Moving Right Along…

We went to visit the house again last weekend to find the roof almost complete!  Here’s the latest:



3The front porch where I’m want a rocking chair in the corner for savoring our slice of mountain view.
4The garage.  Tequila is standing in the doorway to the laundry room.

5The garage from the laundry room doorway.

6The kitchen and great room from just outside the laundry room.

7The kitchen, studio and entry way from just outside the laundry room.

8The dining room and kitchen from the great room.  The laundry room is off to the left.

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The entryway and hall bathroom.

9My studio is taking shape!  EEKK! 🙂

12Guest room #1

13Guest room #2

14The Master Bedroom!

15From the rear, garage side.  I’m thinking my garden will fit nicely in that area behind the garage there!

16The rear, bedroom side.  A little extra cleared room as part of the backyard.

And the best part of the site visit was finding this little gem just a few minutes away from our home!  17SOOO going to be making friends with the owners for access to an AMAZING photo location!  I’m already dreaming up cool ideas for family and senior sessions here!


A Master Closet Case

As promised, here’s my plans for our Master closet.  We decided to forgo having the builder install any shelving in the closets because we didn’t want to have to ‘work around’ the builder basic shelving or worse rip it out to make it functional for us.  So without further a’do here’s the grand plan for our closet!

ClosetFloorplanWe will each get one side of the closet – of course mine is the bigger side – and my full length jewelry cabinet mirror will hang on the back wall.  There is a funny little indent into the closet at the back because of our toilet being in a separate room in our Master Bath which is next door to the closet. At first that made me worry that it would be difficult to design around, but in the end it worked out pretty well for what we needed.

My side will have double bar space, laundry baskets like this, a couple shelves and a tall hanging space.  Here’s the drawing of the layout.  I still need to measure everything out, but since it’s a simple design I figure we can move things to fit the materials and space.

Jenna's SideMatt’s side will be much simpler with just two rods for hanging and a top shelf along the entire space.  We don’t really use the shelving in our rental’s closet so we figure we don’t need much in our house.

MattsSideThe funny little pop out wall will hold my high heel shoes with something like this and my boots will sit in a pretty copper boot tray at the bottom of the wall.  I plan to add some sort of hanging space for my larger costume jewelry that doesn’t fit well in the mirror cabinet above the shoes.

Picture 5Then the back wall will hold the mirror cabinet, which we plan to mount in the wall.  Based on our preliminary measurements of the framing it should fit between the studs with just a slight shaving of the boards.

BackWallThe crawlspace access is almost smack dab in the middle of the floor of our closet so we plan to put down an area rug to cover it.  I figure you usually come into the closet from the bathroom to get dressed and thus want something soft and warm underfoot while choosing an outfit anyway.

Since it’s a fairly simple layout we should be able to get it set up the first day we’re in the house, especially if we measure and purchase the materials before hand, so they’re ready to be installed.  The simple design also means we won’t be spending oodles on some fancy closet kit either!  I think that might just be the best part of the whole project!

So that’s the master plan.  What do you think?

Potty Pondering…

Now that the house is starting to take shape and I can envision the rooms within the framed walls, I’ve started thinking about details of each space.  The one in particular I keep pondering the most is our master bathroom.  Although I love the layout of the Master Bathroom, there isn’t much space for storage so I’m trying to incorporate storage into my design.  Of course that means I have a host of ideas pinned just waiting to be put into action.  Here are a few!

I plan to start with making the vanity super functional by framing in the mirror and adding shelves like this where I can display frequently used items in ‘pretty’ containers.

Inside the vanity there will be lots of organized storage with something like this.  Luckily, I spotted bins similar to this at the dollar store the other day so it shouldn’t cost much to create!

Then after we settle in I want to up the ainty with a hidden drawer around the sink bowls out of the false drawer fronts. It’s perfect to hold my makeup and brushes, while the hubby’s side can house his razor and brush along with other daily use items.

I also have plans to add shelves like these above the toilet to store extra towels and toilet paper along with a few decor items just to make it pretty.

Because of the layout in our bathroom there isn’t a good spot for a towel bar within easy reach of the shower.  This revelation led me to consider using towel hooks on the tiny sliver of wall next to the shower similar to this instead.  I’ve really come to love the idea because I’m constantly trying to get the towels folded and hanging evenly on the double bar we have in the rental right now.  Plus using hooks should make the towels dry faster!

The shower will have built in storage with two niche shelves similar to this designed to hold shampoo and other necessities.  That means the shower caddy we currently use can go live in the guest bathroom!

And since there really isn’t a logical spot for a towel bar in the guest bathroom layout I’m going to put them behind the door like this. Such an great idea for a small space!  I love this idea for hand towels, especially since it goes with my ‘seaside’ decor in the guest bathroom, but I plan to use it on the wall next to the vanity rather than under the window. Definitely better than those ugly towel rings, which I despise.

I also love this idea for both bathrooms! How unique is that!  And super simple to change out!  Apparently there is a wealth of styles and varieties to choose from, so I’ll have to pick something different for each potty!


The last time I shared pictures of our home construction, it was little more than a hole in the ground with concrete footers.  A lot has changed in the 10 days since!  I went back to see the progress the following Saturday and found the floor joists finished and exterior walls going up.

1From the driveway.

2 From the back corner of the back yard.

I met the hubs at the site yesterday since I had the day off.  There had been quite a bit more progress!  All of the interior walls are up and they are set to begin installing the roof trusses.

3The garage.  I love how that huge door makes my truck look teeny tiny!

4The man door in the garage.  The other opening will be the electrical panel.

Entering the house from the garage, where the laundry room will be and my new studio off the kitchen.

7The dining room and back door from the kitchen.

8The kitchen with my PANTRY framed in!

9The great room from the dining room.

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The hallway to the bedrooms off the great room and the entry way next to my studio.

12The hubs envisioning the ‘view’ from bed out the slider in our master.

13The other view from bed, the closet on the left and the bathroom on the right.

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The master closet.  I’m already planning this space out to be as efficient as possible.  Watch for a post about that soon. And guest room #1.

16Guest room #2.

17The back side of the house.

18A more straight on shot of the back of the house so you can see ALL THOSE WINDOWS!

19And of course we had to make sure the garage door would be high enough to fit the hub’s big rig! 🙂

Stay tuned for more pictures of the progress and little projects of choosing things as we move on to the details.  I’m hoping to get some shots with the roof on in the next week!

My Top Tips On Shopping Smart

I consider myself a savvy shopper.  By no means am I one of those crazed coupon extremists, but I do love me a good bargain. Some call it being cheap or frugal.  I consider it just plain common sense.  Why pay more for something when you don’t have to?  Sure there are times when I will pay more than I might want to for an item because I need it right away or because it’s what will work the best, but overall I generally refuse to pay for convenience when it’s unnecessary.  However, I’m logical about the choice.

Just today I purchased yogurt at the grocery store during my lunch hour for .20 more than it sells for at the commissary.  Why?  Because in order to go to the commissary I’d have to rearrange my schedule to fit their less user-friendly hours and drive out of my way when I don’t have any other reason to go to that area.  So in the end the extra time, gas and hassle aren’t worth the .20/yogurt I’d save.  Now if I’d save enough to almost get them for free, I might reconsider.

Without doubt, I learned my thrifty ways from my parents, who found every way to stretch a dollar both at home and in their business.  Unfortunately, not everyone has had that type of an example.  For some the only experience they have with saving money is watching some unrealistic ‘reality’ show or a period when money was tight and they were forced to comparison shop to meet their needs.  Neither of those tend to create a lasting desire to shop smart.   But imagine what might happen to our country’s economy if more people adopted a thrifty mind-set or better yet if our government did!  Now I know that’s a pipe dream, but at least it’s a good one.

So although I don’t think it will change the course of our nation’s economic turmoils, I’ve decided to share my top tips on bargain shopping for those who might just be dipping their toes into the money saving pool.

  1. Make a list.  I rarely go any store without a list, even when I’m running in for a few quick items.  Why?  Because having a list keeps me focused so I end up leaving with the items I came for and less additional items.  Preparing a list ahead of time also allows me to pull coupons I might have for the items I plan to purchase so I don’t forget to take or use them.
  2. Stop and think about each purchase before making it.  Ask yourself, do I really need this or is this an impulse?  If you really do need the item, is there a better priced option available without consequences (reduced quality, additional time or effort required, etc.)?  It sounds simple and it really is.  Sometimes just taking a moment to consider why you are purchasing something will make you realize how that purchase will affect your budget and other needs.
  3. Comparison shop.  In today’s marketplace there are multiple options for almost any item we would buy.  I’m not just talking about choosing a store brand over a name brand.  I compare coupon values and store sales.  Although I might have a coupon for one brand doesn’t mean that’s the one I should buy.  I often find that the price after a coupon is still higher than the sale price of a comparable item from a different brand.  Or a coupon might require that I purchase multiples of an item that I know will go to waste, costing me more in the long run.  So break out the calculator on your smart phone or carry a pocket version with you and figure out which is the best option.
  4. Learn to use rewards, because it’s like getting paid to shop.  If a store I shop at often offers a reward program I’m using it because honestly, this is where I save the most.  One of my favorites is fuel points for each dollar spent at a company’s retail store, earning up to $1/gallon discount when you purchase fuel from their gas stations.  I also earn rewards on my credit cards which can be redeemed for gift cards, often for $5-10 more in value than the amount I’m redeeming – which is perfect for gift giving or choosing cards at retailers where I shop often for additional value.  Some of my ‘store’ credit cards offer 0% interest on some purchases or earn me reward certificates for a certain dollar amount each time I spend a specified amount.  Of course the goal of their program is to get you back into the store to buy more, but if you use tip #2 you won’t fall into that trap.  I often make purchases on a particular account because it offers me a reward that paying with another method doesn’t.  That doesn’t mean you should sign up for every card you hear about.  Weigh the value of the rewards offered and decide if it’s a good fit for your shopping habits, budget and credit.
  5. If you really love something, buy it.  I’m talking about shopping smart.  Sure that often means saving money, but if you truly love an item and will enjoy it in your life for years to come it’s worth the investment and that makes it a smart purchase.  I used to pass over an item I really liked because of the price tag, only to purchase a less expensive item which either didn’t last as long or I didn’t like as much and ended up replacing soon thereafter often compiling the cost to be more than the initial item I wanted.  Instead, if I purchase something that makes me smile every time I see it I got a bargain.

Of course there are other tips out there like asking retailers to price match, purchasing certain items at certain times of the year (Google it for the specifics), avoiding known over-priced convenience items like these and buying annual items at the end of a season when stores are closing out inventories.  But these 5 are my basic methods for saving money without a lot of effort.  I hope they help you become a smart shopper or improve on your budding thrifty skills.

To Cut or Not to Cut… That is the Question!

I’ve mentioned before that my hair and I have a love/hate relationship.  Maybe it’s the whole, “you always want what you don’t have” theory that makes me detest the limp, straight, baby fine hair I’ve been cursed with.  I seriously lust after the thick curls that seem to dominate Pinterest these days a’ la’ Kate Middleton’s gorgeous locks, but I know I’ll never achieve that exact look – unless I bite the bullet and get hair extensions to increase my skimpy strands.

Thankfully, I view my hair as an accessory in the way that if I don’t like it, I can change it and with my creative personality that tends to happen A LOT!  Although I was born blonde and remained so through high school, I’ve sported strawberry blonde, brunette, auburn and now red manes.  And my hair stylist knows I have a routine of growing my hair out and then chopping it, only to grow it out once again – which luckily is a fairly quick process for me.

I’ve spent the last several months growing my hair from a bob to below my shoulders and now I’m getting tired of the extra styling it requires so the itch to chop it all has returned.  My husband is that one strange man who prefers women to have short hair, so he of course would vote for me to give in and chop several inches.

However, I know full well that short hair styles can sometimes require more styling time than long hair does, which can be a big hiccup on the rare mornings when I wake up late.  Short hair also usually means you’re stuck with the same look all the time.  Plus, when I see pictures of myself with shorter hair I think my face looks very round which I don’t care for on myself.

Picture 2I’ve really liked some of my mid-length cuts, especially when layered for volume like this one, but they tend to be just short enough to not work for multiple styles so I end up wearing it the same way all the time and when I do pull it up the shorter pieces fall out, making the rest of the do more likely to ‘migrate’ on my head due to a lack of volume holding it in place.

So which look do you think I should sport?  Short, medium, or long?  Here are examples of me with each.


Granted the long picture isn’t much longer than the medium, but it looks shorter then it was because of the curls.  It’s now quite a bit longer than this.  One option I’ve been toying with is keeping the length, but having long layers added in, like this.

My concern is that fine hair tends to get super frizzy when layered.  But Jennifer Aniston seems to make it work, so there’s hope right? Maybe all I really need is a live in hair stylist like that stars! 🙂

The Life We Live

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“I wrote this down and keep it near my desk to remind me every day. Thank you again for your encouraging words Jenna.”

During the past few weeks there have been a series of moments that remind me that I serve a bigger purpose than myself.  The first was when a friend posted a picture of a sticky note with a comment I’d left on her Facebook page the other day after she mentioned she was feeling insignificant.  The comment was the first thought I’d had when I read her status.  It wasn’t some profound, thought of the century.  But it obviously resonated with her.  Perhaps I was just the delivery channel for the message God wanted her to have that day.

That was soon followed by a call at work from a customer who just wanted to say thanks for supporting a local Farmer’s Market and that she enjoyed seeing our company in that setting.  As the event coordinator for this company I wouldn’t say that the market is a high priority.  And it’s probably one of the simplest events we do all  year.  Regardless it made an impact significant enough for this customer to reach out just to say thanks for being a part of it, which makes it important in an entirely different way.

Then I got a freelance inquiry from a couple who want me to photograph their elopement at Denali!  Seriously?!  Who in their right mind would turn that opportunity down? What I didn’t know when I first responded to the email was that they are flying in from Philadelphia for a weekend just for that purpose!  They’d seen my ad on Craigslist and liked my style, so they contacted me.  It was just the reinforcement I needed that the tiny voice in my head saying I’d finally found ‘my’ style was right.  It also confirmed that although I have a different editing technique than many photographers do these days, there are people out there who want their memories to have the look I create.


Tonight, as I scrolled through Facebook I spotted this and it clicked.  This sums up my recent experiences.  I often feel that I’m not living up to my full potential, that I haven’t found that thing that will lead me to change the world.  This made me consider the idea that I don’t HAVE to complete some news worthy accomplishment to change the world.  Instead I can change the world in little ways.  Ways that matter individually, just when people need it. Granted I may never know that I’ve done so; but just when I need the reassurance that I’m making a difference I’m sure God will give me another spree of ‘signs’ to remind me.  This life we live – may it be the reason someone smiles today!

Broken Ground

At last we have broken ground on our new home!!  That’s what’s kept me so busy and unable to post regularly last week.  It sure is a lot of fun picking out all the details, but it takes a lot of time, especially when you’re working within a budget. 🙂

So here’s a little look at the progress thus far.  This is the view heading toward our property.  This is where the pavement ends.  We are still two more bends in the road away.  Notice all the fireweed lining the road?  Some of that is gonna end up in my garden!


And here’s the driveway from in front of the house.  Yes that is a slight bit of a mountain view through the trees!  Something I hadn’t expected, but absolutely love!


Here’s the foundation thus far from the front corner of the garage.


And from the side.  With the well going in just beyond.


This is the yard on the side of the garage.  The septic system will go here, so some of this will be filled in before construction is finished.  The rest will be filled in at some point later by us to make it more usable.  I’m thinking some of this area, possibly closer to the driveway, may end up being used for my rain garden due to the natural slope.


A little more mountain view from the back corner!
I’m thinking I’m going to need a bench out front to enjoy that!


This will be the view out the back of the house for now.
We will clear a bit more to create a yard for the dogs next summer.


Here is the view from the area near the well.  I love that you can just barely see the edge of the neighbor’s driveway, but not the neighbors themselves!  And that means they can’t see us either! Just how we planned it!


The view from the front of the house.  The pink flags on the trees are the property line.  But the lot next door is the same size as ours so it’s likely that when it sells and is built on the owners will build farther forward so we won’t really see them either.


And the best view of all.. our well hitting water at 135′!  Read more about that on my photography blog.

10Stay tuned.  There will be more pictures as things progress!

Bring On the Rain

Where has the week gone?!  It’s somehow Thursday and I have yet to do a post this week, but I guess I have good reason.  We were dealing with construction allowances for the house on Monday, drove to Whittier to drop off a trailer for a friend on Tuesday and had friends in town Wednesday so there just hasn’t been a spare moment to blog until now.

During my allowance budgeting I did do some research on a couple of things we’re looking at tackling right away when we move in.  I’d like to get some planting done, if we get in before the first frost, so that I have things started for next season.  I toyed with the idea of going to the nursery plant sales to snag up all the 40-50% off perennials and shrubs I plan to use, but I’ve held off just because I don’t want to be stuck with a bevy of potted greenery that I can’t plant because the ground is frozen and needs somewhere protected to winter over.  So instead I decided to research things I can prep for spring.  One of those things was rain chains from our eaves to a barrel which will collect run-off water.  I plan to snap up the supplies during the off season for less and prep them so everything is ready to be put in action as soon as weather allows.

While researching ideas for that project I discovered that our community has a Rain Garden program.  I had never heard of a rain garden, but it sounded interesting.  Described as a vegetated areas, built specifically to manage storm water runoff from driveways, sidewalks, roofs and other paved surfaces, it provides runoff an area to spread for removal of sediment and pollutants while also preventing flooding and erosion.

What a perfect complement to the rain chain and barrels I was already planning to use.  Plus the natural ravine we have on our property provides an excellent footprint for this type of garden.  If we can get it installed before winter takes hold it should be a big help in controlling spring’s thawing run-off.

What’s even better is that the local program encourages the use of rain gardens by paying home owners to install them!  They will reimburse up to $500 of the cost you incur to install your garden, green roof or porous pavement.  How awesome is that?  Check out these gardens that have been created around the community through this program.

The hard part will be deciding what vegetation to include in my rain garden.  Although I’m pretty sure the first round of plants will be those that are currently living in containers around my home now – iris, hydrangea, strawberries, lavender, marigolds, and daisies along with bulbs that I have not yet planted because I’m out of room. I’m sure not all of them will survive the transplant and impending winter, but those that don’t will create pockets of space to try new things come spring! And then I’ll be singing Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring on the rain” to watch our handy work in action!

Simple, Rustic Monograms

6I recently created these monogram wall hangings as inventory for a local craft show using materials I had on hand.  A cork square, a little burlap, some cord, my Silhouette machine and a sharpie is all I needed.  First I covered the 6” cork square with burlap, wrapping it around the edges and securing it on the back with hot glue.

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Next I designed a variety of popular initials and cut them out on either paper or wax paper.  This was the first time I’d used wax paper to make a stencil and found that it tended to curl once removed from the cutting mat, so the regular paper seemed to work a little better, although I had to be careful not to tear it.

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5I pinned the stencil to the board and traced an outline of the letter with my sharpie.  From there I just colored inside the lines to fill in the remainder of the letter.

Then I attached a bit of fabric cord in a loop at the top of the board on the back with some more hot glue to make a simple hanger.  I think they turned out pretty darn cute and priced them at just $5 due to their simple construction.  I still have several available in my Etsy shop and still have materials to make more if you need a letter I haven’t created yet.

I also made these fabric bulletin boards using the same method, sans the stenciling portion.  It makes them just a little prettier than the basic cork tile on the wall.


I just love quick, easy craft projects, don’t you?!