An Update Underfoot


When our old dining room wool rug develed a hole, I began the hunt for a replacement.  I eventually decided to go neutral with a jute fiber rug and found this one at Target.  Although they didn’t sell it at any of our local stores in the right size, I was able to order it online with free shipping and it was delivered right to our door!RugDiningTexture

I’m loving the texture of the new rug and it’s super soft underfoot.  There are little hints of color in the cross fibers, which tie in well with the other colors in our decor.RugDiningSnag

Like any jute rug, it does develop loose ends from time to time, but I just tuck them back into the weave of the fibers.  If that’s not possible, I just trim them down a bit so they aren’t noticeable.

I also found a matching runner for the laundry room, something I’ve been hunting for – for a very long time!  Luna wasn’t very impressed, since it didn’t involve more food in her dish.


I also replaced the rug in the Family room with an indoor/outdoor rug I found at Lowes for $70.  Because it has a tighter weave than the rug we had here before, it doesn’t seem to collect as much dirt, which is an improvement for my allergies.  RugFamilyRoomTApparently Tequila approves of this change because she often chooses this spot to nap during the day!  So I guess that means it’s a keeper. 🙂


The Gravel Patio


Once the fire pit went in the next step was installing a gravel patio around it.  The hubs added small side-walls on our big flatbed trailer to pick up a load of pea gravel, which only cost around $80 since we didn’t need delivery.  It took him most of the day to dump and spread it, but it was totally worth the effort.

GravelCombined with the new garden, our Adirondack chairs and one of my pretty little garden stools it’s starting to look like the backyard I’ve been envisioning all along!

Our DIY Fire Pit


One of the projects I really wanted to tackle this summer was a fire pit. Luckily, the hubs was totally on board.  We started with the freebie washing machine tub I scored last year, which we set on two cinder blocks to keep the heat off the ground.


We stacked landscape stones around the tub, off setting the seams.  But after the second row we ran into a little problem, the ridge at the back of each stone required the next row to be a smidg bigger.  After a quick Pinterest search we learned that others using the same stones removed the ridge when building their fire pit, so we chose to do the same.

The hubs attacked them with his fancy power tools, but it wasn’t working as well as we hoped.  I suggested going old-school and use a hammer.FirePitGrind

This time old-school worked better, so we stuck with it row by tedious and muscle building row.  Eventually we upgraded to a larger hammer which was a bit more efficient, although still time consuming.FirePitHammerFirePitHalf

Apparently all the noise we were making didn’t bother the dogs who napped on the deck nearby.  It truly is a rough life they live…
FirePitNapA puppy nap and several more rows of stones and we were almost done.  That’s when we ran out of stones.  Go figure.

FirePit90The hubs picked up some more stones the next day so we could finish off the top row, where we left the little ridge in case it’s helpful for a future table top I want to build to cover the pit when it’s not in use.

FirePitFinishedTopIt’s taller than most fire pits but it feels more impressive and should be safer for when we have little ones around.  The top row sits just above the top edge of the metal tub so the fire stays contained and the smoke rises a bit, keeping it out of our eyes when sitting around it.  We’re pretty pleased with how it turned out.

FirePitFinishedWe only got to test it out once before Alaska’s burn ban took effect.  Hopefully, the conditions will improve soon and we can enjoy it again before the summer is over because next time I’m planning to create some backyard s’mores!


A Little Update Out Front


Now that summer is here it was time to get the front porch and flower beds in order.  I started with the porch, which just needed a little cleanup and a few accessories.  A citronella candle and a cute little cast iron frog I’ve had for years were a great fit for the milkcan table by the rocker.


As one of very few shady spots in the yard, the porch was the perfect place for some inpatients.  I used an old ceramic crock that fit in the small spot next to the front door.


Since the crock didn’t have any drainage I placed a small disposable pot inside before adding soil.


I did something similar in the large whiskey barrel planters just off the porch.  The hubs drilled a couple drainage holes in both, but I wanted to reduce how much soil it would take to to fill them so I filled the bottoms with plastic containers from our recycle bin.


You’d never know all of that is in there looking at them all planted.

FrontWhiskeyBarrelFinished And they do a great job of attracting butterflies!

FrontButterflyI filled two metal buckets on the steps with dusty miller and lobelia for a little contrast.

FrontBucketI did the same combination for planters in front of the garage, which were used on the porch last season.

FrontSmallPotFinishedI searched for several weeks to find a third green planter to match the ones we already had but could only find a larger version which I placed between the two garage doors.


Since it was so large I placed an empty bucket in the bottom to conserve soil once again.


I also added some pieces of sponge in the top layer of soil to help the plants retain moisture between waterings.

FrontBigPotSpongesI just tucked them down in the soil as I planted.


The perennials in the front beds were the slowest to return this year and I’m convinced that the landscape fabric we used was the reason, so I tore it all out.  While doing so, I found a couple of plants  that did get trapped under the fabric as they started to grow so hopefully now that they’ve been freed they will come in properly.

FrontFlowerbedSmallAnd to finish it all off I added a few patriotic pieces like this garden flag and fun door hanging.


There’s still a bit I’d like to do out here, but for now it’s ready for summer!

The Finished Egg Table


Remember the custom Green Egg table I had built for the hubs for Christmas?  Well it’s finally sealed and in use!  Hubby decided not to stain it and just do a couple coats of Thompsons water seal.  I think it turned out great. Here it is with the egg inserted.


The cabinet and drawer provide great storage.  The drawer holds a wholes bag of charcoal with room to spare, which apparently Luna thinks is for her.

The cabinet has enough room to hold a stool, propane bottle and the oil-less fryer I snagged for him at a charity auction.


We may still add some hooks on the side to hang the tongs and other utensils but for now it’s ready to grill all summer!EggDONE

TDC Before and After

Quick DIY Wall Art


Today I want to share a quick DIY sign I recently created.  I’ve had this Uppercase Living vinyl for some time now, as in more than 3 years because it was purchased for the house we planned to rent in FL when we thought we were being transferred there.  Anyway, I loved the phrase so I kept it with the intention of using it at some point.  Unfortunately, I’d ordered it in “oat” which was just a shade lighter than our current wall color so I knew it wouldn’t show well if I applied it directly to the wall.  I’d considered using a scrap board as a background like I did for the Laundry Room sign, but just hadn’t gotten around to it.  Then I spotted this pallet board at Michaels and inspiration struck, especially since I had a coupon for 40% off!

SignStartThe construction was pretty basic, several boards secured on the back with cross pieces and a twine hanger at the top.  There were several color options – unfinished, white washed and this stained color, which I was immediately drawn to and knew would contrast nicely with the color of the vinyl.  With my coupon it cost me around $10.


I was pretty sure it was just the right size for the vinyl, so when I got it home I tested it out and it fit perfectly!

SignTestI followed the instructions that came with the vinyl and applied it to the board.  I could have called it done then, but I wanted to give it a bit more character so I decided to rough it up a bit with the sander.


Although I did a very light pass on the entire piece there were a few spots that got a little too roughed up due to how they sat on the joints of the wood.


I was slightly distraught about it, but decided to try to find a solution rather than give up on the project.


I started small with the leaf that that was damaged to build my confidence.  I used an exacto blade to trim small pieces of damaged vinyl away, reshaping the leaf as needed to work around the missing pieces.  I think it worked pretty well.



I did the same on the lettering with decent results.  It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the rough edges I started with.


I took a step back to get some perspective and realized that neither spot was very noticeable from a distance.  Luckily, our guests don’t typically inspect my décor up close, so it passes muster.  I love that the sanding gives it a rustic feel, which also plays into being a little imperfect.


And here it is in our bedroom above the TV.  At that height no one will notice my little ‘patched’ areas and it also disguises my other little goof on this project.  I’m not saying what that goof was because I want to see if anyone else notices it or if I’m just being too much of a perfectionist!  If you think you know what it is, leave a comment below! 🙂


TDC Before and After

A Garden Update

I’ve been planning to share a little update on my Gifted Garden and Rain Garden for a week or so now, but by the time I edited the photos I took to share things had changed some more.  So before that can happen again, let’s get to it.  First up is the Rain Garden, which looked pretty dismal for weeks even when the warmer temps arrived.  Then one day I was driving up the driveway and noticed a good amount of green had suddenly appeared.  Upon closer inspection I saw that 90% of what I’d planted last season is coming back in, which makes me pretty darn happy.  And now that the cat mint has returned Luna is quite happy as well!


I mean like seriously happy.  As in she won’t leave the poor plant alone!  She’s in love with the darn thing!


Even a robin on the branch above the garden can’t tear her attention away for more than a glance through the leaves!



But I digress…. Elsewhere in the garden, the iris that I rid my friend’s lawn of are growing tall and strong.  I haven’t seen any buds yet, but they didn’t have any last year either since they spent most of the season sitting in clumps in a pot waiting for a permanent home.  I’m excited to find out what color they will be.  I’m betting it’s purple like the wild iris around Alaska, but I’d be happy with any color if they just bloom.


Three of the freebie Craigslist lilacs are showing small signs of life with some new leaves, although two are still just bare twigs.  I’ll let them be until the end of the summer before I give up on them.  They have a mystery neighbor that popped up.  I’m thinking it’s yellow yarrow, since the leaves look very similar to the other yellow yarrow I have a few feet away, but we’ll see what it grows up to be when the small yellow bud at it’s top develops.



Another mystery arrival is this grouping of spouts.  It’s in the area where I had mint last year and the leaves look about right for that, so I’m guessing that’s what it is.  For now I’m going to leave it alone and see what we get.


The clematis on either side of the garden are showing momentum after looking dead for months and are even touting a few blooms.  One is certainly bigger than the other, but hopefully they will both take over the tires and provide a lovely natural background for the garden over the next few years.



One of the vincas from the box store came back and is even flowering already.  The other didn’t fair so well.  At first I thought the green was new growth, but it’s been the same for a while now so I’m classifying it as a gonner.  I haven’t decided what to replace it with yet, so for now it can hold the space.



The water iris are slower growing than the other iris, but hopefully they’ll provide some pretty yellow blooms this season.


The speedwell in the back of the garden has some dense growth, so I’m thinking it won’t spread much this season.  The Aluetian speedwell I put around the front of the garden has some pretty delicate purple flowers, but is a slow grower. I planned for it to be a ground cover on the hillside leading to the garden but if it doesn’t pick up the pace by mid season I’ll be looking for something else for next season.



The ornamental onion, yellow lily and campanula are all showing good starts.  I’m thinking they will hit their stride when the warm weather returns next week and start to really fill out.




The columbine has a good amount of growth but no signs of flowers yet.  I don’t remember if this one is yellow or purple, but either would be nice.


In front of the columbine is a forget-me-knot, that I ironically forgot about.  I think this one came from some seeds I got at one of the holiday weekend giveaways at the box store and let sprout in the little cup they came home in before planting just to give it a shot.  Maybe it will continue to surprise me and spread a bit to come back next season even more.


The thing I’m most excited about in this garden is the lady slipper orchid that I acquired on our trip up the Alcan last year.  It seemed to go dormant soon after I got it home, although it had been on the road for several days at that point so I thought it wouldn’t come back.  I’m so glad it proved me wrong and surprised me!


I remember planting things on the hillside above the rain garden, but for the life of me can’t remember what they were.  Some were bought and others were freebies, but I wrote them all off when the builder’s contractor came to do our final grade and bulldozed them even AFTER we’d told him not to go in this area… sigh.  But they’ve poked back up without any water or feed from me so I’m thinking they are my kind of plant. Feel free to leave ideas in the comments below if you think you know what they are! 🙂



Ok Luna, are you ready to leave your cat mint and head over to the other garden?  I’ll take that as a no.  Well, you know where to find me….


Over in the gifted garden there are small signs of life.  In the corner near the back door I replaced something that didn’t come back with a hydrangea and finished off the far corner that never got any plants last year with a lilac.  Both are from local nurseries so I’m pretty confident that they will establish and come back year after year.  This is the first hydrangea I’ve ever had so I’m excited to watch it grow, especially after seeing 5 buds on it the other day!  The lilac had a bud on it when I bought it – hence the reason I picked this one over the others – so we should get some color out of it this year.GardenView




When I went to plant the lilac I found something strange just under the surface.


You guessed it.  That’s one of the dogs’ balls!  Apparently someone decided to bury it here for safekeeping at some point!  Kids….jeesh!


Although some of what I was gifted didn’t return, what has is showing good  signs that it will stick around for the long haul.  GardenYellow




The wild geranium is doing the best out of all the returning gifted plants, and is covered in tiny buds!  Although it’s native cousins in the surrounding woods already have sporadic blooms, it looks like the special attention this one gets will result in multiple blooms!



Now if I can just keep the momma moose and her yearling calf who have been frequenting the easement near the back yard away from my unfenced sprouts I stand a chance of having a pretty yard this summer!  For something so big they sure do blend in well!  Luckily, the dogs tend to keep them at a distance, but that’s only so efficient for things outside the fence.  Wish me luck!



Goin’ Pickin’

PickinLast weekend I attended a special sale of antiques and vintage finds brought back by the Alaska Picker on their recent trip to the lower 48.  They previewed most of what would be available on their Facebook event page in the weeks prior to the sale to get everyone excited.  For overly organized peeps like me it was the perfect way to develop a game plan.  There were a couple of items I was interested in, but my main goal was to snag one of the Dr. Pepper wood crates they’d found in a large batch of various soft drink crates.  There were only three available so when I arrived on site before the sale started I staked a claim to a spot where I could bee-line for one.

When the air raid siren sounded to mark the beginning of the sale I jumped into action and was the first to grab one.  A woman behind me quickly claimed the other one visible in the stack next to the one I’d pulled mine from.  I never did see the third one.

Once I had my treasure clenched in my hands, I browsed around a bit and spotted this fun folding chair for just $22.  I wasn’t sure where I’d use it in the house, but knew it would be a fun prop for my photography sessions so I added that to my haul.

Before I made my way inside to pay I also spotted some funky little metal drawers.  I thought they’d look great in the office holding the hub’s odds and ends.  And at $6/each they didn’t break the budget, so they came home too.

In the end I only spent $85 – not bad with all that was available!  I did pace myself a bit since I will be attending the massive Funky Junk Sister’s Junk Salvation Vintage Market in Puyallup, WA later this month when we visit family nearby.  And I know I’ll be making a large purchase at the Alaska Picker’s sale this fall, when they bring back an old windmill they found on this trip as a special request from me, but didn’t have room for!  I plan to hang it as art on a large bare wall in the guest room, just like I’ve seen done on my favorite HGTV show, Fixer Upper!  You can be sure I’ll share both my haul from the Junk Salvation Market and the windmill wall art once they happen! 🙂

Fun in the Sun


Now that summer has arrived we’ve been out riding in our side-by-side just about every weekend. Our favorite spot to ride is the Knik Public Use Area which is part of a massive glacier fed river delta. Because the river is constantly changing its course across the large open space, it’s a different experience every time we visit. It’s not uncommon for the beach we stopped at last time to have become a sandbar in what is now the middle of the river, or for a route we’ve previously used to be cut off by a newly formed stream, but that’s what makes it such an interesting place to ride.


There are a variety of terrains, including wooded trails, bluffs, meadows and sandy areas. My favorites are the black sand beaches along the river’s edge with fantastic views of the mountains.






That’s where we usually stop to let the kiddos play. They weren’t too sure about getting in the water at first, which I can understand because the water is not only cold, it’s very silty making it difficult to judge just how deep it really is.



I enjoy wandering the shoreline looking for driftwood to collect for various projects I want to do while the dogs race back and forth on the sand like greyhounds.




And if it’s warm enough, I ditch my shoes for a black sand exfoliation.  I call it the Alaskan pedicure.


Eventually the dogs find a shallow spot where they pretend to walk on water until we find a stick to throw for them.







Tequila prefers bigger sticks which she retrieves from the water and digs at until they are hidden by the crater she’s created in the sand. Then she bounces and barks to show the giant stick who’s boss.  When her siblings try to assist her, she quickly tells them she doesn’t need help.





So instead, they come snuggle with mom and dad until they are ready to run some more.


In between all this activity they sometimes agree to pose for pictures….





And sometimes they don’t….


Then when they are ready to ride again they load up in the side-by-side, as if to say “hey, let’s go!”


Although sometimes they try to sneak in and ride shotgun, which never works. 🙂


And once we’re on the trail, I watch them play lookout for the next spot to stop and explore.


One trip, we spotted some fan boats going up the river.  The dogs weren’t sure what to make of them, or the waves they created on the river bank.




We’ve also spotted small planes in the area, since there is an airstrip nearby and the Palmer municipal airport isn’t far.



And sometimes we find signs of Alaska’s wildlife, usually in the form of tracks or droppings, but occasionally you’ll come across a more glaring example of the life cycle.


Back at the truck after riding, the dogs watch from the tailgate while daddy loads up their favorite toy until the next time we go riding.  Can you say spoiled? 🙂