Our Scotland Adventure – Day 7

Our last day in Scotland was spent back in Edinburgh.  We had run out of time to see Holyrood Palace on Day 2 so that was the goal for today – and to handle the parking ticket we got while at Edinburgh Castle.  This time though we opted to leave the car at the hotel and take the bus into town.  I was quite excited to ride the double decker buses since we don’t have those here, so of course we immediately went upstairs upon boarding.  We sat toward the back and enjoyed seeing the sights as we headed into town rather than navigating the streets and GPS.

There were grand old homes turned into B&Bs or businesses.

And important looking structures like this one.

When the seats up front became available we moved up and enjoyed views like this as we watched traffic go past.

There were also numerous shop windows to take in.

It was a relatively short ride to reach the area near the magistrate’s office where we had to go to contest the ticket.  Once off the bus we got our bearings and soon realized we had to climb these stairs to get to the right street.

We took a short breather at the mid-way point to peek in the windows of the shops along the way.  I had to wonder how they handled deliveries of goods, but I guess that’s just part of the usual routine in this area.

The stairs took us to the Royal Mile, just down from the castle.  We were still a few blocks from the parking office, so we headed that direction as we enjoyed the sights.

Including architecture like this!

And shop windows like this.  I seriously considered buying that dress for my company holiday party, but didn’t think the Hubs would be up for the matching kilt!

After a couple mis-turns we found the right office to contest our ticket, spoke to the officials and learned that we had parked in an area where you have to have a special resident permit, not just the kiosk permit.  They told us we could appeal the ticket with a written statement and explain that we were tourists and hadn’t understood the difference.  We wrote up our statement and submitted it along with our contact information back home in case they had any questions.  Then we headed back out to the Royal Mile to make our way to Holyrood.  Having handled the pressing item of the day we were both in lighter spirits and totally got a chuckle out of this display!

Several shops had unique and clever names like this one.

And there were several more picturesque spots like this little alleyway, where I could envision Belle walking along reading a book.

I spotted this sign and had to pause, since I grew up on a Manse Rd.  I’d always figured it was a family name but never thought about it being older than that.

Along the Royal Mile I spotted this guy in one of the shop windows and fell in love.  So we stepped inside to find out how much he was.  It turned out he was quite heavy as he was constructed to be a door stop, but they had other similar designs as pillows and ornaments.

They also had this amazing Highland Coo bag that I had to have.  I offered to get one for my sister, but she turned it down – much to her disappointment when she saw mine in person later!

I also eyed this pretty scarf, but it was a bit beyond my budget so I got a picture instead.

We were getting hungry after our trek down the Royal Mile so we decided to stop and eat before getting to the castle.  We ducked into a quaint little pub, which we soon learned was the Tolbooth Tavern – full of history and stories.  We ordered and were pleased to see the hearty meals that were presented.

I had a few giggles watching the Hubs try to eat this massive burger without getting it all over himself.  I’m pleased to say that he did a pretty good job!

We walked off our food comas with the remaining blocks to Holyrood, where we quickly toured the gift shop and purchased our entrance tickets.  The courtyard in front of the palace has a magnificent fountain with ornate carvings of several historical Scottish figures.

There were dragons and lovers, and of course unicorns – the official animal of Scotland.

The palace had several impressive details like the stone carvings and gilded lanterns on the front wall.

Across the courtyard I spotted these cross windows.  I’m not sure what room they were for inside the wall but it was quite an interesting design that took countless hours of crafstmanship.

Photography is not allowed inside the palace, but the exterior gave plenty to take in.

After touring the palace, including the apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots, where David Rizzio had been murdered we made our way over to the abby ruins.  They were absolutely stunning.

These stone caskets were likely pulled from the sealed tombs within the abby when it was raided.  We headed out into the Queen’s gardens and made our way around the outside of the abby.

It was a beautiful landscape, where a giant jubilee is held each year.  I was so enamored with the gardens that I didn’t notice the stone ruins on the hillside beyond until I was editing these images!  The large crag behind the palace is Arthur’s Seat.

We sat for a bit just taking in the grounds and the history in this place, then made our way along the path to the exit.

On our way back to the bus station we stopped to see the Scott Monument, a victorian monument to Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott.  Luckily, it was just a few blocks from our bus stop so it wasn’t far out of the way since we were quite tired from all the walking we’d done that day.

We took in the skylines of the city as we boarded the bus, knowing these would be our last glimpses of the city and it’s history.

The ride itself was very entertaining as the buses, kept stopping so close to each other that we made noises each time and then giggled.  Just to give you an idea of how close they get there was only inches between them at this stop.

Back at the hotel we asked our new friend Steven, who works as a concierge, where the best nearby spot to go for dinner was.  I was wanting fish and chips for my last night and he drove us to a spot just a few miles away that did to-go orders.  With fish and chips and a Greek gyro in hand we grabbed a cab back to the hotel to rest our feet and dig in.  It was the perfect ending to our trip.

The next morning was rainy and gloomy as we headed to the airport.  But the rain did have an upside – I finally got a full shot of the Edinburgh sign without gaggles of tourists on it.

We lugged our very stuffed suitcases into the terminal and checked in as we thought about the wonderful trip we’d had.  It’s been fun reliving it through these posts and I hope it inspires you to go see some of these amazing places.  We’ll definitely be back again at some point!

Check out our other Scotland adventures:

And our travels through Iceland on the same trip with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

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Our Iceland Adventure – Day 4

The time has come to share our last day in Iceland.  We took it easy with some sightseeing to try to make our relaxing vibe from the Blue Lagoon the day prior last a little longer.  I’m a fan of lighthouses and with miles of rocky coasts Iceland has many.  Garður light house isn’t the most impressive but it looked interesting in the pictures I’d seen online and it was a short drive from where were were staying near the Blue Lagoon so we decided to check it out.

It sits out on a long jetty with it’s bright colors in contrast to it’s surroundings. We learned that it was once considered the best lighthouse in the country because of it’s low statue so mist wasn’t a problem.  But it was often damaged by the surf in this location so they later built a second taller lighthouse a bit further in from the point.  The bottom room of the  old lighthouse has since been converted into a small pub, but it’s only open in the evenings and we weren’t staying that long.

The newer light house looked like it had been transplanted from New England and reminded me of the many lighthouses along the eastern seaboard of the US.  As we were investigating the base of the light house we noticed some signs in the small entry way.  The signs were thanks from the US Coast Guard for three local fishing vessels who helped rescue the crew of the USCGC Alexander Hamilton when it was torpedoed and sunk while assisting the disabled Navy supply ship, the USS Yukon south of Iceland in 1942.  It was amazing to travel half way around the world and discover a USCG connection after the Hubs had retired from the Coast Guard just a few years earlier.

We wandered the shoreline taking in the old light house from a distance as a storm brewed off the coast.  And almost as if to signal that there are still guards on watch, an Icelandic Coast Guard helicopter flew over head.

As we left the point, we spotted this cute little farm, with simple architecture and an amazing view of the ocean.  There’s not many places where you can live on a farm with wide open spaces and still be next to the sea like this.

A bit further we spotted a church and pulled in to check it out.  There was this building in front of the church which was being remodeled inside.  The trim work on the outside of the building was quite ornate and it’s proximity to the church made us wonder what the building had been used for.  We soon found a sign that explained it had been the residence for the church leader, and was used for special functions.

Beyond the church we spotted a trail leading by a field of horses and decided to investigate.  The horses weren’t much interested in us since we didn’t have any treats for them, but they were still willing to pose for some lovely portraits.

The walkway out near the coast was well manicured and had obviously been designed to encourage enjoying the view along the coast line.  I walked back toward the light houses for a bit, but we were getting hungry so we decided to head back to the car and head out.

As we were leaving town we spotted this strange rock garden, which had several uniquely carved and decorated rocks.  We didn’t find any signs to describe what the place was used for but there were several electrical stations so we assumed that it was a spot for outdoor concerts and performances.

We made the short drive back to Keflavik where we would spend the night and fly out early the next morning.  We both got a kick out of the construction trucks that were driving in this area and how different they are from the bulky American rigs we’re used to.

We paused at the pull-off near the airport to get a shot of the rainbow structure.  It’s amazing at night when it’s all lit up.  I didn’t get a chance to get that shot due to weather but it was still interesting to see up close.

We ended up in the heart of Keflavik along the coast and found a nice Thai restaurant for lunch.  After lunch we looked around a bit and found these large ogre statues guarding the shoreline.  The Icelandic people are fairly superstitious and have several of these figures throughout the country.  There was a sign about the history of these figures and how a local kindergarten class had pushed to build an area where visitors could come up and see the ogres up close as well as see the view they were guarding.

Down the shoreline I spotted this interesting looking structure and decided to wander down to see what it was.  I was imagining all sorts of options as I rounded a small marina to get to the building.

Then I saw these giant foot prints on the walkway leading there and was even more intrigued.

As I got closer I realized just how big the structure was and noticed a sign next to the door indicating this was Giganta’s home.

Still not sure what to expect I stepped inside and found out Giganta is a large ogre who apparently loves children.  Many of the signs in the house were in Icelandic so I couldn’t fully understand all the details of her being here but I did gather that a local author had written several stories about Giganta and her friend who convinced her to move from the mountains to Keflavik.  Giganta apparently loves children, and not because of how they taste.

Giganta sat sleeping in a large rocking chair behind a wall.  She snored and tooted a bit but didn’t seem to stir at all as I took in her home.

There was a small tree nearby that had been decorated with pacifiers for some unknown reason but they were certainly a pop of color against the dark stone walls of the cave.

I bid farewell to Giganta and headed back toward the ogre statues where I’d left the Hubs with the vehicle.  Along the way I spotted this whale fin bone and anchor.  I’d seen whale vertabrae in gardens before but never the fin used this way.

We decided to find another nearby light house, which required investigating some industrial areas along the coast, but we finally found our way to it.  It wasn’t as impressive as the Garður light houses and there wasn’t anything else to see here so we decided to head to our last stop – the Viking World museum.

Along the way I made the Hubs pull over so I could get a shot of the Icelandic version of Walmart, called Bonus.  We saw this funny inebriated pig’s face everywhere during our stay and chucked every time.

In the same parking lot were these fun light figure poles.  It took me a second to spot them but once I did I had to smile.

Along the way to the museum we spotted another group of ogres watching over the city.  We couldn’t find a way to get closer to these ones so I settled for a shot from below their hill.

As a fan of the show Vikings I knew I wanted to make a stop at Viking World.  The main attraction is a full size viking ship that was recreated and sailed on a voyage to celebrate the millennial celebration of Leifur Eiríksson’s journey to the New World.

The ship is raised above the main area of the museum, so you can see it from all angles and you can even go aboard by walkind down a ramp from the second floor.  Having worked on ships the Hubs was quite impressed with the design and craftsmanship.  I was in love with the look of the textures in all the little areas.

My favorite feature was the carved dragon head at the front of the boat.  It reminded me that we were heading to Scotland the next day and had Loch Ness on the scheduled. 🙂

I’m a fan of Greek and Norse mythology so I also enjoyed the exhibition about the Norse Gods that depicted the major story lines of the characters and how the Vikings worshiped them.

There were several other exhibits about Viking life and travels.  The custom to bury their dead by boat pyre has always intrigued me because it seems so romantic and symbolic.  Getting to see a display of such a scene was pretty cool.  Honestly if that was an option today I think that’s what I’d choose for myself.

It was also interesting to learn about how the Vikings had interacted with the Inuit people during their travels.  I never really thought about those two groups meeting because I always think of Inuit in terms of Alaska and forget that they spanned the arctic circle, including the north eastern coast of North America.

There were carvings on display from the various Inuit tribes that were very similar to the ones we see from the tribes in Alaska.

As we left the museum, we spotted  another ogre statue across the harbor.  It seemed fitting here guarding the entrance to the area near the museum and the Viking vessel.  Mixing the old traditions and beliefs with the new and modern is something  Iceland seems to do quite well.

The last must see item was the Viking sword statue.  I wasn’t sure exactly where it was but knew it was near the museum, so we drove around a bit and finally spotted it in the middle of a roundabout!  I had the Hubs pull into a neighborhood so I could hop out and get a shot of it.

We found dinner in town and then headed back to the guesthouse hotel near the airport to rest for our early morning flight to Scotland.  It had been a wonderful few days of unique sights and exploring Viking country, but we were certainly ready for castles and highland life I love from Outlander.  I’ll be sharing those adventures soon so check back next week to hear about them!

Check out our other Icelandic adventures from Day 1, Day 2, and Day 4.  Then see our travels through Scotland on the same trip with Day 1, Day 2 here and here and Day 3.

The Shed Bed

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to write for the blog, but I found a few minutes today to share one of the last projects of the season before the snow started to fly.  I added a whole new flower bed along the side of the shed!  This space used to be a dumping ground for pallets and scrap wood we were saving for future projects, but its one of the first things you see as you pull up to the house and now that the green house was over her I wanted the area to have a more structured look.  So the Hubs helped clear out all the wood at the beginning of the season and I started planning out the layout once I confirmed the exposure this space gets is mostly shade.

Here’s how it was looking as fall started to arrive.  I’d used left over edging stones to create a border and placed a few pieces of garden art to start establishing the structure of the layout.  I stopped at an end of season plant sale near my office and got several options that should do well in the shade.  I planned to fill in with other plants from another bed that will be eliminated next summer.  Since this whole area is rocky back fill I put down a layer of top soil to create the base of the bed.

Once the top soil was in and the plants were in the ground I covered the areas around each plant with newspaper to prevent weed growth next season. It was an interesting process since the wind decided to kick up about the same time so I had to quickly put mulch down over the paper to hold it in place.

While I alternated between piecing newspaper sections around plants and chasing them across the yard as they blew in the wind, my assistant was quite busy catching up on her dirt baths…

I used wood chip mulch because it was inexpensive and I had several large areas to cover between this bed and some other projects.  The Hubs got me a full truck load of wood chips for around $20 the same day he got me the load of top soil and gravel to go around the green house.

Since I’m using perennials, I left plenty of room for things to spread over the coming years.  I used lambs ear around the rusty metal tank to create a batch of low visual interest along the front of the center of the bed.

These two hostas were transplants from the shade bed at the corner of the fenced yard which will be eliminated next season when we build a new outbuilding.  I call it “The Barn” but the Hubs thinks it’s a garage.  We’ll see who wins that debate. 🙂

Another transplant is this little astible.   This is the third placement it’s had since coming to our house.  He started in the gifted garden but was getting too much sun so I moved him to the shade bed where he did much better.  Hopefully the third time is a charm holds true for him and he continues to grow even fuller in this spot.

I also used a few new catmint plants since Luna loves the ones we have in other beds already and it’s an easy keeper that fills in areas nicely.  These will give her a couple to choose from so she alternates which she rolls in each day so they all get a break to recuperate!

I also transplanted a Seal of Solomon that surprised me in the gifted garden.  I’d brought him back from my Mother-In-Law’s garden in Washington and hadn’t seen him in the spring so I thought he hadn’t survived the winter.  This spot should be a much better exposure for him and he looks quite cozy behind the little quail family who are now safer from my active four-legged children!

Here’s how things looked once everything was in.  I’m excited to see how it all comes back next spring and watch it fill in the space.

There’s still some finishing touches needed, but this is a much better first impression as you come up the driveway.  It will look even better when I get that gravel the Hubs got me spread in front of it! Fingers crossed the weather will cooperate to let me do that next week when I have some time available so we don’t have piles of material at the corner of the driveway all winter!  And while I’m doing that the Hubs can get the last of the shed’s gutter completed so we have a ready supply of water when spring returns. 🙂

Adding Chippy Charm to the Deck

Is anyone else still coming to terms with the fact that it’s already mid-August?  While blog land and Pinterest fill with everything fall, I’m clinging to the last bits of summer.  It’s been a rainy one here and while that’s great for my plants I’d prefer more sunshine during summertime.  Luckily, I’ve had plenty of projects to distract me, including this spot on our deck where I created an extra seating and planting area with an old bench that I picked up at the Junk Bonaza show last fall.

It was a steal at just $30 and I knew it would look great on the deck – plus it can double as a photo prop for large families!  It’s the perfect amount of chippy paint and classic lines for my style.  I placed it under the dining room windows and flanked it with our whiskey barrel fountain and a wooden barrel we picked up on our last trip to Portland.  Then I added in plants and a bird house to finish off the look.

This arrangement brings so much color and life to this side of the deck.  Most of the plants I used are in pots with minimal or no drainage so being under the eave of the house is a smart choice, plus they all have a rustic vibe to them so they pair well with the worn bench.

I’ll be enjoying this pretty set up as much as possible for the rest of the summer, even if that’s only until the end of the month.  I can’t wait to figure out similar areas on the new deck off our Master bedroom next summer.  That deck is almost done, so I should be sharing it with you soon!

 

A Little Downtime

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Although the hubs and I got A LOT done in the yard over the long holiday weekend, a nasty allergy-induced head cold has been kicking my butt the last few days.  Luckily, I haven’t had any photography clients this week so I was able to take some downtime to rest – as in hitting the hay as soon as I’ve gotten home the past two evenings!  Thanks to that downtime I’m finally feeling a bit better.  I’m hoping to get some of the pictures from our projects prepped for the blog tonight and have a few new posts for you starting tomorrow.  Then I’ll be working on a few more this weekend, so stay tuned. 🙂

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A DIY Command Center

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Containing paper clutter is a constant battle in our home, just as I’m sure many can relate.  Because we enter the house from the garage through the laundry room most of the stuff that comes home ends up dumped on the dining room table or kitchen counters so I figured that was a good place to start.  I decided to create a command center in this little corner where we could write notes, stash important papers and organize the hub’s stuff.

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I started with a small wooden organizer where the hubs can stash his wallet, receipts and notes.  I also found him a small jar with a lid for loose change.  That worked fairly well, but he often had full size papers that he needed handy so I decided to add a wire rack we picked up during one of our trips to Portland.  It had been in the laundry room for a while but never got used there and came down when I did my DIY Ballard Knockoff Décor for that space, so I’m glad it’s found a useful home here.  I used two clear hooks with removable adhesive tape to hang it just under the countertop.  It fits the small nook of space perfectly.

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Originally I wanted to paint the side of the top cabinet to create a chalkboard but the hubs nixed that idea noting that if I changed my mind later removing the paint would damage the cabinet.  What?!  I never change my mind! Well ok.  He might have a point there. 🙂  So I came up with a better idea.  I’d paint a piece of sheet metal and install that on the side of the cabinet so it was both chalkboard and a magnet board!  Of course they didn’t sell a piece that was just the right size so the hubs cut one down for me.

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A couple thin coats of chalkboard paint and it was looking pretty good.  The hardest part was waiting for it to dry in between coats.

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Next I seasoned the chalkboard by rubbing a piece of chalk over the entire surface and then wiping it down.  This helps prevent things from “staying” on the surface after you wipe them down.

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Since the hubs wanted the piece to be removable I attached it with the same removable adhesive strips I’d used on the hooks for the wire rack.  IF I every change my mind I can start at the bottom and work my way up pulling the tabs to release the adhesive.

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I stuck it up on the side of the cabinet against the trim on the front and top of the cabinet so the edges weren’t exposed.  And as you can see, it works great as a magnetic board too holding our early bird tickets for Junk Bonanza outside Portland in October!

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Things were looking pretty good at this point but I wanted to address the uneven edge of the metal along the wall.  The hubs did a great job cutting the sheet metal, but the tool he used had to take a 1/4″ off at a time so he wasn’t able to match the size exactly.  He was pretty frustrated that it wasn’t perfect, so I wanted to find a way to make it work.

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I tried a few pieces of trim we had on hand but most were too big or bulky.  I picked up a square dowel at Lowes but that was too narrow and too thick, so I returned that.  A few days later I was at Michaels and figured I’d look at what they had.  I’m glad I did because I found a piece of balsa wood that was the right thickness and width for what we needed. At less than $2 plus a coupon it was the perfect solution. I gave it a couple coats of stain to match the cabinet color.  It fit so well that it actually stayed up without any adhesive but I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t get bumped off so I added a little hot glue on the backside before putting it up.  The glue should be easy to peel off if I ever need to.

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Now I needed somewhere to store my chalk.  I originally planned to use colored chalk pens like the yellow you saw above, but they have to be primed and I didn’t want to deal with delays when I needed to work up a grocery list, so I opted for old-school white chalk instead.  I used more hot glue to attach this pull handle upside down to create a cup where the chalk sits.  I did have to reposition the cup due to installing it unevenly, which caused the chalk paint to peel up a bit which caused the bare spot under the holder, but I touched that up with a thin coat of chalkboard paint and it looks fine now.  I still need to touch up the wall paint, but I’ll get to that at some point.

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Since the papers in the rack still looked messy I found these simple poly vinyl folders to clean it up a bit.  I wanted something a little cuter, but apparently mid-March is not prime season for two pocket folders.  Who knew right?!  I’ll keep an eye out when the back to school supplies come out in the fall, but for now these seem like they will hold up pretty well and could be easy enough to add simple decoration to with paint or vinyl designs.  That might just be a future post if I do!

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Total cost for the all the materials came in around $50. Because the extra metal and chalkboard paint can be used for other projects that lessens the total a bit too.  I love it and I’m sure it will be super handy once we start fostering and have kiddo’s school papers to manage.   I’m going to keep an eye out for another wire rack that matches this one when we are in Portland this fall in case we need to expand since there’s still room on the bottom cabinet to accommodate another.

I’d love to hear what you think of our new DIY command center or how you created one of your own, so leave me a comment below.

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TDC Before and After

DIY Moose Mount

7Today I’m sharing a recent DIY project the hubs helped me create as part of the games for my employer’s company holiday party.  The company is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year so we had a theme of ‘silver winter.’  We wanted to try having some games that people could do before dinner was served and I came up with the idea of a moose head ring toss.  I found this resin moose head on Amazon, which the company purchased for around $20 after we used some gift certificates from a vendor we work with.

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Much to the hubs dismay, I spray painted him white.  Sometimes he just can’t see my vision. 😉  Once we had the moose head ready we purchased the wood, screws and metal strips to make the mounting board.  We laid everything out in the garage for a dry run before putting it together.

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The first step was staining the wood, which was precut whiteboard.  I had planned to use pallet wood but ran out of time to disassemble the pallets I had.  Luckily these were the right size and at around $5/board they didn’t break the bank.

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Here’s the moose head, sans antlers, on the stained boards.  I love the contrast and rustic feel!

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The next step was adding the metal brackets on either side to hold the boards together.  The hubs convinced me it was cheaper to buy a long solid piece of metal, so he cut it to size and drilled the holes for the screws.

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The hubs and Stoli look so thrilled to show off the finished project don’t they?!   At the party we set the board on a table on top of a white fur throw with the back propped up against the wall so players could attempt the ring toss.

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And now that the party is over and the company has no use for it any longer it’s become a focal point in our guest room!

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As I was prepping the images for this post I realized that when we hung the board at the house it’s actually upside down, which makes the moose sit a little higher than it did in the “finished” picture.  I might eventually correct that but since it’s not that noticeable that’s pretty low on the priority level.

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I think I’ll dress him up a bit next holiday season with a scarf or fur wrap, like I’ve seen many other bloggers do since I plan to decorate more throughout the house with small touches.  I’d love to hear what you think of our latest project and how it looks in our rustic Alaskan guest bedroom!

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