Barn Doors for the Office/Studio/Craft Room

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I’m so excited to share this project with you guys now that it’s finally done!  It’s been a long time in the making, but I’m so so so happy with the end result and as it usually goes – the delays that occurred along the way made the end result better than the original idea.

From the moment we found our floor plan and decided the formal dining room would be my office/studio/craft room I knew I wanted barn doors instead of the french doors the builder offered.  But that wasn’t one of the priority projects when we first moved in so it had to wait.  In the meantime I pinned ideas and the Hubs and I drafted out a basic plan for the project so we could start gathering the supplies as we found good deals on them.

We originally purchased barn door hardware at Tractor Supply when we were in VA visiting my family over a year ago and shipped it back to ourselves in AK.  It was nickel, but we planned to paint it black to better fit our style.  Although we had the hardware, we still had other more pressing projects so they sat for several months.  Eventually the Hubs purchased a piece of metal box rail to create the track and then built the barn doors, which I stained.  We now had all the pieces we just needed to install them, so we dug up pictures of the house during the framing stage and quickly realized we didn’t have any of the header over this opening to determine where the studs were!  Thinking back I remembered that because we opted not to have the french doors, the builder didn’t frame in the opening at first.  We noticed this during one of our site visits and made sure he would add framing between the two walls so we’d have a spot to install the track.  Apparently the next time we came back that had been added and drywalled over already.  We could guesstimate where the studs were based on the screws in the drywall, but the Hubs wasn’t sure there was enough support for the heavy track and doors.  I was pretty bummed and started thinking I wouldn’t get the barn doors I’d been envisioning.

A few weeks later we saw a friend’s barn door project they had just installed and as the Hubs discussed the install with his fellow DIY-All-The-Crazy-Things-My-Wife-Thinks-Up husband, a new option was discovered.  Their track and hardware was less bulky and not as heavy, so it didn’t need as much support as the system we had.  They had purchased the kit on Amazon and really liked it so we were pretty confident we would feel the same way.

The Hubs drew up a new plan and determined we needed to build new doors that weren’t as heavy as the ones we’d already prepped.  It was a little disappointing, but I was excited to finally have the project back on track and feeling good that it was actually possible.  I posted the track and the hardware we already had on the buy/sell page and the Hubs ordered a similar kit on Amazon.  The kit arrived quickly, but life got crazy again and the project had to wait.  Over the Christmas holiday the Hubs got things rolling again starting with installing the track in the office.

tracktrack2He had to drill a few new holes for the support rods so we’d hit the studs but he made it work.  And then he built two new doors out of cedar planks using the same design as the original doors he’d built (which became backdrops for a recent show display and are now posted for sale).  Although they were pretty in their natural state, the cedar had an orange tone that clashed with the other wood tones in the space.  I’d been envisioning weathered, rustic doors like something Joanna Gaines would salvage and use.  So we decided to stain them and see how I liked that.

doorA coat of stain later, they were looking much more in line with the other elements in the room, but it was still too much wood for me so I decided to paint over the stain and then distress them so the bits of stain and wood would show through.  The Hubs picked up white paint at the store and I planned to paint over the next few days.  But then I saw the perfect color on a dresser one of my favorite bloggers was redoing for a remodel/flip house she’s working on and I knew that was what I needed.  Unfortunately, she was using Maison Blanche’s Printemps chalk paint and there are no retailers for that brand here in Alaska.

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So I did some research and found a similar color in Annie Sloan’s chalk paint line (which said favorite blogger also uses often) that was available locally.  It’s called Chateau Grey, but it’s really a greenish grey color.

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Now that I had my perfect paint color I set to work.  Since the weather has been in the negative temps and the doors were so large I set up shop in the garage with the doors propped up on various plastic totes.  The Hubs joined me in the garage to organize and clean up a bit from several recent projects.  We left the door to the house open so the kiddos could be with us as well, but they weren’t staying out of the way enough so the Hubs rigged up an impromptu baby gate for the doorway.  The ensuing pitiful faces were hysterical.  They whined and paced and made a few attempts to thwart this annoying obstacle.

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This was the easiest painting ever, because they recommend you brush in all directions for a rustic finish.  Which means paint like no one’s watching.. except those sad little faces behind the gate!  I cranked up the radio and boogied my way around the doors swishing my brush, and my bottom, to-and-fro.   The end result was two very pretty greenish gray doors.  Both the Hubs and I were really liking the color but my heart was set on that distressed look so he dug out the sander for me.

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As I got ready to sand I noticed this heart wrenching little face.  While her siblings had given up and wandered off to nap, she sat like this for hours, sighing every so often just to remind me that she wasn’t pleased with being detained.  Unfortunately for her, it was time to sand so we removed the gate and closed the door to keep the dust out of the house.

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A light sanding brought out so much texture!  Just look at how different the one un-sanded panel on the right looks from the rest of the door.  I had to hand sand in a few of the tighter spots but that went quickly as well.

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Because I was using a chalk paint the next step was wax to seal everything in and protect the finish from those slobbery children of ours.  Although this wasn’t the first time I’ve used chalk paint it was the first time I’ve used it on a project big enough that required sealing, so this was my first experience with wax.  I used Annie Sloan’s clear wax so it would work well with the paint.

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Using the “boogie while you brush in all directions method” it went on very quickly although it was a bit straining on my hands because you ‘push’ the wax into the grain.   A little pain was totally worth it because it really highlighted all of the texture the sanding had created.  Just look at the difference between the waxed half on the bottom right and the un-waxed section on the top left!  And up-close it had so much detail!

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To give you a better sense of how much the wax changed the look, here’s a shot of the difference.  The door on the right has been stained, painted, sanded and waxed while the door on the left has not yet been waxed.

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I got the front of both doors waxed and was going to wait a few hours to flip them over and wax the back side (yeah… just think on that for a moment…) but the Hubs made a great suggestion – why not hang them and I could wax the back while they were on the track.  He’s seriously brilliant sometimes – which is one of the reasons I keep him around. 🙂  So up they went.  The rollers on the hardware just sit on the top of the track and are very easy to install – it’s just a matter of lining them up and setting them on the track.

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I love how the black hardware looks with the green!  And it’s got an industrial rustic style that fits our home perfectly.

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Here’s a few more shots of the doors installed on the track and ready to glide back and forth.

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Seeing the green next to the white cabinets makes me so glad I didn’t paint them white.  It would have been too much and this color really makes them look reclaimed rather than new.

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I could have stood here and stared at them all day.  They look awesome open.

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And closed – although the fur babies weren’t fond of this option!  After we had them installed we noticed the door on the right sits at a bit of an angle from the other door creating a small space at the bottom of the seem between the doors.  The Hubs thinks he may have installed the hardware a little crooked which is causing this issue.  We’ll correct that at some point, but since the doors will be open 99% of the time that can wait a bit.

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Here’s how the doors look from the other side when closed.  It’s not as dramatic as the office side, but like I said – it will be very rare that these doors are closed.  I’m sure the fur babies are appreciative of that.

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In order to fill the whole opening we did have to make the doors a bit wider than the side walls, so they stick out just a bit.  It’s not really noticeable and it actually works well because it provides just enough room to add handles so the doors are easier to move from this side.  I haven’t picked out hardware for that yet, and since it’s not a priority I’ll take my time to find something I really love.

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There’s also a bit of extra room between the doors and the cabinets.  We built the desk when we were planning to use the original barn door hardware which would have hung away from the wall a bit further, so we left extra room for that.  Now that we chose a more flush mount system there’s more room.  I think it still works well and it’s just wide enough for me to sneak the broom in there when cleaning.  Plus on the craft cart side it leaves  plenty of room to reach back for my paper cutter without scraping your knuckles on the doors.

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I’m so happy to have this big project done and I smile every time I look at these beauties.  They really give the space a finished feel and add so much character.  In fact they were looking so good that my craft shelves were feeling a bit “womp, womp” next to them, so I’ve been changing things up over there to create a more cohesive look.  I will share that update soon. 🙂

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I’d love to hear what you think of the end result, so leave a comment below.  And if you have questions about anything I didn’t cover send those over too.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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The Greenhouse Plan

Although there’s still more than a foot of snow on the ground and temps have been on the negative side of the thermometer the past several days, I’m already planning what we’ll be doing in the greenhouse for its debut season.  Obviously these pictures aren’t recent, but they’ll help you visualize the plan as I go over it. 🙂

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On the right side we will install a hydroponic system similar to one our friends have used in the past with 5 gallon buckets on a wire shelf at chest height for cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and squash.  This will be the Hub’s first project of the season since I want to get things growing as early as possible due to our very short season.

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growthTwo photos courtesy of Anne-Tiques.  Hopefully, we have results as good as theirs!

Below the hydroponic system will be 4 tubs where I plan to have garlic, dill, onions and carrots.  Each of these tubs will be on a plant caddy so it can be wheeled out for tending when needed.

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There will also be 4 tubs on caddies on the opposite wall.  I will have two varieties of peppers – one on either end and the two tubs in the center will contain green beans and peas.  I plan to use the two bed frames from the wheel bed last season to act as trellises for the beans and peas.  I’ll also hang large PVC pipe with holes cut out for planting strawberries in either corner on this side.

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The gutters that held the strawberries on the fence last year will be attached to the side of the greenhouse for lettuce, spinach and chard or kale.

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Another wire shelf will be installed under the window on the back wall to serve as a potting station.  The large metal trash can will hold my potting soil and will sit underneath the wire shelf so it can catch dirt as it falls through.  It will also be on a plant dolly so it can also be moved easily when needed.  My pruning tools will be kept in a container of fine sand on this shelf as well to help keep them clean and sharp, as well as easily accessible.

I’d like to try a potato tower or crate planter on the back corner of the green house past the gutters.  It’s an out of the way spot, but I can water it from inside the yard and the dogs should keep any inquisitive moose away since it’s between the fence and the green house. The set-ups I’ve seen on Pinterest look fairly easy to set-up and maintain so I’m game to have ingredients for stews come fall!

I may add some flowers beds around the side and back of the greenhouse, but we’ll see how far I get with our edible crop this season.  I’m thinking either dahlias or peonies since both are great for bouquets and could be cut easily while I’m already out harvesting food items in the greenhouse.  Plus, being perennials, they would come back year after year.  Luckily the faux rock we got for the septic pipes inside the fence, worked perfectly out here to cover the leach field vent pipe so it’s not an eyesore next to my pretty green house!

And of course there will be plenty of pretty flower pots and garden décor out front of the greenhouse.  If you looked closely at the pictures from my last post you might have noticed two wooden chairs off to the side of the building site.  I have grand plans to make one into a planter using chicken wire to build a basket where the seat used to be and the other will be a stand for containers of flowers.

Of course moving all of our edible crops to the greenhouse leaves the Garden Box in the back yard available for other things.  I’m thinking it might become my cutting garden for bouquets.  It would be something pretty to look at out the family room window and would be convenient to use, but I’ll have to plan out which flowers are in each tub since the middle window opens out and we use it quite often during the nice summer weather.

Our herbs will soon have an spot inside the house where they can grow year-round for continued use, so I don’t need a spot for them in the greenhouse.  I’ll share that project once it’s installed and finished.  I plan to have parsley, oregano and basil.  I may do a few varieties of basil if I can find them available locally.  We’ve already got mint and chives out in the rain garden so that should give us a good variety to work with and we’ll have room to add other items as we learn what does well and will be used the most.

It’s an ambitious plan but I want to give it a good shot with our first season.  If you have suggestions on other crops we should consider or tips for any of the ones I mentioned I’d love to hear them.   I also want to hear thoughts on if it’s worth the effort to paint both the interior and exterior of the greenhouse white.  I think it would give it a nice clean farmhouse look, but I’m not sure improves functionality or practicality, so I may hold off and do that at the end of the season when we close up the greenhouse rather than before  when I need to focus on getting things started.  Tell me what you think with the poll below.  I look forward to hearing your suggestions and sharing the progress when spring arrives!

Our New Green House!

At the end of last summer, the Hubs was suddenly motivated to build a green house and although I had lots of ideas on what I wanted, I didn’t have a plan fully thought out for the project.  But I definitely wasn’t going to take advantage of this unexpected desire to build when it was in my favor and so the green house building began.

I did know where I wanted the green house – behind the raspberry bushes where it would get the most exposure and I could see it from the house and driveway.  Unfortunately this spot is slightly sloped so it’s not an ideal building site, but the Hubs worked that out by building a platform for the floor of the green house with a support for one side to cover the difference.

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He used a large pressure treated board for this support since it would sit on the ground.  The floor itself was made with pressure treated 4×4 joists topped with 3 sheets of plywood.  The lack of a permanent foundation allows us to move the green house should we determine there’s a better spot for it in the future, but provides adequate support for the current location.

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I wasn’t sure on the size so based on the spot the Hubs suggested 8′ x 12′ and that seemed reasonable to me, so I went with it.  He framed up the walls for either side and I helped hold them in place while he nailed on supports.

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Working from the plan in his head based on pictures I’d shown him of designs I liked, he framed out the front and back walls and started adding trusses to create the roof.  He also created a support frame for siding that would go half way up the sides of the all 4 walls.

3It really started to look like something when the siding went up on the lower walls.  He had to get creative with the front corner due to the slope of the ground, but he made it work.

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The siding will provide a great spot for me to attach the gutters I used for strawberries last year.  This season they will hold lettuce, spinach and chard or kale for salads and the strawberries will move inside the green house to give them a longer growing season.  You’ll notice the large water tank we added next to the shed last year is nearby for easy watering.  The front yard hose reaches the tank fairly easily so filling isn’t too difficult and the natural slope of the yard provides a gravity feed for watering the raspberries and filling watering cans for the green house.

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Next came the clear plastic siding and a window in the back that can vent heat if needed.  He used the contoured wood slats designed for these clear panels to support the pieces and provide spots to secure them to the frame.  I added some paver blocks we had on hand in front of the the doorway.  I may add a few more once I get things set up, but for now it creates a nice little stoop for the structure.

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One of his last steps was installing a storm door, which also has a window and screen that can be used to vent excess heat if needed.  He lucked out finding this door on a “returned” clearance rack for much less than it originally sold for. A brand new door for a fraction of the price – he’s learning my bargainista ways quite well!

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He finished off the open space on either side of the door and we purchased a piece of low cost linoleum to cover the plywood floor.   I chose the grey stone pattern for two reasons: A) I liked the look of it for a green house floor and B) the dark colors should absorb heat during the day and release it back out to the plants during our very short nights during the summer.  Somehow I neglected to take a finished picture of the exterior but here’s some views of the finished interior.

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Finishing the project just in time for the season to end last year it provided a spot for me to move plants that were starting to struggle with the temps and spots for my garden art I was starting to collect from the yard.  Several pieces found storage spots along the top of the wall, where they fit perfectly.

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Even at the end of the season it was still getting pretty warm inside the green house so it should work well to extend our growing season which is sadly very short due to being next to the mountains.

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And here’s how it looked during the final weeks of summer before fall arrived.  Having these containers in the space temporarily really helped me develop a plan for how we’ll set up everything come spring.  With our first snow of the season in late October we opted to leave everything in here and store the patio furniture in here for the winter as well, so it’s a hot mess these days, but come the first sign of spring I’ll be pulling everything out to get my plan in motion.  I’ll be sharing that here on the blog very soon so check back and feel free to make suggestions when I do! 🙂

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Expo Display with DIY Barn Doors

screenThe past week has sure been a busy one – hence the brief radio silence here on the blog – but it’s been a pretty productive one.  The Hubs has been helping me prepare a booth setup at a big wedding expo, while I continued to purge the house and catch up on editing client images.  Today I want to share the expo booth we created.

The foundation of the display were these large wooden barn doors, that the Hubs built for the opening to the office some time ago.  When he installed the barn door hardware he realized that these doors were a bit to heavy for the hardware, so he built another set with the same design but different material (I’ll be sharing those soon too!).  In the meantime, this pair had been sitting in the garage just taking up space.  When I decided to have a booth at the wedding expo I knew I needed something visually appealing that would draw people into my booth, but also wanted to keep the set-up simple and use materials I already had where possible.  It was the perfect opportunity to put these doors to work.

I described my plan to the Hubs and he built a simple yet substantial brace system using scrap wood from other projects on the back side of the doors so they would stand on their own.  I don’t have details on that part of the project since he handled that on his own, but here’s a few pictures of the back to give you an idea of the arrangement which seems pretty straightforward.  I can tell you these beasts were extremely HEAVY and awkward to transport, but they really made a statement and didn’t cost me anything extra.

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The doors were each 35″ wide so they were a bit shy of filling my 8′ by 8′ booth space. To fix that problem I asked the Hubs to add a rod between the two doors where I could hang a lace curtain.  He used brackets left over from another project to loosely hold the ends of the rod (a regular  wooden closet rod) so the doors could be angled along the curved wall of windows.  When we went to set up I realized the pocket on the curtain I’d purchased was too narrow for the rod, so I just draped it over and tucked it between the rod and the door to hold it in place.  To finish off the top of the doors I tacked up these copper string lights I got at Bed Bath & Beyond recently.

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I draped the tables with drop cloths (which serve as curtains our guest room in their down-time) and added a burlap runner from our wedding on the longer one.  I decorated around my photo display boards with lanterns, our DIY birch candles, wood slices, moss and mason jars of baby’s breath.  I borrowed the fruit basket off our kitchen counter to hold my flyers and my cast iron soap dish card holder fit right in with the rustic vibe.

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At the end of the long table I positioned a small copper table we’ve had for a while with a little giveaway drawing.  I printed up a little sign and put it in a frame I already had, placed pens from my bank in a mason jar and tossed a few moss ‘stones’ in a hurricane votive I thrifted some time ago to collect the entries.

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The TV from our bedroom made a perfect display screen for a rotating show of my images on a USB, saving the expense of multiple large photo prints, which would have been difficult to display in the space anyway.  I did order two large prints to go on the doors and the larger one on the side table to accompany a smaller one I had from previous shows.

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I attached the photo boards on the doors with some removable velcro strips along the diagonal board of the door so I can easily reuse them for another show in the future.  The smaller board I already had has an easel back attached to it and I used a simple table top easel from my decor stash for the new larger board.

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An upholstered chair from our guest room and a cute little heart pillow from our couch – which I just snagged in the Target Dollar Zone for $5 completed the look and closed off the extra space between my booth and the cake maker’s booth next to me, which worked well as she had a cake displayed on that side of the table and didn’t want anyone to walk by it.  The vendor on the other side of me had an adorable metal cart and umbrella which looked very nice next to my display.

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I love how it came together, just as I envisioned it in my mind and the fact that the majority of the items came from shopping our home makes it even sweeter.  The only things I had to buy to complete the look were the additional photo boards, lace curtain, copper light strands and some baby’s breath, totaling about $215.  Plus a few copies of the bridal magazine that featured a wedding I photographed last year for display! 🙂

Now that the show is over and we no longer need the barn doors I’ve posted them for sale on the local buy/sell pages to recoup some of the cost we had in building them originally and free up some storage/work space in the garage since Mother Nature has decided to dump around 15″ of snow on us over the last few days.  Thank goodness for heated garages when you’ve got a long list of winter time DIY projects!

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2017: Simplify

I’m not big on resolutions, but I always get an urge to plan out projects at the beginning of a new year.  Like many others, most of my planning for the year starts with clearing out the clutter and starting with a clean slate so I’ve been gathering all the things in the house that are no longer needed or wanted.  I’ll post a good bunch of them on the buy/sell pages but some things will be donated to the big charity auction I put on at work in March.

While this purge isn’t as massive as the Great Decrapification of 2015, the pile is already pretty large and I still plan to purge through some of my crafting inventory and the coat closet.  Even more surprising was that this pile comes after we’ve already purged quite a bit from the house throughout 2016 as evidenced by the pictures I started gathering for taxes (our tax professional recommended we start doing this to justify any donation deductions we were claiming in the event of an audit)!

As the clutter was cleared, I started to think that I should find a way to continue this motivation.  Not a resolution, just something to keep me focused.  I like the idea of choosing a word to represent your goals for the year and after a bit of thought I’ve decided mine is SIMPLIFY.  It’s a good reminder when I get wrapped up in a project to take a step back and think about what the basics are and eliminate the rest.  And I can apply it to just about everything:

  • Decorating: Less stuff means less to clean and maintain, plus less time to constantly change things up. I gave up my ‘holiday’ tree some time ago, but was still decorating the main area of the house for each little holiday.   Now I plan to decorate by season, rather than individual holidays so our home still feels inviting and cozy but I spend less time and energy creating looks that are only up for a few weeks.
  • Gardening: While it’s always fun to try new things in the garden and see how they grow, perennials are hardy and will come back year after year on their own leaving me more time to focus on harvest crops that will feed our family and important maintenance type projects.
  • Eating: Speaking of food – simplifying what we eat can go two ways, either less complex preparation such as one-pot and crockpot recipes or moving away from processed foods to heathier options.
  • Activities: While you can do everything, you can’t do it all at once. I’m letting go of several activities that aren’t bringing me the joy I envisioned they would so that I can explore other things I’ve been wanting to try and then select those that I most prefer.  Remember not every minute of every day needs to be planned out.  Sometimes the best creativity comes when your mind has time to relax.
  • My business: I’ve always based my photography business on a desire to create quality images for other DIY-minded folks who want portraits to document their lives but not the stress of choosing which images tell that story based on a budget. I’ve honed my style to be very simple and comfortable, which means I don’t need all of the cute props  I see stylized photographers using no matter how adorable they are.  And I don’t have to rush to offer a mini session “special” for every holiday because I have a low year-round rate.

There are many more topics I could apply as well, but overall each will hopefully reduce the extra stress modern life seems to induce.   And I’m realistic to realize that I won’t always be able to take the “simple” road because I live and work with others who influence my daily life.  But when those challenges come up I can remind myself that the simplest answer is usually the best and be sure to recommend that course of action.

This year is going to be a busy one –I’ve got a big project at work that will run through late spring, we plan to build the master deck this summer, I’ll be setting up the new greenhouse the Hubs built last year (I’ll share more on that soon) to get the growing season started, we are taking a trip to Iceland in the fall thanks to winning a contest and on the way home from that trip we’ll be attending my nephew’s wedding near D.C. which I’ll be photographing.   So simplifying other things will help keep things in balance.  Wish me luck and stay tuned to see how this little plan of mine turns out! 🙂

Windmill As Wall Art

0Happy New Year everyone!  I hope your holiday weekend was exactly how you wanted it to be, wether that was exciting or relaxed.  We took the relaxed approach.  I stayed home and the Hubs went hunting so no big ball dropping parties here.  Today I wanted to share another piece of wall art that came back on our recent trip to Portland.

This metal reproduction windmill.  If you remember I purchased an authentic windmill from Alaska Picker about a year ago and planned to display it on this faux shiplap wall but it was SUPER heavy and the Hubs just wasn’t sure we’d be able to locate studs in the right spots to mount it securely.  So when I spotted this baby on DecorSteals.com for $90 a few weeks before our trip I snapped one up and had it sent to my Mother-In-Law’s house since they wouldn’t ship to Alaska.

1This one is smaller and much lighter than the authentic one we bought.  Plus it comes apart into three sections so should I ever want to change things up I can use them separately without much effort.  It looked so awesome with our holiday decor and my new farmhouse style sign fit perfectly inside the bottom curve.

I packed up all the Christmas decorations over the weekend and I’m still working on my ‘winter’ decor for January – March, so we’ll see how I decorate around this in the coming days.  I’m considering adding two hanging lanterns or sconces on either side since the wall is so large, but I’ve got something else from our Portland trip going up on the wall where the barn wood angel hung for Christmas, so I want to wait until I get that up before I make a final decision, in case it would make the space too cluttered.

2So you’re probably wondering what we’ll do with the large and expensive authentic windmill right?  Don’t worry it will still get it’s due – I found a local buyer for it who wants to display it on a wall in her home.   And since she’s buying it for what we paid, we’re breaking even on that attempt.  Hopefully, she’s able to figure out a way to secure it well and enjoys it as much as I do this one.

We’ve also been working on another long-time-coming project recently – barn doors for the office!  The Hubs built the doors over the Christmas weekend and sanded them down so now it’s up to me to finish them with stain or paint.  I’m still debating on what the final choice will be but they should be done and installed this weekend so I can share them with you soon. 🙂