Rustic Windmill Becomes Art – The Plan

So it should come as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of the show Fixer Upper, and if you’ve watched it at all you know Joanna Gaines’ penchant for using windmills as wall art. I loved the look and decided to make the same happen in our home. Luckily, we have a fantastic local antique store who does picking trips across Canada and the lower 48. So when they asked if anyone was looking for something in particular I made sure my request got on the list. It must have been fate because they found one in Wisconsin! Unfortunately they didn’t have room to bring it back that trip, but they were able to store it at a partner’s warehouse until the next trip when they cut it in half and wedged it into the trailer with all their other found treasures.


Usually they have a big one day sale a few days after they return from each trip where the items they pick are available, but since it was a special pick just for me,  I got to come pick it up as they were unloading.  It’s definitely a large scale piece, measuring about 8′ wide and 4′ tall!  The picture above is a shot of it on our big flatbed trailer in the yard.  It’s so large that I had to take the photo vertically and rotate it because I couldn’t get high enough to fit the whole thing in the frame!  Although they brought back the better half for me, it is missing half of two of the blades, but because they are in the center it doesn’t bother me much.  And how can you not love the amazing patina this thing has?!


The plan is to mount this massive piece of rustic art on the dining room wall, which I’ve cleared in preparation.  The small yellow stickie notes are an approximate of the size for reference.  I’d like to have a white plank wall (another Fixer Upper inspiration) behind it so that has to happen first because I have no intention of making the hubs help me move and mount this mother more than once. He loves me, but I’m not sure he loves me enough for that! 😉  I’m hopeful that we’ll get that done before December so I can clip all the holiday cards we receive to it, but life might get in the way of that, so we’ll see.


For now I’ll just envision it there above the buffet, which includes a sneak peek of my fall decorating that I’ll be sharing soon – including a few DIY revamps!  I’ll be sure to share both the plank wall install and final look with the windmill in place, so stay tuned!


The Royal Carriage


Recently I was editing client photos in the office and heard the sound Luna makes as she’s falling asleep nearby, but she was no where to be found.  I looked around and soon discovered she had curled up in the antique baby carriage I’d recently brought home as a newborn prop and put in the corner of the studio.  Not only was she a perfect fit for the little stroller, but she seemed so comfy she didn’t even open her eyes when I moved a box sitting next to the carriage.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to pull the carriage out a bit and quickly put up a backdrop to capture a few shots.


I might not have newborn shots of all my fur babies, but this ranks right up there with that!  Her siblings were fairly concerned that their kitty was snoozing in this contraption and each took turns checking on her.



Eventually Tequila laid down to keep watch while her kitty cat slept – or perhaps wonder why we don’t have a stroller she could fit in! 🙂


Eventually, the Princess arose from her beauty sleep and posed for the paparazzi (aka – mom).  Seriously, could she look any more regal sitting in a stroller, lace draped out the side with a glittery gold backdrop?!


And this isn’t the first time she’s shown her approval of my prop and décor finds.  She also declared this antique wooden box suitable for her royal hinny!

I’m so glad she approves. Her parked rump is much more appreciated than the dog’s use of my couch throw pillows as dirty paw rests! But such is life with pets. And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Ballard Knock-Off Laundry Room Decor’ve slowly been re-decorating the laundry room to have more of a rustic/industrial/farm house feel to coordinate with the decor around rest of the house.  I loved these over-sized vintage looking safety pins from Ballard Designs, but I wasn’t liking the price and was pretty sure shipping to Alaska would only make me like it less.  So when I saw some similar pieces on the local buy sell page for $10 each I decided to DIY myself a set.  Here’s what they looked like seconds before their makeover began.

PinsBeforeAnd here’s what they look like now!  I put them on the wall where I’d recently had the metal organizer we got on our recent trip down south.  We hadn’t been using it at all so it didn’t make sense to keep it there.  I’ve stashed it away for now since I really liked it and might find another spot for it later on.

2I like how the black plays off the other elements in the room, but am considering adding a bit of rusty color or grey with some distressing to create more depth, but haven’t decided yet.  When we get the countertop installed on the cabinet the black in the stone should play off the color well, so I’ll probably hold off until then to make a final decision.  What do you think?  Leave them as is, or add a bit of texture with a second color?

Shared on Tatertots & Jello’s Link Party Palooza.

A Whale of an Update


Although it’s quiet here on the blog, we’ve been slowly completing little projects in-between work, a rush of photography clients and daily life.  One of those projects was creating a collage of a whale breach sequence I shot several years ago while my family was visiting Alaska.  I recently had a client request a framed print showing the sequence of the breach and I liked it so much I decided I needed one for our home.  I found the frame at Michaels and ordered it online for a better price, but it arrived very damaged due to poor packing so I had to wait a few days until I could do an exchange at the local store.


Once it was all complete I hung it in the guest room so visitors can enjoy it while staying at our home.  It fit perfectly on the small wall next to the closet, complimenting the fox fur my hubby got long before I came around.  Another item that’s new in this room is the large crock you see in the corner there.  We picked that up as a set of three at an estate sale this summer.  This was the largest of the three.


I’ve ‘interviewed’ it in a few spots around the house since buying it but I think I like it here best.  I plan to fill it a large fern – probably a faux version because I’ll never remember to water it in this room!  I still need to figure out a night stand for this side of the bed.  I have a project table in the garage I had planned to use here, but I think it might need more repair than revamp so I’m watching the buy/sell pages for an already finished option instead.


Now that we’re starting to get the spare room set up as a foster-child room, I moved Roomba’s dock into the guest room.  He fits perfectly beneath the sewing table nightstand, yet still has room to leave and return to the dock for charging on his own.  Although he’s very visible from this angle you can’t see him from the door, which keeps things looking clean and simple.  You can tell Luna is sooo impressed with my mad skills right? 🙂


There are changes coming to the dining room as well, so the lamps that used to live on the buffet needed a new home and I think they look great in here.  I added a little wooden tray I picked up for a few dollars while thrifting earlier this year so guests can keep track of the little items that often get lost when traveling.  I love how it plays off the colors in the lamp and contrasts with the cherry top of the table.

The room is definitely still a work in progress, but it’s starting to look a bit finished now.  I’ve got a few other small projects lined up to share soon, so stay tuned!

A Weed by Any Other Name


Although weeds are usually something you don’t want in your garden, sometimes waiting to see how they turn out is worth the risk.  Case in point is this lovely Jewel Weed (aka Touch Me Not) I found blooming in my gifted garden.  I’m not sure where it came from, but I love the delicate yellow flowers that bloomed late this summer.  After a bit of online research, I’ve learned that it’s actually a very useful plant, being both edible and a natural remedy for skin irritations because it contains both an anti-inflammatory and fungicide.

I’ve decided to leave it alone and see what it does next year, which I hope is return bigger and fuller.  I’m certainly game for a 0 maintenance plant that not only fills my garden with lovely flowers but has a host of beneficial uses!


The other ‘weed’ in my garden this season were some pretty German Impatiens our neighbor gave us.  I didn’t know anything about them other than her instruction that they needed to be planted very soon. I had some empty holes in my front flowerbed at the time so that’s where I put them.

They started out as 4″ tall sprouts, but within a few weeks they were chest high without an ounce of effort on my part!  Once again I turned to the internet for information, where I learned they can be invasive – not surprising given their super-fast growth rate. They are also another variety of Jewelweed (Himalayan Balsam) so they have similar skin irritant remedy properties and are edible.


I knew they wouldn’t work in the space where I had planted them, so I moved them to the hillside near the rain garden where they have plenty of unused space they can fill. Now that we have these helpful plants I’m thinking there’s a good possibility that raspberry sangria, with basalm and fireweed garnish will be the signature drink on our deck next summer!  Do you have common weeds in your garden that you love?  Tell me about them with a comment below!

A Sweet Harvest


Although they haven’t been around long, the freebie raspberry plants we added to the yard earlier this summer have been cranking out a pretty bountiful and sweet harvest recently!  We noticed a large batch of berries form on several of the plants about a month ago and patiently waited for them to fully ripen.


The first harvest (seen below) was fairly small, but within a few days another batch was ready (seen above).  While a few were still a little tart, the majority were sweet and juicy – perfect for a yummy, easy to eat breakfast during my morning commute the next day.

Raspberries1During the holiday weekend I picked a third batch that was twice the size of the first two!  Those were also promptly eaten for breakfast on my morning drive to work yesterday.  And there’s still more berries waiting to ripen on the bushes.  Hopefully the cold weather stays away long enough for them all to come in fully so we can enjoy a 4th or maybe even 5th harvest.

What’s even more impressive is that all of these came from just a handful of bushes.  Most of the bushes are still establishing themselves and focusing on lush leaf growth rather than berry production, so next year we should have a plethora of berries when those start adding to the harvest.  Guess I better start saving raspberry everything recipes now!

The Cluck Club


Over the holiday weekend we added some new members to our family!  Welcome (from back to front) Biscuit, Nugget, Fil-a and Curry.  And they have some fancy new digs courtesy of the hubs handi-man skills!  Here’s a quick photo tutorial of how it went together.


He started with two side panels of framed wire, to form the main area which serves as a run for the chickens to move around in.  He added more framing for what would become the hen house floor at the rear of the coop.

2   3

Next he added sides to the hen house, followed by foam insulation.  He also extended the floor of the hen house past the framing to make an area for nesting boxes.

4After insulation was added to the floor, the nesting boxes starting to take shape at the back of the hen house.


Then he added dividers to make three separate boxes so the ladies have a bit of privacy when laying.


Next he added a roof to the nesting boxes that can be lifted for collecting eggs.

9This puppy is well insulated so the chickens will stay nice and warm when the weather dips below 0 during the winter.  With insulation foam sandwiched between layers of wood on all of the walls and floor it should be pretty cozy.


And if you’re wondering if it’s sturdy, Stoli and his 70 some pounds of muscle can guarantee that it is!


Once the main parts of the walls were in, he added the roof panels.


13And from the side it was really starting to look like a coop!  If you notice, we moved the coop forward a bit so there’s more room at the back because the clean out access for our septic line is right next to the house and should we ever need to use it we wanted some room to work.


At my request, he added a covering of linoleum material on the entire hen house floor to make cleaning the coop out easier.

8And here’s the finished project – after several weeks of work!  Unfortunately, it rained here for most of the holiday weekend so I wasn’t able to paint it before we brought the chickens home, but once the weather improves for a few days all of the wood will get a coat of bright white, which should give it a true farm house feel!


The nesting box roof got a metal covering to match the rest of the coop and keep the elements at bay.


You can see most of the inside of the hen house when the small roof is lifted – a feature I’m sure I’ll appreciate immensely when checking on them during the winter.

NestBoxViewIn addition to the nesting boxes, the hubs installed an inside roost for the hens to use when the weather gets colder.

FinishedNestBoxesThe two side doors open wide to give full access to the inside of the hen house which has a light to provide both warmth and stimulation to continue laying throughout our dark winter.

FinishedHenHouseHe also installed a feeder made of PVC pipe and a water bottle with a nipple at the bottom so both stay as clean as possible with minimal waste.

FeederNWaterI’d never used poultry water nipples before, but they operate on the same mechanics as a rabbit water bottle and the chickens had some at their previous home so they already know how to use them.

FinishedWaterA ramp to access the hen house from the run and a large branch for an outdoor roost made it chicken ready.

RunEveryone was very excited to meet the chickens.  Even Luna came out to welcome them, although she stayed out of the dogs way by perching herself on the nearby ladder.  To give the chickens some breathing room from their four-legged siblings we fenced off the main part of the coop with some large metal grates we got for free on Craigslist a while back.  We’ll leave these up for a while until everyone is used to each other.  Until then they are under almost constant surveillance, but they don’t seem to mind too much.

ChickenWatchers   ChicksWatchFinalEventually I’ll add pea gravel around the coop so it doesn’t get super muddy, but for now we’re just happy to have the coop mostly finished (sans painting) and chickens inside it.

ChicksAlthough they aren’t free range like they were at their last home, I have been giving them yard cuttings and table scraps to dig through which they seem to enjoy.  And we all enjoy watching them settle into their new home. 🙂

Fun at the Fair


Fall is harvest season and that means it’s the typical time for county and state fairs.  The hubs and I won tickets to a country concert at the fair which included fair admission so we made a night of it.  I’d never seen this FAIR photo spot before but it was pretty cool.  The hubs didn’t want to play the I but agreed to get a shot of me doing so.  I have no idea why my jeans look like high waters, so just ignore that part!

FairBarnThe weather was absolutely perfect with blue skies and there was plenty else to see beyond the FAIR sign, from old historic barns to the traditional ferris wheel at the carnival.

FairFerrisWe sampled the classic hand dipped ice cream, toured the art exhibits, wandered along the rows of vendors where we purchased specialty jams and syrups for ourselves and as gifts for friends and family.  Then decided to head to the livestock barn, because as former 4-H and FFA members that’s what the fair is really about for us.  On the way to the barn I spotted this awesome garden figures made completely of living plants.  It was the best kind of art!



FairGardenFigure2At the livestock barn we watched baby chicks hatch in an incubator, including this cute little fluff ball.

FairChickHatchAnd as a previous goat owner you know I stopped to say hello to this sweet face!  Those ears just made me want to open the gate and take her home!

FairGoatAnd just down the row these two kids were enjoying their dinner, in more ways than one.  Seriously, does it get any cuter?  Yes, but only if those were Nubian kids with big floppy ears.  Can you tell I’m a bit biased?

FairGoatBabiesI have to share this competitor’s stall because they went all out to decorate.  From a hand-made wooden sign and fabric bunting to a collage of all their livestock next to a thank you to their buyers from the previous year it was absolute perfection!

FairGoatStallAcross the aisle were the pigs, who were apparently catching up on their beauty sleep.  But they were pretty darn cute doing it.

FairPigsWe wandered past the sheep, which I will never own again!, to the cows and then on to this single reindeer.  At first I thought it odd to see a reindeer in the market barn, but it is Alaska and I’m well aware of just how tasty Rudolph can be so it makes sense after all!

FairReindeerBeyond the barn there was some local produce for sale at phenomenal prices considering most were extra large.  The Mat-Su valley is well known for growing monster vegetables thanks to our unique summer climate.  We didn’t go far enough to see the competitors for the largest pumpkins and other categories but they often take up an entire flatbed semi to be transported to the fair!

FairProduceWe never did make it to the concert, but since it was at an open-air amphitheater we still heard most of it. Ready for a break we got some raspberry topped funnel cake – my fair food must have and rested our feet at a picnic table next to the face painting and crazy hair booth which produced a pretty entertaining batch of both their trades.  Although we had dessert first with the ice cream and funnel cake we wanted something that qualified for dinner before we headed home so we stopped by a local meat processing company’s food stand and ordered Caribou Steak Sandwiches.  For those that don’t know caribou and reindeer are the same, except one is wild while the other is domesticated, so I was probably eating the cute reindeer above’s long lost wild cousin.  But he sure was mighty tasty! 🙂


We came, we saw, we walked, we tasted and we had fun.  It was a great fair experience!

Feeling Fallish is my favorite season.  I love seeing the colors change and the crisp feel in the air.  It makes me want to grab a cup of cocoa, light a fire, snuggle up in a cozy sweater and watch the leaves fall as I start to plan for the upcoming holidays.  But fall is also usually one of my busiest seasons so it’s pretty rare when that actually happens.  This time of year I’m prepping for the holiday bazaars, creating family portraits for client’s holiday cards and preparing our home for winter, which will be here before we know it.Fall4

I will admit that I did attempt to ignore the initial signs of fall.  Alaska’s amazing summers are hard to give up and those first few cooler days are not well accepted because we know it means our days of endless sunlight and amazing landscapes will soon be replaced with darkness and cold.  But once I accept it I always fall in love with this wonderful transition season.

Fall1Now that I’ve conceded that summer has passed, I’ve embraced fall and carved out a bit of time to get out and photograph it’s beauty with my photography Meetup group.  We went up into the foothills of the Chugach mountains where the colors are more pronounced due to cooler temperatures.

Fall2I love the vibrant colors seen in the plants, which are offering the last of their harvests and one last burst of beauty before the first frost arrives.


Fall6And our beautiful fireweed has now released it’s seed to blow in the wind and begins to display a variety of colors including green, red, orange and even purple on it’s leaves.  This was one of many I spotted along the trail recently.

Fall7In fact a colorful autumnal fireweed is one of my favorite shots to date.  It literally screams fall every time I see it.

FallI took Friday off to make the long holiday weekend even longer so I can wrap up a few outstanding projects around the house, like getting the deck prepped for cooler temps, cleaning up the garden, reclaiming the garage for parking and of course decorating for fall!  I’ll also be updating my Etsy shop inventory, revamping my photography marketing and testing out new designs for the holiday bazaar I’ll be selling at after Thanksgiving.  But I’m determined to squeeze in a little fall relaxing too.  In fact I already purchased all of the s’more making materials needed for our firepit’s fall debut, and I can’t wait!