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 routine.holiday-trip-packaging-8434
  • 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 🙂


Spotlight Series

spotlight 1It’s time to share the love!  In addition to my regular topics, I will be posting a series that will showcase the interests, ideas and projects of my family and friends.  Do you remember this post from my Mom? There will be more to come from her and others. I’m fortunate to know so many creative and talented people.

Keep an eye out for these over the next few months!



Patio Progress

To put it simply, our patio was pitiful.  Our last house had a beautiful paver patio with a stone border & custom cedar pergola that we installed over a long weekend with my parents…We LOVED it.  I wanted to bring it all with us somehow when we moved…but we bought a bigger house with a smaller patio.  To no avail, I tried convincing Mark & Dad to at least take the pergola.   The only thing that made the trip was the furniture.  The table & chairs barely fit on the concrete slab, and were rarely used.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with the set, it was just too big for our little patio.  We did put forth an effort at one point to make it look nice…but as you can see below, we gave up.

This summer was the time for change. There were two key factors for us to consider:

  1. Function:  We decided we wanted to use the patio as more of a conversation space than a dedicated dining area.
  2. Scale: We needed furniture that would fit the area comfortably without looking oversized or crowded.

It was also important to incorporate some color to brighten the patio up.  We ended up with a loveseat, 2 armchairs, coffee table & accessories.  We’ve already spent more time this summer enjoying the patio than the last two years combined.  Eventually we may consider installing some type of pergola or sun-sail but for now it is perfect for us to relax, enjoy glass of wine and watch Ruby chase birds.

Furniture & accessories: Lowes ~ Indoor/outdoor rug: Target

Ruby also enjoys relaxing on the patio

Cottage: Lights, cabinets, action! 

We passed our final electrical inspection!  Not that there were any doubts but it is still nice to have out of the way.Mom & Pop have been keeping things moving since our vacation.  The cabinets arrived about a week behind schedule so they didn’t make it in before we left town,  but we knew that was a possibility…better late than never right? They still need to be permanently mounted but just seeing them in place makes a big difference.

We have light! The electrician came last week before the final inspection to install all of the light fixtures.  It is amazing (and incredibly exciting) how quickly things are coming together.  When selecting the lights I had three things in mind: Simple, clean & modern.  All of the natural pine makes for a rustic look and I wanted the lights to help balance that out.

That is all for now…short & sweet. 

 Thanks for stopping by!

TC Treasures

Earlier this week I mentioned that when we were in Michigan for our vacation, we took a break from working on the cottage to visit Traverse City. for a few days  It was somewhat of a do-over for us because the last time we went to Traverse City (first time for Mark) was a few years ago and it wasn’t great.  It had nothing to do with TC per se, but it was cold and rainy for the duration of our stay, we were about 2 weeks too early for the fall color, and our beloved pup Emma was in the early states of kidney failure.

Needless to say we were ready to try again and we were not disappointed in the least.  It was warm, but not humid, with clear blue skies and sunshine  (PERFECT).  Also, since the National Cherry Festival was the week before, and we visited during the week, it wasn’t overly crowded (ALSO PERFECT).  We walked through downtown, visited a few wineries, found some neat antique shops, and ate EVERYTHING.  We had no set schedule or timeline.  It was glorious.

Here are a few favorite pics from our mini vacay

Canal/bay view from downtown shop

Mission Point lighthouse

Bay view @ Hawthorne Winery

Chandeliers @ Jolly Pumpkin

Marina view @ Apache Trout Grill

View of us @ Apache Trout Grill
Now back to the shopping…we are always on the lookout for antiques or other items both for our house and/or the cottage.  And we lucked out with a few unique finds…

Handmade juggling pins from Paris-for our house

Antique golf cart-for our house

Bucket -for the cottage-perfect for bathroom waste bin
What I love the most is that these items all have the memory of our trip to TC tied to them.  So many cool places, and plenty more to check out next time.

Our favorite stops:

Black Star Farms

Wilson Antique Stores (2 TC locations)

Jolly Pumpkin

Apache Trout Grill

Milk & Honey  (so good we had to stop here twice)


Can we go back now?

Have a great weekend!



Cottage: Summer Vacation Edition

As vacations often do, ours felt like it went by far too fast.  We spent last week back in Michigan.  It was a wonderfully busy week that included: working on the cottage, a couple of days in Traverse City (more on that to come soon), horse camp with my niece, golf and time enjoyed with family & friends.  It was a nice mix of productivity and relaxation.

As for the cottage, we focused on hanging the remaining pine boards on the walls and vaulted ceiling.  This was a labor intensive process involving sanding, sealing, then hanging…not to mention the puzzle of measuring & figuring sizes & placements of boards.  That being said…it was COMPLETELY worth it, even with the sweat and sore shoulders.  I am very glad that we (mostly due to Mark’s persuasion) decided to leave the pine boards natural.    We used the poly pictured below that added virtually no color, just a very subtle finish to seal and protect the wood.

The last pieces on the peak still need to go up along with the trim. The cork floor was also installed in the kitchen and living areas, and then covered up for protection as work is still in progress.  WE LOVE IT.

As a little side project, I painted these oars from my Uncle for future wall art.

After we headed back to Indiana, I received these pictures the next day…Dad & Mom finished the remaining cork floor in the bedroom…they are THE BEST

The kitchen cabinets were ordered but didn’t arrive in time for us to pick up and install during this trip.  Despite that, we made great progress. My head has been swirling thinking about how everything is going to look all put together…it’s getting closer!

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