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!


Simple Switches

As of late, my decorating focus has been primarily on our cottage, but I haven’t completely neglected our house.  I decided to do some “refreshing” for Spring several weeks ago with a few simple switches…yet again, I am late in posting this…c’est la vie!

I didn’t have to spend a lot of time or money to make a difference.  I just swapped out a few accessories and accents with lighter colors, patterns and textures to brighten up a few areas of our home.  However, think I must have picked the WORST time of day as far as lighting to take the pictures, but I’m sure you get the idea

Before                                                                                             After 

As you can see, none of these switches were ground breaking or dramatic.  It was just enough to lighten up our living area and reflect the change in seasons.  You can make changes without having to do anything drastic or expensive.  As is often the case, simple can be better.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cottage: Memorial Weekend

Once again, I feel like I am a little tardy with this update, but better late than never right?  Over Memorial Day Weekend we were back in Michigan working on the cottage and were able to get A LOT accomplished while still having time to enjoy visiting with friends and family.

Mark and Dad finished installing the pine boards on the “main” wall in the living room.  Then Mark and I went back and forth approximately 753 times on whether to leave it natural or white wash…finally landed on natural.  This wood is too pretty to mess with, so we’ll just add a light satin coat of poly to protect it.

We reached a big milestone….PAINT!  All of the walls, with the exception of the bathroom were primed and then painted.  VERY. EXCITING. STUFF.  For the living room and kitchen we chose Shark Loop by Valspar.  The bedroom and the bathroom are on the small side so we wanted to keep those two lighter and selected Ghost Ship.

Even though we decided to keep the pine wood natural in the living room, we decided to white wash the pine boards for the bedroom ceiling to help keep it light and bright.  I put on one coat of Minwax White Wash Pickling which will also be followed by a light poly coat to seal.

Last, but not least, I had a little help from this cutie touching up some of the exterior img_8920paint on the block foundation.  She is a very good helper and I’ll take any excuse I can get to hang out with her.

Our next scheduled trip is in July, at which time we’ll be able to stay for an entire week for our vacation.

Stay Tuned!

Cottage: Onward!

FINALLY over Easter weekend were back in Michigan to work on our cottage after what felt like a long hiatus for the two of us.  In addition to Mom & Dad, we were fortunate enough to have some extra help from our friends, Stephanie & Aaron.

We ended up dividing & conquering between our cottage and our cousin’s that is also undergoing the renovation process.  At our cottage the drywall was taped and mudded, then we started installing the pine boards on the main wall, which will eventually go on the ceiling as well. It is ironic how much effort goes into making something like that look random, but it will be BEAUTIFUL!


 While we all  worked, Ruby hunted moles…everyone has their talents

Another important step was nailing down some selections…which  can feel like the hardest part.  Looking at samples from a distance isn’t nearly the same as testing them on site with the light, flooring choice (For the love of cork), etc.  After trying a few finishes on the pine boards, and painting a couple of color swatches…we have winners!… Now I just have to avoid the paint section at Lowe’s so I don’t begin to second guess myself.


In addition to working, we were able to spend time with family & friends we don’t get to see often enough, a reminder of why we are doing this.  As usual, Mom outdid herself keeping everyone fed (Remember this? Mom, The Gracious Hostess)  We even had time at the end of the day to enjoy a few beers and s’mores around the first bonfire of the year for all of us.

Good company & good times all around!

Special Guest: Mom, The Family Gardener

Last week was typical March week, snowy and windy but with sun and 50s over the weekend. For the past month or so every warm and sunny day makes me eager for Spring gardening.  I’m Jeanette, Becky’s mom, and six weeks or so ago we talked about me doing a guest post for By The Poole.  Becky and I are alike in many ways, we definitely share an organizing gene, but my love of playing in the dirt and making  things grow seems to be a mine alone.

I’m not an authority on gardening.  Although I have several books on gardening and toolssubscribe to Better Homes and Gardens for the plant section, for the most part I rely on the information on the back of seed packets and the plastic stakes in potted plants.   As a matter of fact most of what you need to know to successfully grow a plant is there.  Packets and stakes tell you when to plant, how deep, how tall the plant will grow, whether it needs a sunny or shady location, when you can expect it to bloom (or be ready to pick for vegetables), how much water it needs, what kind of soil is best and even a picture of what it will look like.

While I pay attention to that information, I also believe growing plants is a bit like raising children: Try something, if it works do it again, if not do something different and don’t expect the same thing to work for all of them.  My brother once bought a house with flowers all around it and decided he didn’t want all of those flowers;  another time my tools 2husband, Fred, and I had the chance to get a number of plants that were being removed from a construction site .  There were no instructions either time, so I just brought them home and put them in the ground, watched to see how they did and later moved the ones that didn’t seem to like where I put them at first.   Plants are pretty forgiving if you pay attention and will sort of tell you when something is wrong—plants that need to be in the shade will look burned and droopy in the direct sun and sun lovers get spindly in the shade.  I lose a few every now and then but most plants want to grow and make the best of where they are planted even if it’s not ideal.

Before I move on, I should explain the two main kinds of plants. Annuals just grow for one season.  Most vegetables and often the most colorful flower are annuals.  Annuals are grown from seeds or found in fairly inexpensive trays or flats at garden centers.   gardening 1Perennials can be grown from seed but are more often purchased by the pot or shared by a friend who divides a clump that has grown too big and unless there is a problem they grow from year to year often spreading into larger clumps.  I like to have some of each in my garden.  I rely on the perennials and bulbs I’ve planted in the past to get my garden started then add annuals a tray or a flat at a time for splashes of color as time permits.  A mixture of the two as well as mixing vegetables and flowers can result in a pretty and interesting garden and some plants do double duty.  One year I was given some okra someone had started from seeds and while I’m not a fan of okra it had beautiful flowers.

Some of my favorite sun loving annuals are zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums, asters and sunflowers. I always buy a few different kinds of impatiens and begonias for the shady areas.   The backbones of my perennials are shade loving hostas in a large variety of leaf colors and patterns,  and sun lovers including stella d’oro lilies (these are the yellow lilies you see in the landscaping at many fast food restaurants), black eyed susans, daisies and balloon flowers.  I also have some chrysanthemums for fall color.

If, like me, you just can’t wait until it’s really time to plant most things, buy a flat or pot of pansies as soon as you see them in the garden centers and put them by the door you use the most often.  They are so cheerful and can stand the cooler temperatures that come, particularly at night, in early spring.    Books, blogs, and websites abound to answer your question and help you get started, but nothing beats a walk through a garden center to get you in the gardening mood.  Happy gardening!











Spring Desk Decor

Spring is officially here, even if the past couple days haven’t felt like it.  However, I decided it was still the perfect time to refresh my desk space in honor of the season change.  I spend the better part of 8 hours a day Mon-Fri at my desk, why not make it pretty?  Amidst the computer stuff, paperwork, files, & office supplies it is nice to be able to look over and see my own personal “nook” with the following items…img_8624

  • Cute framed print  from Target (only $3!)
  • Photo collage of  me & Mark from Shutterfly
  • Two small succulents in geometric containers
  • Sweet Magnolia scented soy candle (also from Target)
  • Stress Relief hand sanitizer from B&BW
  • Dionis Blue Ridge Wildflower hand cream
  • Fun, printed tissue box (generic brand)

In the future I plan on changing out a few of the items from time to time to reflect the seasons…or whenever I get bored with it.

Do you get to personalize your workspace? What are your favorite items to have at your desk?

Cottage: Behind the Scenes

It am a little overdue on a Cottage update, other than my recent post (For the love of cork) about our flooring choice, which I think counts as half credit.img_8633

Mark & I  haven’t been back up there to work since last fall but there has been plenty of planning on our end and other things going on behind the scenes so to speak.  Dad has been handling getting all utilities squared away and last month we passed our mechanical inspection!  New furnace, new wiring, new plumbing, propane tank connected…how’s that for progress!?

Also, last weekend Dad picked up the beautiful pine boards pictured below from a local Amish man he has worked with on past projects.   These will be finished with a white wash and installed instead of drywall on our ceilings and one large accent wall in the living room…this is one of the elements for the Cottage I am most excited about.

Mark & I will be headed up there over Easter weekend and we can’t wait to get our hands dirty again.  Between Mark changing jobs, my surgery, Holidays, and life in general we have missed working on the cottage these last few months and are ready to get back to it!

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