walmart maxi dress

Yesterday we took a long drive down into the nearest big town to search for some vegan food options and we stopped in at Walmart.  It's been 9 weeks since I stepped into any kind of store other than a grocery store so even though it was a Walmart I was pretty thrilled.  I found this maxi dress marked down to $9.  The quality is quite high for that price.  The cotton fabric is soft and comfortable and thick enough that it isn't see-through but light enough for summer.  We are meeting some ski friends for dinner tonight for tacos and a stroll through the farmers market.  I'm really looking forward to getting out and a bit of socializing.  So anyway, I just wanted to pass this bargain on to you.  You can see the color combinations here. In person they were all pretty.  Online it is $13 but in the store it is $9.  Either price is great. x


forest bathing

By far the best activity for us in Utah has been the hiking.  Getting out of the condo 2 or 3 times a day for a hike has saved my sanity.  It isn't easy molding your life into another's and so the break in the days have been a Godsend.  It is the main activity of each day and has helped me in ways I never imagined.

We generally do a morning, afternoon and evening hike. We just head out the front door in any direction and see where it takes us.  We usually follow deer paths and find ourselves deep in the forest. The Japanese have done extensive studies on the benefits of hiking in the wilderness which they call Shinrin Yoku.  The basic premise is this...

Go to a Forest. Walk slowly. Breathe. Open all your senses.
This is the healing way of Shinrin-yoku Forest Therapy,
the medicine of simply being in the forest.

The proven benefits include...

  • Boosted immune system functioning, with an increase in the count of the body's Natural Killer (NK) cells.
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Improved mood
  • Increased ability to focus, even in children with ADHD
  • Accelerated recovery from surgery or illness
  • Increased energy level
  • Improved sleep
Just as impressive are the results that we are experiencing as we make this part of our regular practice:
  • Deeper and clearer intuition
  • Increased flow of energy
  • Increased capacity to communicate with the land and its species
  • Increased flow of eros/life force
  • Deepening of friendships
  • Overall increase in sense of happiness

Isn't that lovely?  So instead of a hike, go for a bath in the forest and absorb all the natural beauty and healing effects of nature.  For some inspiration take a look at this little video


cooking non-vegan

One of the challenges of living up here and caring for my father-in-law is the issue of cooking.  I cannot expect him to eat a vegan diet after being a hard-core meat eater for 85 years.  When we first got here we saw he was relying on box and frozen dinners, which are convenient but not super healthy.  So my goal was to infuse his diet with tons of fresh produce and as many vitamins I could shove into each meal.

His favorite meals are casserole type and anything with gravy on it. So I made my favorite mushroom gravy recipe using fresh roasted mushrooms and I added in a little red wine in place of some of the vegetable broth. My favorite culinary instructor always told me the sign of a good gravy is one you could eat as a soup.

For his meal I sauteed some thinly sliced pork chops, seasoned them with salt and pepper and tiny bit of garlic powder.  When they were almost finished I poured some gravy in and simmered them for a minute or two and then served them over mashed potatoes with a side of broccoli.  He loved it...but the next morning told me it wasn't his favorite.  Ok.

About once a week we make a trek down to the library to stock up on books for the week.  I picked up this book and loved it.  They have great taste and I love anything with the word ordinary in it.

I adore this vintage apron one of the authors is wearing and I want it.  I love this whole outfit.

It snowed a few days ago and out of sheer boredom cut up a Trader Joe's shopping bag and covered an old shoe box and decoupaged this hunter character onto the top of it.  In my defense, the power was out.  x



Road leading to father-in-law's house

Hello, just checking in here.  For the last month we've been living in Utah helping Ls dad. He's 84 and starting to need a little extra help.  His condo has 3 stories so lugging groceries up and trash down is getting harder for him.  

This is the little cluster of homes where he lives.  A couple dozen at most and he is one of about 6 year round residents.  Days and days go by without seeing anyone.  There is only one thing up here and that is a ski resort.  Not a store or any other business at all.  8000 feet of elevation and a little isolated right?!

We have hiked each day in all kinds of weather.

While we rarely see other people we do see tons of wildlife.  We came upon this tiny deer who was without its mother. Poor thing was scared to death.

Our hikes have been spectacular

I've also been working on freshening up our bedroom.  His father moved here 15 years ago and ordered all the oak furniture at one place in one day.  So since we know we will be spending more and more time here, I've been hitting up the thrift store down in town.  I've found some cool things....

Blue and white notebook c/o The Polished Pebble - Thanks Kelley

This little french table was $10. I painted it navy blue and love it. The ginger-jar lamp was $10 and just needed cleaning.  The shade was $2 and I added the black ribbon trim.

This little bookcase was in the garage so I painted it black and drug it upstairs.  I brought the maidenhair fern from the Country Living shoot with me 700 miles.  I just couldn't leave it.  So all in all, even though I miss my house, life here has been very quiet and good.  I've always fantasized about being a hermit and this is as close as I will probably ever come to it.  And I will say...I do like it.


blue and white

While I love lots of color combinations, blue and white is probably my favorite.  There is something clean and fresh about it that reminds me of summer.  Right before Country Living came, Melinda and I quickly stitched up a little white canvas slipcover for the ottoman which will surely see lots of barefoot feet this season. You may notice the pre-WWII platters that I recently picked up at a yard sale for $1 each.  As I was leaving the lady in charge shouted out to me, "The platters are good for steak and corn on the cob!"  Gosh I love yard sales.

I really liked the way the room looked and thought CL would too.  Turns out they had their own vision for the room which was fun to watch them put together.  We will all have to wait and see what they came up with....but in the meantime, it's back to blue and white for summer living.

Have a beautiful holiday weekend and be well.  x


country living photo shoot

Hello everyone, long time, right?!  Country Living was here and gone in 4 days and what a 4 days it was.  The above photo is just about half the props that were brought in to shoot the house.  Can you believe that?!  While I'm not allowed to show any interior shots of the house that I took, I can show you this photo of just some of the things that were brought in.  It's apparent they thought my house needed more stuff. :)

I'm not going to lie, when I saw all this I had a slight panic attack.  But no worries, it all worked out. In the end, only a couple of lamps, pillows and other small accessories were used.  Under the guidance of stylist Janna Lufkin, her beautiful assistant Carolyn and the talented and charming photographer Roger Davies, the house looked incredible.  Janna has a sharp eye for style which you can see here on her Pinterest page.  Roger Davies has photographed some of the most beautiful homes in the world.  I am so pleased and humbled that he shot my house.  He is a fellow small home owner and prefers living in a cozy little home too.  Like I said, most of what they brought were pillows, towels and small accessories. They over-buy to be sure they have enough and also so they can play with different ideas.  They used all my stuff in ways I never thought to display it which was so interesting and cool to watch.  They were both great at styling, which by the way has nothing to do with the way you actually live in a house.  It's a very slow process of setting up each shot, getting it just right and then sending it to the editors at CL and getting their approval before moving on to the next shot.  They really have so much patience.

I think you are going to love the way it all comes out but we have to wait all the way til next Spring or Summer before it will be published! 


alex and b's renovation

I thought I'd bring you in on A and B's renovation of a 1940's California ranch/bungalow.  It has come a long way since they started just a few weeks ago.  There are no after pictures yet.  They along with B's dad have been working tirelessly every day trying to get the house ready.

As you can see, they need to get this thing finished and moved in because they need to set up a nursery. :)

The original mailbox was probably the cutest thing about the house.

Here is the before shot of the living room.  It actually does not look that bad here, but in real life the floors were covered in a thick gummy dirt, the walls were filthy and the whole house was overrun with cockroaches.

A look into the dining room

The kitchen had to be gutted because of the sinking floor.

Same with the bathroom.  

This will be B's sewing room.

This girl does not stop!  There isn't anything she won't do. After photos will be coming...


my little black house

Well here it is.  Up until a few days ago everyone knew this house as the little red house in the park. Now it's the little black house in the park.

So far we haven't heard a negative thing about the color change.  Everyone that walks by has given a positive shout out.  The neighbors have not said a word either way so who knows what they really think?!  The important thing is that the house desperately needed painting and it's done and we love pulling into the driveway now.  It has a cape-cod feel now and the shingles really stand out.

This is the back step area. Larry added the porch railing and we painted the old light fixture red.  You never even really noticed the railing on the roof before either.  Now it stands out and looks great. Overall I think it came out well.  We spent right about $500 on paint and supplies.  A huge saving from the $3-5k estimates we received.

In other news...

I cannot ever thank you enough for your prayers and well-wishes for Melinda.  She underwent her chemotherapy last week and is emerging with flying colors!  She was warned that she would have skin lesions but has come away with none.  She is SO strong, you wouldn't believe it.  She is going for short walks and continues to be positive and serene.  She actually cheers me up!  I love her so much and can never pay you back for your love and prayers.  Really, you are the best.

And in other news...

We've been helping Alex and B renovate a 1940's house and it is coming out so nicely.  I can't wait to share photos with you about that whole adventure.

And in other, other news...

Country Living magazine is planning on shooting my house.  A big thank you to Catherine for submitting me.:)

So that's all.  Thank you again for your prayers and have an outstanding weekend.  xo


roses and prayers please....

For anyone who likes looking at pictures  of old rose gardens...

Melinda and I 

If I may ask anyone reading, if you believe in the power of prayer, we could really use them for my dear, dear friend Melinda.  If you've been reading for awhile then you know that back in May of 2011 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer because by the time symptoms present themselves it is usually already in the late stages. That was the case with Melinda.  She has been through 2 rounds of Chemo and has been doing SO well.  But last week things suddenly took a turn for the worse.  Your prayers and good thoughts would be so appreciated.  Thank you so much.

Here are the warning signs of ovarian cancer.

Take care and have a beautiful weekend.  x


painting questions answered

Our house from our neighbors backyard.

Good morning.  I'm laying in bed with the laptop and after 11 days straight of prepping and painting my body is really feeling it.  My tendinitis is screaming for relief.  It's so hard to not use your right arm and so I'm paying the price.  But anyway I thought while laying here enjoying this slow morning, I'd answer all the questions you guys have about the painting and the color.  First off lets start start with my inspiration ideas...

Way back on my Garden Tour trip to England, when I first laid my eyes on this gorgeous office addition that Ashley Hicks made to the family home, The Grove, it took my breath away. If you have a few minutes and want to transport yourself back to England, click here. It was a long, freezing cold wet day and it was getting close to dusk but when we rounded the corner and saw this I lit up.  I was walking with Faux Fuschia  and Romy and said, "That's it, I'm painting my house black."  That was 2 years ago and in the interim I have flirted with white and pink but I'm so glad I stuck to my original inspiration.

This is a house I found on Pinterest and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it is painted Black Bean Soup too. This is really close to what ours is now.  I adore it.

When I showed these pictures to Dave at Redlands Paint, he said, "You realize these are not pure black houses right?"  I didn't.  He recommended the Black Bean Soup right away and we took a test pot home and loved it.  He was right.  A pure black house would be a bit too harsh for me.

Lots of you are wondering if the floor is painted or if it's a rug.  It's paint.  I painted it several years ago and would like to change the paint and pattern, but am not sure what I want.  Besides I have bigger fish to fry right now (getting the house painted!) so that can wait.

Also my dear friend from Australia, Pammie has asked if us American's really do use our porches. For me the answer is a most definite yes.  This little porch gets used almost daily.  It's perfectly situated to watch the sunrise.  On cold winter mornings I'll bundle up in my comforter too.  During the spring and summer we almost always eat lunch here. Almost all my neighbors use their porches too.  So you may want to ring in on that in the comments.  And speaking of neighbors, so far no one has complained but I'm not sure they have noticed.  We are somewhat tucked back off the street so it may take some time.  But the walkers who have passed by have shouted out their compliments so that's been exciting to hear their reactions.  So far so good!

my friend, GSL wanted to know how many man-hours we have into it so far.  Larry estimates between the two of us, somewhere around 50ish.  We are still not finished but probably will be in 2 or 3 days.  The hardest parts are done.  And by hardest parts I mean the shingles.  As you can see in the above photo, each shingle has to be brushed on each side, top and bottom.  It's tedious work for sure.  Larry has worked tirelessly in the prep and painting.  The prep involved scraping, sanding and a good wash.

My job has been to paint everything low and keep us well fed and hydrated.

Also, there was a question or two about the cost of the paint.  I thought we were going to come in at around $300 total but yesterday I went back to the paint store and got another gallon of the Black Bean and one more gallon of Simply White for the trim.  If you buy 5 gallons at a time the price is significantly discounted.  Individual gallons cost a lot more.  So in the end it will cost almost $400 for supplies.  Which is still a great savings.  Plus, to be honest, it's been really good for us to do a big project like this again as a team.  It's been good for our marriage. :)

In a few days the roses will be open and I'll take some pictures of the house as it relates to the garden now.  See you soon and have a peaceful Sunday.  x