Cottage: Butcher Block

It’s been a minute since my last cottage update. No cause for alarm, we haven’t been Up North since early January and we’re down to miscellaneous punch list items to complete.  We will be back for a quick weekend at the end of end of March, after which I will hopefully have some exciting “reveals” to share with you.

So in the meantime…I’m going to backtrack and share a little about the countertops we selected for the kitchen.

Here are a few reasons why we decided on butcher block

  1. I/We like they way they look (most important)
  2. Affordability (almost most important)
  3. Cohesive with our other natural elements (cork floors, pine plank walls, etc)
  4. Easy install (thanks Pop!)

We purchased birch butcher block slabs & backsplash from Lowes, conditioned with 4 coats of food grade mineral oil/natural wax, cut down to size, cut out sink hole, installed countertops then backsplash.

The total cost was around $500 which is very reasonable compared to other countertop options.  The butcher block is a perfect complement to the floors and walls and I love the variations in the grain and colors.

Disclaimer: butcher block must be conditioned periodically to prevent it from drying out and cracking, and you have to be cautions with scratches and spills, but we don’t mind.

Interested in butcher block? Here is some information I found helpful:

7 Things to Know Before Installing Butcher Block Countertops

Butcher Block and Wood Countertops

All About Wood Countertops















Recent Reads

Reading is relaxing for me.  There is nothing better than becoming fully immersed in a new book which often involves staying up way too late to read “just one more chapter.”  I’ll admit I do appreciate the convenience of e-books, but there is something about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages that can’t be replaced.  My mom shares this feeling, and she has been an avid reader my entire life…which is probably where I got it from.

I am always on the look-out for my next book to dive into. I’ll be honest, there are some books I have abandoned part-way through (gasp) because I just couldn’t “get into it”. Here are 4 of my recent reads that I think are worth checking out.  I will refrain from sharing too much detail because that is the beauty of reading…

The Magnolia Story

Chip Gaines, Joanna Gaines, and Mark Dagostino

Capital Gaines

Chip Gaines


I read The Magnolia Story first and was excited when they announced Chip’s book Capital Gaines.  I even got a free Magnolia t-shirt for pre-ordering, BONUS!  Both of these books give insight into the history of the Gaines family and how Magnolia became a household name.  Even though some of the subject matter may be similar the tone and perspective between the two books is very unique and you feel like you get a real glimpse of their lives far beyond what we see on HGTV.  They share so much heart and love, and who couldn’t use a little more of that?  In my opinion, you don’t have to be a fan of Fixer Upper to enjoy these, their stories stand on their own. Visiting Waco and Magnolia Market is already on my travel “bucket list” and these just added more fuel to the fire.

Of Mess And Moxie

Jen Hatmaker

Girl, Wash Your Face

Rachel Hollis


I first saw Jen a few years ago when she was on My Big Family Renovation on HGTV and I fell in love with her sense of humor.  I have read several of her books since and Of Mess And Moxie is her most recent.  It was actually through Jen’s social media that I was “introduced” to Rachel Hollis and in turn Girl, Wash Your Face.  Let me tell you…these ladies are strong, sincere and FUNNY.  Both of these books will make you reflect, laugh, and maybe even cry a little.  There were moments reading these books that I felt like the authors were sitting right next to me chatting over a cup of coffee…I definitely want to in real life.  Aside from just the entertainment value of a good read…both of these books would be great for book clubs, personal development, or gifts.

All 4 of these books are available on Amazon (Prime!)…if you are like me and love a good hardcover, they are all around $15.00 or less.

What have you been reading lately?

That One Room

I know at least some of you have one too…that one room in the house that is both multipurpose while simultaneously serving no single purpose well at all.

Sometimes we refer to it as the spare room, sometimes the office because there is a desk and bookshelf in there.  Occasionally we have used it as a secondary guest room, but most of the time we just use it to shove things we don’t know what else to do with, like a giant junk drawer.  Immediately after Thanksgiving it turns in to a staging area for Christmas decorations and a wrapping station, and that usually lasts until mid-January. There is a reason that door is always closed when we have company. 

This isn’t the first time this room has been a topic on here..there was this previous attempt  to make the room more pleasing to the eye. I really like some of the vintage/sports “theme” items we have collected, and would like to keep them.  However, those elements quickly get overshadowed by all of the clutter.

In my last post I talked about goals but I neglected this one…THIS will be the year THAT ONE ROOM will get a real purpose and be treated as such. I’m not exactly sure yet what that will be, probably an office, to be continued…


Goals Revisited

We are officially one full month into 2018 (which is CRAZY)  I’ve been thinking it is about time for me to briefly recap/revisit my 2017 GOALS with you…

1.Finish Cottage Remodel

We have made AMAZING progress on the cottage! It is now in living condition and ready for final inspection. We are looking forward it to enjoying it fully this summer.  However, I don’t know when the cottage will ever truly be “finished”, and we’re 100% ok with that. With the interior nearly done we can space out projects over the next few years…replace the roof, work on the basement, landscaping, etc.  

2.Explore Cooking

Before Mark switched shifts at work we came a long way in our culinary skills with the help of Plated.  I shared several posts under my food/travel category if you’re interested in our experience.  I have also been focusing on healthier recipes and also plan on going back and recreating some of our favorite meals from Plated.

3.Refresh Living Room

We planned on changing our entire living room around…but did a trial run rearranging all of the furniture and it just didn’t work.   Our current arrangement is the most practical for functionality and appearance.  So we went ahead with a refresh including new lamps, side tables, ottoman & accents.  It is surprising how much those small changes made a big difference.  I plan on posting about that very topic soon…

5.Simplify & Organize

This is definitely a continuous WORK IN PROGRESS.  I have made countless trips to Goodwill over the past year, and I keep a box at all times to put new items to donate in.  I  start the process by asking myself a couple of simple questions…do I NEED this? and/or do I LOVE this? If not, its probably time to let go.

I’ve been using the “1 in 1 out” rule in my wardrobe…for every new piece I add I have to pull out one I haven’t worn in over a year to donate. Focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to new purchases is also making a big difference.  As a starting point, I tried several of the clothing delivery services including: StitchFix, Trendsend, Wantable and Trunk Club.  Anyone interested in hearing more about my experiences with those services? I’d be happy to share.

Overall I am very pleased with all of the progress in 2017 and will continue to work on the same goals in 2018. I look forward to sharing with you this year!

What about you…any big or exciting goals for 2018?



Cottage: Slept In

We ended 2017 with quite a momentous occasion for our little cottage, we slept in it for the VERY FIRST TIME.

It happened somewhat suddenly as frozen pipes discovered in a neighboring cottage and extra room needed at my parents led to this decision at about 11:00 last Saturday night. The bedroom was already 98% done and the bathroom was usable. I had the sheets, blankets and pillows stored away for when we were ready for them so all I had to do was make the bed.

Remaining to do: Find headboard, wall art, finishing touches

The main purpose of this trip was for a family Christmas, but we also hoped to get a little work done. Unfortuntately, Mark ended up getting a nasty cold and was down for the count most of the weekend.  Thankfully, Dad had been working on the bathroom the week prior, so between he and I we finished painting and hung the mirror. Have I mentioned recently how awesome he and my mom are?

Remaining bathroom to-do: Install shelves & hardware, decorate

Dad also helped install a couple of our favorite finds.   First, “The Lake Cottage” weathered metal signs which will be a focal point when you walk in.  Second, this adorable chicken-coop inspired wine rack that we found at a flea market…fun and functional 🙂

Last, but not least, we ended up having a larger propane tank put in a few weeks ago.


Just a few months shy of 2 years since we decided to buy the cottage, and we’re almost ready for our final inspection.

Cottage: Water Works

I am a little behind in posting but over the last week Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping and life in general took precedence. We have some major bathroom progress to share…we have water! (and lights and heat, but you already knew that)

During week leading up to Thanksgiving, the plumbing in the cottage was completed, Dad also set the tile floor in the bathroom. While we were in town for the holiday weekend, Mark & Dad hung the last few pieces of greenboard.


While Dad was working on the tape/mud in the bathroom, Mark and I decided to work on mounting the TV.  The directions said it should take 30 minutes…that was a lie.

We continue to be in awe of how wonderfully everything is coming together.  We are on the home stretch, and should be ready for final occupancy inspection soon.


Then comes the really fun part for me…DECORATING 🙂

Spotlight: Pallet Headboard

If you follow Pinterest, or any DIY sites, there is no doubt you have witnessed the surge of pallet furniture and projects over the last few years.  Why do you think this is? Well first, if you already have the pallets or access to them, your material cost (other than finish) is virtually nothing.  Also, you can have a one of a kind piece that is completely customizable.  Last, let’s not forget the benefits of upcycling.

When a friend mentioned that he was planning on making a pallet headboard for his bed, and another for his niece, I asked (maybe insisted?) that he would let me share his project.  I even offered to help a little.

His headboard was first, and the process pretty simple overall:

  • Disassemble pallet, cut down nails
  • Sand down to desired smoothness
  • Layout pieces, cut to size
  • Stain/paint/and seal
  • Arrange boards & attach to base
  • Attach trim around edges
  • Install/Attach to wall

The disassembling/sanding process was the most labor intensive part.  Caution must be used to avoid cracking or splitting the boards, which can be dry.

This is where I came in…the easy part, helping with the color.  I picked Minwax Classic Gray for the stain and Minwax One Coat Polyurethane to seal.  I played around a little to  get the different finishes (one coat, one coat wiped off, 2 coats, etc).  That combined with the different textures & smoothness of the boards, resulted in some great color variations.

After the stain & poly were dry, he arranged the boards, attached to the base, and put trim around the entire perimeter.

Then it was time to install finished product, turned out great right? Masculine without being too rustic, and a one-of-a-kind piece.

Once his was finished, he repeated the process for a headboard for his niece, this time using white paint he had on hand. I love how just the difference in finish makes them so unique, his niece loves it too.

Now I just need to convince him to make one for me 🙂

Cottage: “Moving Day”

One week ago we loaded up a uhaul with things for the cottage and headed North. Most importantly, THE COUCH made the trip.  I say that with emphasis because I fell in love with this couch the first time I saw it, I knew it would be perfect for the cottage.  We purchased it through a warehouse sale at Lazy Boy, it took about 6 weeks to arrive, and has been sitting at our local store for about 6 weeks because we had nowhere to put it.  Mark picked up the trailer then the couch.  I was unreasonably excited to finally have it in our possession.  I know, it is just a couch, but did I mention that its perfect?  Then we packed in some other furniture, accessories, etc. that I had been accumulating in our spare room over the last several months…luckily everything fit perfectly!

We made the trip Michigan without incident, unloaded everything and still had enough time to enjoy dinner out with Mom & Dad….AND made it to Lowe’s to pick up appliances, butcher block for the countertops and a kitchen sink…it was quite the productive day.

Friday was mostly assembly day.  The main project Mark & Dad worked on was our wardrobe for the bedroom.  It came in approximately 374 pieces, I mostly supervised.  However, I did manage to put together the lamp for the living room and help with the dining table. Once the wardrobe was assembled, I was able to configure the bedroom.  I can measure a space 20 times and try to visualize, but I needed to lay it out in person.

Above are a few sneak peeks.  It was so exciting to see “our stuff” inside the cottage instead of just tools & building materials.  There were several times Mark & I caught ourselves looking around in awe of how far the cottage has come and how good everything has turned out.

Just for fun, below are a couple of scenic pictures from the weekend and one of our current deck furniture.  This little set up may end up being temporary, but it certainly brightens up the front of the cottage and only cost about $20…can’t beat that!


Fall To-Do

desk-notebook-office-greyToday is the first day of fall and it is 90 degrees…IN INDIANA.  This is nonsense.  I am attempting to console myself by focusing on the fact the cooler weather will be here in no time…right? The changing of the seasons usually entails some sort of “to-do” list for me, fall being no exception.  Even though it doesn’t feel like fall today, here are a few things I intend to do in the near future to welcome my favorite season:

  • Fertilize the lawn: When we purchased our house in 2015, the yard was in need of some serious TLC.  It has been a work in progress. Last year fall we appliedScotts Turf Builder WinterGuard Fall pexels-photo-289613Weed & Feed and it seemed to make a big difference with weeds in the Spring, especially dandelions.  The Scotts website has also been very helpful in advising what products to use, when to apply, etc.  (No promo here-just sharing what has worked for us)
  • Prune Bushes: I am still learning how to care for rose bushes, and somehow they are still alive.  Last year I trimmed ALL of our bushes way back and hoped for the best.  Luckily, everything survived, and maybe even thrived? Here’s hoping I have the same luck this time around.
  • Fall cleaning : Pretty much the exact same thing as spring cleaning…a really good, deep-down, whole-house clean that isn’t part of my weekly
  • Switch out wardrobe: I have been making a concentrated effort year-round to pare down my wardrobe, but I am especially focused on this when the seasons change.  I have a few roll-away totes that fit under our bed where I store off-season clothes.  Each time I change them out I sort out any pieces I no longer love or haven’t worn in over a year and set those aside to donate.  The remaining clothes get swapped out between the totes and my closet/dresser.

Lastly, and most importantly…

  • ENJOY THE SEASON: Slow down, be present & soak it in. I want to do all of the “clichéd” fall activities I love…drink hot apple cider while eating a fresh donut, sit by a bonfire in a sweatshirt & jeans, snuggle under a blanket on the couch with Mark & Ruby, take a drive for no other purpose than viewing the changing leaves

    What’s going on at your house this fall? What are your favorite fall activities?

Spotlight: “Side Table” 

You may be wondering…why the quotations in the title? Because this post isn’t actually about a table at all. HOWEVER, this is about the ingenious alternative my mom shared with me last night.  She sent me the pictures below and my first question was, “Can I please share this on my blog?” to which she agreed.

Mom has been on a mission trying to find the perfect side tables to fit in their bedroom. They have a king size bed that is centered under the window and she wanted to have some sort of side table on each side, but there wasn’t much leftover space to work with.  So she came up with this solution…

Two wood & metal storage crates (Meijer) turned sideways & two swing arm lamps & shades (Menards) mounted to the wall on each side of the bed. The shades were plain white so she used paint to match them to their bedroom decor. The crates provide a table surface and storage, while the lamps provide adjustable and individual lighting for reading, etc.

The whole project (including paint) came in just under $150, which is easily less than she may have spent on 2 traditional side tables & lamps.  Can you see where my creativity comes from?  I have already warned her that there is a very good chance I will be copying this idea for our cottage bedroom 🙂