A Few New Accessories

PhoneOne of the few negatives about Alaska life is that you can’t activate a Verizon iPhone while in the state so, while we were traveling across the lower 48 recently, both the hubs and myself got new phones.  Our old phones had been in service for several years and were starting have a few issues that were annoying, so it was time to upgrade.  While he chose to cross to the dark side and get a new Samsung Galaxy, I just couldn’t unlearn my well-honed iPhone habits – as evidenced by my constant frustration while playing with his phone a few days prior to upgrading mine, so I chose to move up from a 4 to a 5.

Unfortunately, the day we chose to go get my new phone was the day after the new iPhone 5c and 5s came out, so it took a while to get everything transferred over to the new phone.  I didn’t have any need of the higher end 5c or 5s features so I went with a regular 5, which I upgraded to the new iOS7 that evening.    It took me a while to get used to the new look and feel, but after a few days I was feeling pretty comfortable.

And of course because the 5 is a different size than the 4, I had to buy a new case.  Lucky for me, we found an extra batter pack and case in PURPLE, which I’m in love with.  I love it even more after my phone fell out of my coat pocket the other day and survived without so much as a scratch on the case!

And to sweeten the deal the retailer offered a $100 gift card if you traded in your old iPhone when purchasing a new one, so of course we took them up on that deal, which made the new phone free!  We couldn’t trade in hubby’s old iPhone since he bought a new Samsung, but we sold it on Craigslist with all the accessories for about the same price to a young Army officer in desperate need of a new phone after his broke, so that was a win-win too.

I also picked up a new mustard yellow purse while on our trip.  I’d been on the hunt for a yellow purse for a few weeks, having given my old purple purse to my sister, but hadn’t found anything that spoke to me, but when I spotted this beauty in the window I heard heavenly hold music.  I spent a little more on it than I typically do for purses, but its leather and should hold up to the on-coming Alaskan winter weather.

PurseThe mustard shade seems to coordinate well with whatever I pair it with and is a perfect color for fall.  The thing I’m enjoying the most is all the pockets it has.  It’s like whoever designed this purse knew exactly what I wanted to keep in it and made a pocket just for those items – including my new purple phone!  My sister has already laid claim to it when I’m ready to move on, so I guess I’ve got good taste! 😉

What’s your latest accessory upgrade?  Was it something new for fall, or have you already jumped on the holiday bandwagon?


A Few More Freebies

Windows These old wood framed windows are my latest Craigslist freebie score!   I don’t have a specific plan for them just yet, but I’m thinking several might be touched up and enhanced with holiday themed vinyl cutouts!

As I drove home with my new treasures, I contemplated all of the things we’ve found for FREE since moving to the mainland and having access to the genius of Craigslist.  Let’s recall some of my finds.  There was the massive hot tub, the fruitful raspberry plants and wildflowers, a future fire pit drum, next season’s strawberry planter/compost barrel, an interior door that will become a new desk top for my office, NEW Christmas decorations that came with a large heavy-duty wheelbarrow in need of a new tire, 2 chairs for photo props, shutter style bi-fold doors for craft fair booths or photography backdrops, and of course a delivered load of used tires for my rain garden!

As you can tell, I’m a regular in the free section.  It’s kinda addicting – I’ve even got my hubby scanning the list pretty often! 🙂 I actually get all warm and tingly reclaiming and reviving something that would have otherwise been added to the landfill.  But I’m apparently not the only one, as someone did beat me to the vintage metal lockers I was hoping to snap up for the garage a few weeks ago! It’s amazing what’s offered up – free for the taking if you put in a little effort.

Yet even with all these amazing finds, there are still things I’ve passed up just because it’s just better to wait until we’re in the house and ready for that item or project – like free chickens or an old fridge the hubs can convert into a smoker (luckily not in the same ad!).  And the fact that the garage is starting to feel a bit cramped… But, that’s the beauty of the Craigslist free section – there’s always more to choose from!  So I’m sure there will be another old fridge available when we’re ready to hunt and in need of a large smoker next year.  And I bet there will be an old chest freezer for free or nearly too!  As you know, I’ve also found several great deals like this and this on Craigslist that were low-cost albeit not free.

Are you a Craigslist freebie hunter too?  What treasures have you found and restored?  I want to hear about them!

A Studio of My Very Own!

The studio/office is my most anticipated and daydreamed about room in our new home for obvious reasons.  Although the main colors will be the same neutrals found in other rooms of our home, there will be a healthy dose of purple accents throughout the space, including my pretty purple chair I’ve blogged about before.  The plans for this space include a wall-length desk down one side of the room with shelves overhead for storage.  Something like this.

I want enough room for both the hubs and I to have a spot to sit with the printer and Silhouette  in between.  I’d like the printer to live in a cabinet under the desk where we can store paper too.  I plan for the Silhouette to be on the desk top where there will be room to feed material into it.  Here’s the basic concept, made with two wood file cabinets we got on Craigslist right after moving to the mainland for $25 each and a cabinet we will build to house the printer and support the middle of the desk.

Picture 2Because we have more files than the two cabinets can hold as it is, I might add a file storage bench like this one.  It would provide a little bit of extra seating if I have a group of clients and can be moved around as needed or even used as a prop.

Luckily hubby uses a laptop that won’t always be on the desk, so that leaves room for me to spread out with craft projects.  I’m toying with the idea of adding peg board – likely painted purple – on the wall above the desk but below the shelves for storing things up off the desk, keeping the desktop clear.

The other wall will remain mostly bare to accommodate my backdrops for photography sessions.  I may eventually add studio lights to my photography arsenal, but for now the natural light from the window will work just fine. I may finish that wall in pallet wood like this, but that would likely be a project much later down the road.

I’m on the hunt for a large armoire or hutch for the other corner by the door to house my craft supplies like this.  That keeps things behind closed doors, both out of sight and out of reach of any clients’ little hands.  I might add something like this to the side of the armoire for a little extra work space when crafting so I’m not always spread out on the desktop.  The other option is to create something with storage underneath and above a workspace in the center like this.

Large sliding barn doors like these will added at some point to allow us to close off the space when have guests over or I need a little privacy for a boudoir session.  They’d double as a nice backdrop if needed too!  We will have to figure out a way for the doors to fit past the desk and shelves when open, but that should be simple as leaving a gap between the desk and the wall.

So that’s the grand plan to fit a photo studio, craft room and office for two into one room.  Good thing it’s a fairly large one!  🙂

How Will My Garden Grow?

As I mentioned last week I plan to install our garden in the alcove created by the side of the house and the back of the third garage bay.  The space measures 12′ wide by 22′ long, which is a great space for a garden.  Here is the space as it sits.

GardenI knew I wanted the garden fenced off from the rest of the yard so the dogs wouldn’t be in there when we’re not home, but I hadn’t really decided what kind of fencing to use until I saw this community garden here in Anchorage!  Can you say AH-MAZE-ING?!


CIHAPostAnd the construction seemed simple enough – hog panels stapled (with heavy duty staples) onto posts and trim supports. While I love the arbor around the top, that might come in “Phase 2” but it would provide a great spot for plants such as strawberries or even tomatoes to trail!  I also plan for the pergola over the gate to come later.  It’s more important to get the garden going and producing than making it super pretty right?

Granted, my garden won’t be this big, (and if it was I might have to quit my day-job just to maintain it!), but the overall layout and design is a perfect example of what I want.  I took the hubs by to make sure it was doable on a smaller scale and he liked it.  He even mentioned how their raised beds were probably the exact design he’d suggest for our garden!


Although I’d love to have a green house right away, I know that likely won’t happen until next summer.  But when it does happen, I plan to use these Ana-White.com plans!  I’m thinking the green house will end up somewhere to the right of the garden where it will get sunlight all day.  Until then I will use hoops over the raised beds to extend the growing season on either end.

Right now I plan to grow chard, celery, cucumbers, tomatoes (regular and cherry), bell peppers (different colors for salsa!), carrots, green and yellow onions, potatoes, jalapenos (not sure how they will fare in this climate, so I might have to wait until we have a green house), garlic, snow peas, green beans and broccoli.  I also recently inherited a purple cauliflower plant which will find a home in my garden if it survives the move.  I also plan to have stacked planters like these on the back deck in which I’ll transplant my current salad bowl and create an herb garden with basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, dill and cilantro, which can be moved during the winter.

BarrelI recently found this plastic barrel for free on Craigslist and plan to create something like this with it to plant my strawberries in.  A planter and compost all in one?  Sounds great!  Made with a freebie barrel – even better!

RainBarrelWe will also be installing rain barrels with rain chains around the house like this.  Luckily, I have a previous photography client who used wine and whiskey barrels as their wedding decor and no longer needs them, so I’ve got some earmarked for me at a discounted rate! 🙂  I also found this super simple and inexpensive tutorial for a copper rain chain that I plan to make.  And because we are working with the rain garden program, any money spent on these rain catchments counts toward our overall budget, of which half will will be reimbursed!

Now we just need to fast forward to move in day and put all these plans into action!

Big Plans for the Back Yard

Although the house is still under construction and we won’t move in until late fall, we’ve already been thinking about what we want the back yard to look like.  The builder will install a 20′ x 12′ deck off the family room – where the three ‘pink’ footers are in the picture below.  We specifically requested an additional slider door be included in our Master Bedroom rather than just a window so we can have back yard access on that side too.  The builder will provide basic ‘steps’ at that door for now, but next season we plan to build a deck to match the one on the other side.


We had originally planned to continue the deck out the entire length of the house, but we decided it would be easier and more cost effective to have the two decks with a ground-level patio in between so that the hot tub could sit lower than the deck which eliminates the need to ‘climb’ into it.  Plus I won’t fret about the deck being stable enough to support a full hot tub!

I also like the idea of breaking the space up into different areas for different purposes.  I’m envisioning something like this on our ‘private’ Master Bedroom deck for lounging and a dining set on the deck off the family room.  On the patio below I would like to make something like this where guests could sit and relax near a fire pit which will be made from this free washing machine tub we snagged on Craigslist last week!


The plan is to use pavers like this or stamped concrete like this on the patio, then use landscaping stones to create a spot that the drum will slide into.  Eventually we’d like to have one or both decks screened in or at least covered by a pergola with some sort of rain protection to extend the usability in our short summer season.  But that of course is a year or five down the road.

Beyond the decks and patio we plan to have grass for the dogs.  Depending on when we get into the house, we might buy some of the ‘end of season clearance seed’ to put out and see what we get, but most likely we will have the yard hydroseeded next spring.  I was stunned to find out that they charge just $395 if the area to be seeded is less than 3,000 sq. ft.  Um, yeah!  Sounds good to me!  Definitely better than the Craigslist ad I saw for free sod if you come cut up and haul off some guy’s yard!  I might be thrifty, but I know my time is valuable and I’d spend a whole lot more digging up, hauling and replanting his old “who knows what’s in it” grass than paying the out call to have fresh, weed free grass growing within 2 weeks!  Knowing us we’ll measure out everything before we schedule and make sure we’re just under that figure. We should be able to do an L-shape around the back and side of the house well within that figure.  🙂

I don’t have much landscaping beyond the deck-patio-deck and lawn planned for the back yard, but I will probably put a small flower bed along the bedroom side of the house for perennials like bulbs and hostas.  Our garden will be to the right of the deck off the family room in the alcove created between the side o the house and 3rd bay of the garage, which you can see on the right edge of the photo above.  Watch for a post about that plan next week!

A Sweet Freebie!

I love browsing the “Free” section of Craigslist because you just never know what you might find – like a hot tub!  The other day I spotted an ad for free raspberry plants.  I’d been planning to add raspberries to our landscaping and/or garden at the new house and thought even if they weren’t in great shape I just couldn’t beat free, so I called the number.

The lady told me they were growing behind a trailer she was renovating and I could go anytime to take as much or as little as I wanted.  She also said that they were producing berries already, they just weren’t turning red.  I told her I’d come by the next day to get them.  And the next day it rained.  All day.  I decided to hold off and see if the weather cleared, which it did the following day so off I went, with boots, gloves and shovel in hand.

When I arrived I was shocked to see a thicket of plants along the entire back side of the trailer.  They were almost as tall as me and growing like weeds.  I picked out the plants with the most berries that were the easiest to get to and started digging.  They came up fairly easily, so hopefully I got enough of the roots for them to transplant well.  I took about 5-6 plants as that’s all I had containers for at our rental right now and kept a few of the feeder branches that broke off but had small roots.  I wish I’d taken a picture of just how full the back of my truck was, but here’s what I ended up with once they were planted!


It’s hard to tell from this angle, but the tub in the back is just as full as the one in the middle.  The first tub holds the iris I traded tulip bulbs for in Kodiak and was able to bring with us when we moved this winter.  You’ll notice there are also some tall purple flowers in the back of that tub.  I collected those from the same place as the raspberry bushes since they were right next to the bushes and would have been demolished in the process of me digging.  Hopefully they take and can be transplanted into our yard next season.  They seemed to be growing on their own all around the site so I’m thinking they might be a local wildflower.  Here’s a closer shot.  Anyone know what they are?


The raspberry branches I kept ended up in their own planter.  That little bucket was the only thing I had left to plant in!  I’m not sure if any of them will take root, but I figured it was worth a shot.


The hubs and I wondered if they might be salmon berry bushes rather than raspberries and set out on an exhaustive Internet search to see if we could confirm that theory.  I’ve come to believe they are in fact raspberries based on the leaf shape, but if they develop purple/pink flowers next year they might just prove me wrong.  And just to prove that they do in-fact produce fruit, here’s a shot of one of the berries.


I decided to leave everything be for now and let them settle in.  If it looks like they take root I might prune them a little in the fall, just before winter to clean them up before the move.  If we get into the house before the first frost I’ll get them planted in the ground, but if not they can winter over in these tubs once I wrap them. Either way, I’m now planning for a sweet harvest next summer – provided that the dogs or the moose don’t get to the berries first! LOL

I’ll Take That As a Yes!

In my last post I mentioned that we planned to add a hot tub to the back of the house near the slider in our Master Bedroom.  We originally thought we’d purchase a smaller close-out model as our ‘joint’ Christmas present to ourselves, but while browsing Craigslist recently I noticed that they tend to pop up for FREE with only minor issues.  Apparently many people get them or inherit them when they move in and don’t want to maintain them, so they want someone to haul it off to make room for other things.  Works for us!

We’d called about one advertised as ‘working but has a crack due to water being left in it over the winter and freezing’.  Apparently so did a lot of other people and we were too far down the list to end up taking it home.  It must have been fate because the other night I spotted another post for a free hot tub that said it ran, had a new pump and heater, but had a small leak.  I emailed the contact and asked to come take a look the next afternoon.  Luckily, I was the first to do so because the gal said we had first dibs before she responded to other emails.

The hubs went to look at it after work Monday night and made arrangements to come back when the lady’s boyfriend was off work since he owned a nearby equipment rental business and could load the massive 8 PERSON tub on our 4-wheeler trailer with a forklift!  So, later that afternoon the hubby went back to their house with our trailer in tow and came home with this.


It’s in desperate need of a good scrubbing, but upon inspection of the inner workings it seems to be in great shape albeit home to many creepy crawlers – who didn’t seem to faze my hubby from inspecting every nook and cranny.



From what my jet engine mechanic husband can tell, it just needs a fitting on this pipe (photo on the left) next to the power box replaced so it looks like its match on the other side (photo on the right), and a new plug.

4  5

Hubs estimates the fitting to be under $15 and thinks the plug should run less than $50!  There is a hot tub store nearby so we plan to take it by there to confirm the parts needed and order them.

The standard cover was included, although it too needs a good pressure wash.  The new heater is still in the box, so we’ll keep it as a spare if everything works fine when we fire it up.  It also came with a box full of chemicals to maintain the PH and whatnot.  I haven’t checked for expiration dates on any of it but I’m sure there’s enough in there to get us started and figure out what we’d need to have on hand.


I’m sure this will be one of the first items ‘set up’ upon move in, and plan for it to be in use when we do finally have a house warming party!  We plan to build a deck off our bedroom to match the builder provided deck off the dining room and have a lower area between them covered with pavers or gravel for additional seating.  The hot tub will sit on a paver or concrete pad just to the right of the deck off the bedroom so it’s an easy step down into it rather than having to climb in and out of it on the deck.  That plan also eliminates the need for extra support beams and braces when we build the deck, saving money yet again.

Now I’m on the hunt for ideas on how to update the worn exterior paneling on the tub, which I’m thinking can be lightly sanded and restained or painted.  I’m sure Pinterest will have a host of ideas for that rather large project!   But the elbow grease will be well worth it in the end! And the hubs and I will be singing Phil Vassar’s “Hot Tub” song while enjoying the fruits of our labor! 🙂

The Life We Live

Picture 1
“I wrote this down and keep it near my desk to remind me every day. Thank you again for your encouraging words Jenna.”

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

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

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


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

Another Super-Sweet Craigslist Find!

1100I’ve been looking for a dresser or hutch to live in our guest room while in the rental and then become the entry way table when we move into our new home later this year.  I knew I wanted lots of storage, preferably with cabinets, but didn’t want to spend a lot if I still had to refinish it.

I had found this piece at a local antique store and fell in LOVE with it.  I seriously daydreamed about it.  But with a price tag of $1100 I just couldn’t commit.

1600I also found this one at a local furniture boutique and was smitten especially when I realized the bottom 5 drawers were false fronts making doors that opened to cabinets!  But at $1600 I walked away again.  So I continued watching Craigslist and the local refinisher’s Facebook profiles to see if I could find something similar at a more palatable price.

While browsing during a car wash – yes I multitask often! – I spotted a posting for a couple of dressers by someone moving out of state.  One looked like it would work, although it didn’t have the cabinets I was hoping for.  I showed the post to the hubs who liked it.  So I called the guy and arranged to come take a look that afternoon.

DresserScratchCash in hand we checked the piece over and noticed a sizable ding in the top front of the dresser.  The hubs thought he’d be able to repair it when we refinish the piece, so I made an offer $25 less than what they were asking.  And the seller accepted!  It came with a matching mirror, which I wasn’t interested in but figured we could clean up and resell to off-set some of the cost of the dresser.

So we loaded it up and headed home just a few blocks away.  Good thing it wasn’t far because this bad boy is MASSIVE and TALL.  It was interesting getting it inside and upstairs with just the two of us but we did it.  And then took a well deserved break.

I cleaned it up with some Old English and filled most of the drawers with my decor materials, leaving a few for guests to use.  Unfortunately some of my larger decor pieces like my glass cloche domes and candlestick stands are too big to fit in the drawers and still have to be stored in the closet, but it holds 90% of what I wanted it to, so I think it turned out alright.

So what do you think we paid for this piece?  Remember I’m a bargainista…..


Would you believe we brought this baby home for just $100?!  It’s true!  And that included the mirror which I’ll clean up and sell in a few weeks making it even more of a deal!

We don’t plan to refinish it until we move since it will likely get dinged and scratched on the way to the new house, so that gives me time to ponder exactly what to do with it.  I’m sure we’ll paint it so that we can fix the ding in the top but need to decide on a color.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe do have paint left over from the little sewing table nightstand we did while in Kodiak.  Since the new house will have an extra bedroom to furnish there is a good possibility it could remain a guest room dresser.  If we use the same gray/green color as the nightstand and distress it a little to show some brown it would make a nice ‘set’.

I did find this DIY tutorial to make the same style as the $1600 dresser, so we may still end up with that in our new entry way, but I’d want it to have a molding on the bottom so I’m not constantly fishing Sangria’s tennis balls out from under it, which is a feature I was very happy to get on this bargain piece.  Although even if it didn’t, I’d still think I found a sweet deal! 🙂