid-1930s.

What a fun little town!  This brochure has photos of the different house styles.

Downtown Clarkdale is small.

But it’s home to the Arizona Copper Art Museum.

And the train station for the Verde Canyon Railroad – a pleasant four-hour train ride through beautiful, rugged countryside that is otherwise inaccessible.

Verde Canyon Railroad

And the bungalows and cottages weren’t the first buildings in Clarkdale.  It’s also home to the Tuzigoot National Monument, an ancient pueblo that unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore.

Jerome

So Clarkdale is where the copper was smelted.  But where did that copper come from?  Nearby Jerome.

Perched precariously on a hillside, many buildings in Jerome seem ready to slide.  And some have.

In the early 1900s, Jerome was a bustling mining town of over 10,000.  But by the 1950s, it had become Arizona’s largest ghost town.

Today, Jerome is a colorful tourist stop with a strong and active art community.

But despite the galleries, studios, shops, and restaurants, that old ghost town remains.  These days, artists and ghosts live side by side.

A ruined building stands sentry over a glass blower’s studio.

Raku Gallery/ La Victoria glass blowing studio

Visitors toss coins into the skeleton of the Bartlett Hotel.  In the 1930s, the hotel was declared unstable because of slides.   It was slowly picked apart for salvage, and today this is all that remains.

We visited Jerome State Historic Park, which includes a nice local history museum in the Douglas Mansion.

Remnants of Jerome’s mining past sit idly outside the mansion.

 

Down the road a bit, a tiny pocket park encloses the 900-foot-deep Audrey Shaft of the Little Daisy Mine.

Looking down into the Audrey Shaft.

And this is how miners got down there – basically in a big tin can!

But it’s time to say goodbye to the ghosts of Jerome and head over to nearby Cottonwood.

Cottonwood

The greater Cottonwood area includes conveniences like large grocery stores and big box home stores.  But for a charming diversion into yesteryear, there is Old Town Cottonwood.

Formerly a farming community, Cottonwood today has restaurants, shops, galleries, and antique stores.

We enjoyed the relaxed, retro vibe.  And we never knew what kind of old architectural detail we’d discover just by going into a coffee shop.

Old Town Cafe, Cottonwood

So would we visit this area again?  Absolutely.  There is much more to see.

But there are a few things we will do differently next time.  Here is a breakdown of what we did wrong and what we did right.

What we will do differently:

  • Allow more time to get to and through the airport (we nearly missed our flight).
  • Book the flight for when there isn’t a special event causing crowding at the airport and slowing airport security screening (see above).
  • Bring binoculars!
  • Rent a 4-wheel drive.  Roads to some of the best hikes are unpaved and bumpy.
  • Stay longer – and plan more time for the Grand Canyon.

What we did right:

  • Found a “home base” that really felt like home – that bungalow in Clarkdale.
  • Checked the weather forecast for Sedona before we left home and made sure we brought appropriate clothing.  We were prepared when it snowed on one of our hikes!

  • Visited an old friend on the way back to the airport in Phoenix.  She took us on a beautiful desert hike.  It’s always good to catch up with old friends when you can.
Saguaro Cacti
  • Brought only carry-on luggage.   We always do this, and good thing this time or we would have missed that flight.

How I Make Using Carry-On Luggage Easier

Disclosure:  Affiliate Links are used below.

Not everyone can or wants to travel with only carry-on luggage, but in case you are interested, here are a couple of small ways I make it more pleasant:

I pack simple, wrinkle-resistant clothes.  I place them into a 17  X 12 packing cube.

It fits perfectly into my carry-on case.  I toss in a small bamboo charcoal air freshener to keep my clothes smelling fresh during transport.

Of course I pack things under and on top of the packing cube to make the most of the space I have.  And I take a medium-sized day pack as my other piece of carry-on.

When I get to my destination, I just put the packing cube in a dresser drawer in the bedroom and unzip it, and voilà! My clothes are unpacked.

I also toss the charcoal air freshener into the drawer to keep my clothes fresh.

This works especially well on road trips where I’m staying somewhere different every night.  Keeping the clothes in the packing cube, I can easily plunk them into a drawer in the evening and them put them back into the suitcase the next morning.  Then it’s off to the next destination.

It just feels more civilized than living out of a suitcase – yet it takes almost no time.

Of course, packing cubes come in many sizes and are also handy for larger checked luggage.

And after I get home and unpack, the air freshener stays in my empty suitcase to keep it fresh until the next time I travel.

Which I hope will be soon.

All posts on this blog are for entertainment only and are not tutorials or endorsements


You might also enjoy:


Linking up with:

CREATIVE HOME AND GARDEN IDEAS FROM THE HOUSE DOWN THE STREET