Things have been really quiet here on the blog, because things in real life have been anything but. Life is full of seasons, and some are more challenging than others. I won't lie. It's been a cruel, cruel summer so far. (Hey. You might as well sing some 80's Bananarama in the midst of it all, right?!)
So for any friends and/or family interested in keeping up with all things "Us"...
The Roof - We knew when we bought our house three years ago that we would have repairs and work to do. The major-est of the majors? A roof replacement. We noticed leaks, disintegrating asphalt shingles, and got put on a one-year waiting list with a local company for a replacement. This past late spring our number came up. And it has been up ever since.
What should have taken 2-3 days to complete, is now at day 57. Eight weeks. And it is still not finished. I will try to take the high road here, but it has been eight weeks of misordered materials, damaged materials, miscut materials, leaks which have resulted in water coming into our attic and home (we found seven in all), lies from the contractor and crews, no shows from contractor and crews, more running out of materials, more incorrect materials ordered. It will be at least another week before they will be finished. (We were told today that our gutter materials won't arrive until Thursday afternoon, and they don't work on Fridays. They might be able to come out next Monday. Or Tuesday. Maybe.)
John has had to research so much in and through this process that he wishes he had installed the roof himself. And you know what? He could have. And he would have been finished long before now. He has had to get up on the roof (twice in the rain) to try to patch places were the water kept coming in. He has been up and down, in and out of our attic more times than I can count. Our neighbor, a long-time Steamboat resident, shook his head and confirmed: this is the trade off of living in a ski resort town in the middle of nowhere. His wife smiled sadly and said, "Welcome to Steamboat!" Once the roofing crew is done, John will then begin the task of repairing the water damage from the leaks.
I told John this is what the ninth month of pregnancy feels like. You stand there and think, "This is never. going. to. end." Good times!
The Penalty Points - So Emma has discovered Taylor Swift. She has about a dozen or so songs on her MP3 player that she brings with her whenever she and I get into the car to go somewhere. After hearing said songs about a million times, I know them pretty well myself. If anyone knows me well, they know that I sing. All the time. Anywhere. It's a stress reliever, a mood lifter, and it's just fun, okay?
Emma decided that she doesn't want me to sing along to Taylor Swift in the car anymore. I tried to be good, honest I did. But that kid has NO IDEA the massive amounts of self-control I must tap into to keep my mouth shut. I negotiated a compromise: I am allowed to sing one line from each song. Just one. That's it. Whenever I sing it, she invariably tells me, "That was your one line, Mom. That's it. No more."
This week I made the mistake of belting out a second line. (It was "Mean". I couldn't help it.) "GASP! Mom! You already sang your one line! Now I'm going to have to give you a Penalty Point!" Penalty Point??? When did Penalty Points become a part of this deal? I didn't agree to this.
I quit singing and started dancing from the waist up instead. (Because it was now "Shake It Off".) "Mom, no dancing!" "But it's THIS song!" I told her. She wouldn't budge. Then she took a preemptive strike. "And no lip syncing!" I racked up four Penalty Points by the time we got home.
Life is so unfair.
The Feels - Perimenopause is for the birds. And that's all I'm going to say about that. Otherwise, I might start crying. Again.
The Shower Stall - I meant to share pics and post about this last summer when John was working on it, but it didn't happen. My bad. You might remember from this older post that when we bought our house, our master bathroom was in need of repair. We haven't completed all of those projects yet, but last summer John completed a big one: the shower stall.
After doing the demo, he discovered that the shower had been leaking for a long time. (More leaks!) The floor joists and subfloor were rotted. After replacing those, he installed the Schluter-Kerdi shower system (which he highly recommends!), took a deep breath, and did his first tiling job ever. I think he knocked it out of the park! We chose large tiles set in a brick pattern for the walls, two white shelves for the corner, and flat stone mosaic for the floor. That stone floor is my favorite.
We priced a replacement glass door, but that was not jiving at all with our budget. I found an extra long shower curtain liner and a spa-like white extra long shower curtain on Amazon.com to use instead. They work wonderfully, and I actually like it just as is. The curtain softens up the hard lines of the tile, I think. The chrome shower curtain rod, shower head, and valve handle were all affordable options on Amazon, as well.
John picks apart the work he did, but can I brag on him? It is gorgeous. Just beautiful. He did a great job, and I think it is the best shower ever. He never ceases to amaze me.
The Needs - I started this year with a business venture, and it has been an amazing experience so far. Difficult, but amazing in that I have learned so much about all things business and taxes and such, about myself, about my family, about my needs. I am challenged to really hone in on what my priorities need to be. I am challenged to take better care of myself.
I am lucky to have three amazing easygoing kids and a husband that encourages me to do things to treat myself. Trouble is, I usually don't. I am perfectly happy to take the backseat. John calls it the Chicken Neck Phenomenon. The mother takes the time to go to the store to pick out a whole chicken to feed her family. She lovingly seasons and trusses and roasts the chicken. When the family sits down to dinner, she sees to everyone else's needs. To make sure everyone gets what she thinks is enough, she looks at the chicken carcass left on the platter and says with a smile, "Oh, I'll just have the neck! I really wanted the neck anyway!" (Unless there's chocolate involved. I always take my fair share of chocolate!)
Am I alone in this? Self-care just doesn't come naturally to me. But I find myself in a season of life where I am seeing how important it is for me to be kind to myself. To give to myself, not just to others. Maybe it comes from my personality. Maybe it comes from being the firstborn child in a large family. Maybe it is, quite honestly, bad theology that teaches the sin of self. A teaching that ignores the importance of setting limits, or the importance of protecting oneself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. (Just thinking out loud here.) I understand that in a narcissistic and selfish society such as ours, caring for others in so vitally important, it's just that I also understand that, for me, things can get out of balance.
I think I'll make myself a hair appointment and read a good long book. :)
The Little Things - The best things so far this summer have been the little unexpected gifts. A day full of tears (see The Feels above) is the same day that the first Rufus hummingbird of the season shows up hovering right outside my bedroom window. A little personal reminder that God sees me. I am known by Him. He keeps me in the palm of His hand. It will all be alright.
Because we can't mow a lawn piled up with metal panels and construction materials, daisies are allowed to grow wild all over the backyard. I never realized until this summer that they grow there.
John and I take a walk down one of the hiking trails, and with every step I take, little yellow butterflies flit and flutter up from the grass and fly all around me.
The foxes walk through the yard regularly and stop and stare while I try to engage them in conversation. (I have decided that if I ever go to a Native American naming ceremony, I will ask to be called Talks With Foxes.)
A bear (A BEAR!) hung around our yard for 24 hours last month. He brought with him respite from roof drama and excitement for weary souls. Oh, I wish I could've hugged him. I feel quite certain he would have welcomed it.
A deer eats sarvis berries from our bushes. When she sees me at the window taking pictures, she turns and faces me for a photo op. I talk to her through the window, and she steps closer to listen. (The animals around here make me feel like I am living in a classic Disney Princess movie!)
John calls us out to the deck to watch bats flying overhead, their wings flapping erratically against the dusky blue sky. Emma giggles as I squeal when one flies right in front of us.
The roses bloomed and bloomed this year after their pruning from last. I walked through the flower beds every day, noticing every new leaf, every new bud, touching every stem, pulling every new weed, feeding every plant. I practically hovered and mothered over it all. I was thinking as I walked through the roses one day that this is my Heavenly Father's way with me. "The Lord will perfect all that concerns me." Not perfect (the adjective), as in perfectionism, but perfect (the verb), as in complete. He notices every detail, every change in growth, every hurt, every joy. He feeds and waters. He gives wisdom. He comforts and heals. He sends a meteor to blaze across the midnight sky for me to see at the exact moment I look out the window one last time as I climb into bed.
The same God that hovers over me and my small concerns, hovers over all of creation and hears its cries for peace, for hope. Life is hard, but God is good. <3
This is the longest that the snow has waited to fall in autumn since we moved here two and a half years ago. It has been warm. Gloriously warm and mostly full of sunshine. The last of the Palisades peaches have been made into jam and canned. The autumn decor has warmed up the house. (I think this house is at its very best in autumn.) School has started back up, along with weekly visits to the library. A birthday (my 45th!) and an anniversary have been celebrated (our 16th!). Winter preparations have been under way. Dead aspens have been cut down to protect the house from falling trees in the winter winds. (Did you know that Aspens are actually considered weeds here? Best weeds ever!)
The animals are everywhere, though the last of the hummingbirds have been gone for weeks now. John and I have been awakened every night by the sound of deer and skunks (and foxes?) crunching through the fallen aspen leaves in our backyard. Two nights this week we heard the sound of two bucks sparring, their antlers crashing and clashing. We still sleep with the windows open, hoping and waiting for the colder temperatures to come.
The fall colors have peaked, muted in comparison to the last two years, but the golden veins of color are always just about the most beautiful sight in the world to me. The ground is wheat colored, the bark of the Aspen trees light gray on the mountains. The chipmunks have gathered the last of the withering sarvis berries from our bushes. Busy with autumn things. Waiting for winter things. Everything and everyone waits and waits for snow.
Life is full. School to teach, laundry to fold, meals to cook, leaves to rake, stitches to knit, books to read, fabric to quilt, a house to winterize, relationships to nurture. Things get left undone. Always. I will hold myself to a standard of grace, not perfection. Today I thank God for seasons.
“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.” —Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
20 Projects. A collection of 20 unfinished sewing projects that I discovered stashed away in my sewing room while packing up to move from Texas to Colorado.
Trying to play "catch up" on blog posts after taking some time away from it this spring! Mud season and a very rainy month of May meant extra time spent in the sewing room. I'm still trying to make good on my New Year's Resolution of finishing up my 20 Projects. Here are three more checked off the list...
Project 9: Put a Bird on It
I cross-stitched this sweet bird pattern a few years ago with the intention of using it to decorate Emma's room in Texas. (Don't you love how this craft is making a comeback?) Emma chose the fabrics, and I chose the pillow pattern: a simple churn and dash quilt block with the birdies placed in the center. I used simple straight line and cross-hatch quilting on the block.
Project 10: Dream Big
I am a big fan of all things Bonnie & Camille. Ever since I made myself a version of Camille Roskelley's Dream Big Pillow for my sewing room (done in Bliss Moda fabric below), Emma has wanted one of her own for her bedroom. The pattern comes from Camille's book Simplify. I got a lot of inspiration from Kristyne from Pretty By Hand's version here. I loved the checkerboard effect she created by alternating with white fabric squares throughout.
Project 11: Daisy the Dachshund
We had two little miniature doxies in Texas. LOVE those little dogs! So full of personality. Emma and I got as far as buying the "milo & moxie" pattern (by Retro Mama, here) and choosing fabrics before we packed up and moved. It was just as well...she ended up choosing different fabrics when we pulled the project back out a few months ago. :) She initially wanted the boy, but then decided on the girl. We decided to add a felt flower, attached with a little button, at Daisy's ear.
Another corner of her room decorated. Three more projects done. Over halfway there!!!
win-ter-ize: verb to make ready for winter or winter use, and especially resistant or proof against winter weather.
Last autumn, whenever a Local heard that we had never lived through a Steamboat winter, his or her eyes would get big, and he or she would smile a knowing smile. "Just wait," we would hear time and again. Then, at the end of last winter when feet and feet of snow melted to form running streams, the comments turned more positive. "You made it!" "You're Locals for sure now!" And I loved that. I made it. I'm a Local. A Coloradan.
Last year, the irises froze under fallen snow. This year, I learned that I am supposed to cut them back.
Last year, we had to sit the ski season out after buying a house. This year, rented skis are hanging in the garage on a wooden rack that John built from leftover bunk room lumber. Austin's snowboard, boots, and bindings will join them in a couple of weeks.
Last year, we learned how much propane it takes to heat house and home. This year, hopefully, we are better prepared.
Last year, even though I was warm and toasty in all of my layers and hats and snowboots, my fingers froze. Painfully so. This year I am making some Fair Isle knit "warm woolen mittens" lined with cashmere. (Eep!) The yarn was a Christmas present from John to me last year. I am just getting around to knitting with it. Just getting over my fear of colorwork. Now I want to knit everything Fair Isle.
Mountain bikes have been cleaned, maintained, and put away. The fireplace has been dusted and polished. I am looking through soup recipes. The kids need new thermal underwear. We're almost ready.
Our much-desired mudroom has been reworked. Don't you love that "Before" picture? Real life. Real mess. Real disorganization. John kept saying he thought he could make the space more efficient, so he took down all of the shelving and covered the walls with a fresh coat of paint to start with a blank slate. We discovered that the back wall had never been finished out with a baseboard, so he cut one to length, and...nailed the baseboard right into a copper water pipe.
"Lisa!" he called me. "Listen! Do you hear that? I think I hit something!" Yep. We found the trickle of water running out down under the floor, down the basement ceiling, down the concrete wall in the mechanical room, and into a puddle on the concrete floor. It could have been so, so much worse. The original builders hadn't placed the pipe away from the sheetrock as they were supposed to have. Now after watching a few YouTube videos, John knows how to repair water pipes. That amazing man. I am one lucky girl.
He repaired the wall and left himself an access. (He likes to check that his repair is good and isn't leaking.) The baseboard went back on, the old shelving repurposed into a different and more efficient configuration. Once we can purchase and hang a few hooks on the back wall, we will have another house project completed. Soon it will see constant use. Wet snow boots, jackets, and gloves. For now I have a clean mudroom, and a picture on the blog to document it. Ha!
Snow is in the forecast for Monday. Winter is coming. I still can't believe how quickly autumn passes here. I have promised the kids a Snow Day from school when the first good, big snowstorm hits. I hope I never lose the anticipation I feel in October for the snow. I had better not. 'Cause I'm a Local now.
Almost finished. (Just a few little decorating details here and there and two more mattresses to purchase.) Company ready. (We've had visitors!) And now blog ready. (But please cut me a little slack on the pictures. My indoor-room-without-a-source-of-natural-light photography skills are nil.)
If you need to catch up on The Bunk Room posts, Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. And just a warning: this is a long post. (My longest post to date, in fact, but I would rather finish this up project than have several more posts on it.)
We took inspiration for the room from the old Western Stagecoaches, which used to run through Colorado, primarily in the 1800's.
We are so excited to have these six bunks finished! We chose simple, white bedding for the sheets and coverlets and topped each bunk with a western-inspired, red-striped throw pillow.
This bunk room (found on Pinterest) served as the inspiration:
Each bunk also has a shelf at the headboard for each guest to set keys, a wallet, cellphone, watch, etc. The vintage-inspired lanterns and tin signs were all found on amazon.com.
The Big Bed
Six bunks for the kiddos and a queen-sized bed for their parents. John built and stained the bed frame in the garage, took it apart, brought it inside, and reassembled it in place.
Pinterest provided the inspiration yet again:
John designed the bed frame to have 14 inches of clearance underneath for guests to stow their luggage in order to keep the floor space open.
We went with the same white bedding as we used on the bunks. I made pillow covers for three large, square pillows from a white sheet and ordered the cowhide pillow cover from an Etsy shop, InteriorLuxuries.
The End Tables
There is very little room on either side of the bed, so John stepped up to the plate (again) and offered to build the end tables. They needed to be tall enough for the bed, and I wanted them to have shelves for selected books.
Rather than use the same stain for the tables as we had used on the beds, we decided to go with something lighter, and for our tastes, a bit more whimsical. We went with a bright blue stain, which took me a bit out of my comfort zone. It turned out to match exactly the light, bright blue in the bed's quilt. I'm so glad we gave it a shot! The color is best represented in the second "End Table" picture above.
The end table shelves hold selected books with western or Colorado themes. There is a shelf with picture books, an interactive story book, and a couple of Nancy Drew mysteries for the kids. Another shelf contains the entire Lumby series. (Oh, my goodness. One day I will write an entire blog post about Lumby.)
On the other side of the bed you can find a group of books about life in the Old West, in addition to Ree Drummond's story The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - A Love Story. My sweet sister-in-law, Melanie, stood in line for hours at a bookstore one day to meet Ree and surprise me with a signed copy. Truly one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received.
And last, but certainly not least, is a memento of John's young adulthood. John's dear grandpa handcrafted a cowbell out of sheet metal, then hand-stamped it and presented it to John one summer after John had been out to Grandpa's farm for a long summer visit. It makes me tear up just to think about it. Every time I see that bell I can only smile. We have made the most wonderful memories out at Grandpa's farm. I love that we have a piece of those memories in this room.
The Linen Cabinet
The Linen Cabinet. Or as John affectionately calls it "The Piece of Junk Furniture". Why? Because in an effort to not buy any more building materials, he made the entire cabinet out of leftover materials. He swears that every single piece of the scrap wood that he used was bent and warped. I don't believe him. I like it. A lot.
This time IKEA gave us some ideas:
We used some leftover paint for the color, but if I had it to do over again, I would have gone with a color that is a shade or two darker, so that it wouldn't blend into the wall as much. I'm hoping to fill the shelves of the cabinet with colorful quilts, which will help, I think.
On top of the cabinet we placed two hurricane lantern lights, purchased from amazon.com. I love them for this room. The flames flicker like candles when turned on, and they glow with a soft, warm light.
I wanted to have a guestbook for visitors to sign on the cabinet top, but I didn't want a traditional guestbook. John and I came up with the idea to order a few of the Time-Life Books: The Old West Series from amazon.com. (Remember those old commercials?!) Each guest chooses a picture that they think most represents him or herself and signs his or her name to it.
So, for example, if you flipped through these books, you might decide that you identify with one of these cowboys...
...or one of these outlaws...
...or this fine-looking gentleman...
...or maybe a talented musician...
...or maybe this rough and rowdy, sharp-shootin' cowgirl...
...or just maybe a Dodge City lady of the evening named Squirrel Tooth Alice who chose to take this photograph with her trademark - a pet squirrel.
I don't even know what to say.
A print of two cowboys firing at stagecoach robbers. This picture started the whole theme for the room. I found it, and the print of the sheriff and his gal, at imagekind.com. The vintage photographs are of real stagecoaches and their passengers. The top photo is of the old Deadwood Stagecoach. Love.
If you are still reading, thank you so much for sticking with me! This room has been a labor of love for John and me. It has already welcomed such special people, and I look forward to it welcoming many, many more!
Now, if you'll excuse me, it's late - the best time to view the bunk room, with all the lanterns turned on.
I think the next time that I need some quiet Mom Time, I'm going to pop some popcorn, grab an ice-cold bottle of Coca-Cola, and curl up in one of those bunks with a Nancy Drew.
If you should come and stay and happen to find a piece or two of popcorn on your bunk shelf, I have no idea how it got there.
"I miss Mayberry / Sitting on the porch drinking ice-cold Cherry Coke / Where everything is black and white /
Picking on a six-string / Where people pass by and you call them by their first name / Watching the clouds roll by"
-"Mayberry", Rascal Flatts
Many years ago, very late in the evening, one of the local television stations in Houston would air an episode of The Andy Griffith Show followed by an episode of I Love Lucy. My younger sisters and I would sit and laugh and laugh for a full hour. There was the time that Barney got a sidecar. The time that Andy and Barney got a surprise visit by The Fun Girls ("Bernie!" "Hello, Doll!") The time that Gomer made a citizen's arrest. The time Barney "sang" a solo with the choir. Any time that Floyd was onscreen. Or Otis locked himself into his jail cell. Lucy was probably the favorite show at the time, but now my heart undoubtedly belongs to Mayberry.
Aunt Bea's home cooking. Going fishing. Opie's freckles. Whistling. The slower pace. And Barney. Just Barney. ("Nip it! Nip it!")
And none of this has a single thing to do with the fact that for the last two months John and I have been working on projects to improve our front porch. Except that whenever I think of taking a deep breath and sitting and relaxing on a front porch with something cold to drink in my hand, I think of Mayberry.
New paint for the front door, a color more in keeping with log siding (and our preference). New hardware in a pewter finish. A new grapevine wreath for the front door made with some of my favorite flowers: hydrangeas, delphiniums, rose hips, and English ivy. Little pots of English ivy at the door. If there is a way to cross rugged, rustic mountain decor with English cottage and garden decor, I'm going to do it. At least, I'm going to try. Next year, we'll add flowers. Baby steps.
John built a stagecoach-wagon-wheel-western inspired wooden bench. A place to rest in the summer, to watch the leaves turn in the autumn, to watch the snowfall under blankets in the winter, and to watch the flowers bloom in the spring. Extra long so that we all fit and stained with our favorite dark stain. Oh, and he built wheels. Mind blown. He did this little project in between bunk room projects. If anyone deserves to sit a spell on the front porch and relax, it is him.
I sewed pillow covers in fabrics of red, white, and blue for summer. My colors of summer, I've decided. Life is so seasonal here, and I couldn't bear to take up the Americana colors after the 4th. It was over too fast, so from now on, for me, red, white, and blue will equal summer. I think Aunt Bea would approve.