Category Archives: Projects

Burlap and Arrows Chalkboards

When we built, I knew I wanted a big area to ‘land’ when we walked in the door.  Lots of room for boots, coats, purses, marking, instruments, backpacks, and all of the rest of the paraphernalia from everyday life.

This was our entry from the trailer that we lived in for 12 years.  You can see why I had my heart set on something a little bigger.  This wasn’t easy to live with.

What I wanted included a desk for mail and the computer.  I wanted it right by the back door rather than hidden away in an office somewhere so I didn’t have to traipse all over the house putting stuff away and then hauling it back to deal with it.

Besides.  I am bad at doing that.  Out in the open is better.  Then I can’t forget!

We have the desk area.  But the desk had a big blank wall looming above it.  That needed a little something…

So I have been looking for a long time for things to fill up the wall above my desk.  Items on my list are a whiteboard calendar (I’m a calendar girl- no matter how many things I type into my phone, I just don’t remember them as well as if they are written in big letters on a calendar), a pinboard to hold notes and reminders, and some other pretty kinds of decorations.

front entry


Craft Room


Office Organizers


desk area


And then I spotted these beauties.  Love.  Them.

They are so us.

Zinc & Jute Round Chalkboard


I knew I had to do these right away.

So I cut out the circles from some leftover bookshelf backing material that we hadn’t used from our library bookshelves and then gave them a couple of coats of ASCP in Primer Red.  I knew you could use it for chalkboard paint as I had already done the inset of my pantry door with it.

This is how they turned out.

I put our initials on them- they are probably going to be used for decoration rather than real chalkboards.  I love the look of them.

I will show you the rest of the desk gallery wall soon.  A few little additions to go yet…

Front Doors Finally Painted

This is the not so delightful color that our front doors have been for the past year and a half.

And the outside view.

If you look at the following, you’ll see where I’m headed.

Red front Door


Red front door...


red front door.


Red Front Door


 <3 red front door


I love a red front door!


 It took a long time for me to get brave enough to do this.  For some reason, even though we built the entire house, made all the decisions (including all of the paint colors and doing all of the painting ourselves), I found this choice very difficult- rivaled only by my agony in choosing kitchen cupboards.

Even after I had found the perfect paint and the perfect color, I was still nervous about doing it.

It’s the front of our house, for pete’s sake!

Here’s how it turned out…

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Primer Red.  It took 3 coats to get full coverage but it still only took barely over a quart of paint to get both doors, both sides, painted.

See the complete patio makeover here.

We love it!  What color is your front door?

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Summer Patio

Here is the front patio after the door was painted and the flowers planted and the bikes and skateboards and dogs gently removed.

This is what it looked like last summer.

Big changes, no?

We started the front landscaping by building the bank out of rocks and then the paver stone patio on top.  Stairs completed the big work.

Then, all that was left to do was fill the flower pots and the chairs and enjoy it!

One side of the front door.

And the other.

This is in early evening, but usually this is a hot and sunny south-facing spot.

The woods surrounding our house come right up to the bottom of the patio so you are surrounded by a halo of green at this time of day.

I just finished painting our front door with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  Primer Red.  I love it.  See the before picture above for the original color.

I’ve had the old whiskey barrels for a long time.  My parents used them as water barrels when I was growing up.

My grandma collected cream cans.  She painted them usually and I have one inside my front door with beautiful farm scenes on it.  This one she hadn’t gotten around to yet, and now I use it for flowers.

The whiskey barrels are bottomless, so I just planted flowers in a smaller sized pot and plunked it in there on  a piece of wood.  Burlap fills in the edges.

At the bottom of the steps we planted two weeping carragana.  They are so pretty in the summer and still interesting to look at in the winter too, which is kind of a big deal around here.  I can see hanging little lights on them at Christmas.

The yellow pansies planted underneath looked especially pretty until a couple of days ago.

When somebody decided to have a little snack.

Oh well, one side still looks un-chewed.

I didn’t want the stump by the driveway to feel left out, so it got a little yellow begonia.

The pots aren’t very spectacular looking just yet.  We just planted them last weekend and it actually froze here two nights ago, so our annuals are just getting started (sigh… our season in Alberta is so short).  But, the hanging pots are lovely now.

I’ll give you some updated pictures in July when the pots should have filled out a little more.

And…. one last shot…

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Supporting Habitat for Humanity

Raised Garden

In an effort to try and get some use out of the very tall and imposing bank in our backyard, we are experimenting with gardening.

The bank faces south, and we thought between that and building a raised bed, we may actually be able to get something to grow.

We made ours 8 x 4 and I divided it into one foot sections using twine and screws.  I planted a lot in here!  Zucchini, peas, beans, lettuce, carrots, dill, and onions.  Hopefully it all grows!  It is a sunny spot, so it should.

Shaun put wood bark and chips all around it and some flat stones that he split when he made me some stairs to get up here.

I hope the deer don’t eat it all.

Our dogs will bark at a squirrel all night long, but deer…. nothing.

Stone Steps

One day after school, I came home to this as a surprise from my husband.

The day before, we had built a raised garden on the top of this hill and he may have had enough of watching me stumble up and down it.

So he split some rocks.  Yes, he can do that.

And built these.

I’m thinking some creeping thyme around them to fill in the spaces so maybe one day they will look like this.

Pinned Image


Aren’t they beautiful?

 But I love mine already, too!

We had a busy weekend here.  I’m painting my doors with ASCP!  Can’t wait to show you!

I also planted all of my pots of flowers- one of my very favorite things to do- and we continued to work on our landscaping mega-project as well as get some smaller projects finished up.   Yesterday, we drove out to the lake to park our trailer for the summer, do a little fishing, and have a barbecue!

It’s the Victoria Day May long weekend here so I have one more day off before school fires up again for the last stretch.

Hope you had a great weekend!


You may have noticed that the blog posts have slowed down a lot this past week.

It is a bit of a crunch time at work for me right now (some of my students are writing a provincial exam tomorrow so last week was all about writing and writing some more, which meant late nights of marking for me), the weather has actually turned decent the past 2 weekends, so, when not marking, I have been outside doing yard work, and the last reason is that I am just stuck on some big projects that are partially completed but that I just can’t seem to find the time or energy to complete (gallery wall in office, mudroom shelving, laundry countertop, recovering chair…).

I’ll get there, though.

I did want to show you what we had been up to outside.

Last summer, we worked very hard and finished the front yard of the house.  We built a rock wall and a paver stone patio and stairs.

But the back yard still looked like this.

As the ground had been disturbed from the house build, it was full of Canada thistle, quack grass, and clover.


And then we moved in and lived here for a while and this happened.

Junkapalooza.  And not in a cool, Junk Gypsy kind of way either.

More of a horrifying, what-kind-of-hoarders-live-here kind of way.

 Apparently, the kind that heats their home with wood.

 And collects antlers and garbage can and barbecues.  That kind of hoarder.

Anyway, back to the yard…

Here is the view of the entire back yard including the back hoarding wood-storage porch and the rest of the space.  Because of the sheer size, it was intimidating getting started.

The slope at the back provided some challenges as well (but great protection from the north wind).  I think this little nook carved into the slope will be our fire pit area.

This raised area is just outside the back mudroom/ hallway door.  We are going to plant this all out in grass and have a couple of flower beds.

But guess what we are doing with that bank…

That’s right.  We are back to building another rock wall.  It just makes sense.  The ground is very rocky here (we do live at a gravel pit) and we don’t see why we would move them away rather than just use them on site.  That bank had to be stabilized with something.

The reason why the picture seems so dark is that we had my dad come up with his loader to even out the ground for us, so the whole length of the yard has a fresh covering of dirt.

We don’t fool around.  It would take a lot of wheelbarrow trips to move that much dirt.

The really good news was that not only did we get the backyard leveled out and a space created out of that back bank for a wood shed…

(this makes my husband very happy and maybe will help to keep the back covered porch clean…maybe)…

…but we also discovered that we actually have soil in the backyard.  We thought before that it was all rock and sand and that we were going to have to buy a million yards of black dirt before we planted grass seed.

Not so.

A lot of nice, rich soil to plant grass in.  Yay!

Once we finish picking out all the rocks!  Boo!

Lots of work left to do, but we have made a lot of progress in the last two weekends!  We also planted some trees and I finally got brave enough to start a job that has been intimidating me for a year and a half now.

I’ll give you a sneak peak.

Please ignore the mess surrounding the door.  We do.

My workload this week is not as crazy as it has been so hopefully I can finish up some projects around here.  Or maybe even relax on that patio.

End Tables

It is my sincere wish to get a couple more end tables and coffee tables around here.  I think everyone’s tired of putting their drinks on the floor!

The one tiny little table we do have is always covered in books.

Here is some inspiration.

Rebecca Trunk


We have the Benchwright table and benches, so maybe a couple of end tables too?  Or we could make some…

 Benchwright Reclaimed Wood Side Table - Wax Pine finish


We have a lot of leftover barn wood from our floors, so maybe we could make something like this.

Brickmaker's Table


 But we already have a lot of wood in our house, so maybe something upholstered.


I also think that a console might be nice behind the couch as we do have the space there for one and it would save having little tables at either end.

This baker’s rack console is something else we could make using our barn wood.


So I’m obviously looking for something vintage looking, rustic, and slightly industrial.

What do you use for coffee tables or end tables?  Are you a sofa console person?  What works in your house?

Any suggestions?

Wire Basket Tutorial

Don’t you just the look of vintage wire baskets with lovely stacks of linens, or cutlery, or anything, in them?

Wire baskets


Don’t you just hate the price?

Chessin Wire Baskets


And the fact that they are virtually impossible to find?  Especially if you are looking for a certain size?

Lined Wire Baskets


 How about making your own using hardware cloth?  And sewing a liner out of drop cloth?

I needed some big bins for underneath our kitchen bench and used this tutorial from Attempting Aloha to make them!!

It was fairly easy to do once you have your measurements.  You just need some snips, wire, and heavy duty gloves!

Here they are!

I am going to fill them with potatoes and onions.

I am hoping to eventually stencil the front of them.  Or maybe add a clay tag or two…

What are you up to this week?

Stone and Rose Kitchen

The next stop in the house tour is the kitchen!  This is my favorite room in the house and was definitely the room that I put the most planning into when we designed it.

 We built our kitchen into the southeast corner of our house facing the front with big windows and lots of counter space.  We have a few uppers on the one wall, but our storage mostly comes from lots of lower drawers and cabinets.  Our cupboards are Ikea and we are very happy we went with them.  They were economical and great quality, too.

The door on the right hand side is the pantry.  I painted the inside part of the inner door with ASCP in Primer Red to make a chalkboard.  It is pretty darn handy here- we use it all the time… to draw skulls and remind each other to buy fish bait apparently!

The plates are antiques that my grandma had in her kitchen for years and the framed embroidery was made by my other grandma and is the Norwegian table grace.  I love that every time I open my pantry door I am reminded of them and their kitchens.

The south wall holds the sink and dishwasher and a couple of surprises…

…two of my addictions- TV and coffee!  We debated on whether to put a TV in here or not, but I really enjoy it!!  I just turn it on when I’m cooking or doing dishes or making lunches and then it doesn’t feel like such a chore!

The faucet is a touch control so you can turn it on with just a nudge of your arm when your hands are covered in raw chicken.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

This is the view out of my sink window.  Towards the driveway so I can see who’s coming.  Bird feeder.  Shed.  Lots and lots of trees.  Pretty good view.

All of the window ledges in our house are very deep because we built with ICF (concrete forms).  Ten inches actually.  We used pieces of barn board from our floors for the bottom ledge portion of all of the windows.

By the sink I have two pieces of quartz crystal that my father-in-law gave us, tulips for spring, and rocks of course!!

Looking out past the Norwegian spruce to the bike ramp so I can see what horrifying antics are going on out there!

But I prefer to focus on the flowers!

The countertops are quartz composite in a gray/ green color and the backsplash is pebble tile that we embellished using rocks from our own driveway to create a more natural, uneven top line to it.

I love these little measuring spoons.  I never use them… just for decoration.

We just got the new barn board sign put up above the sink.

The pendants over the island are red (which is kind of my go to choice for accent color).

The back wall with the stove, cupboards, and messy side of the fridge.

Here are the shelves we had room to squeeze in and pretty front to the fridge.  The shelves hold all of my cookbooks, the canisters for flour, sugar, etc., and some decor items.

Under the bench by the shelves I made some wire baskets with drop cloth inserts using the tutorial found here.  I’ll use them for potatoes and onions.

This is from the kitchen looking out to the living room.

Here’s the whole kitchen from the living room so you can see our table and benches as well.  Pottery Barn.  It was the big splurge and we did an awful lot of work on this house ourselves, so we went for it.  Love.

We didn’t originally plan on having stools at the island, but one ended up there, and we use it all the time!

The island is big and holds 3 sets of drawers by the stove for pots and pans, rice cookers, etc.  The side by the sink holds two cabinets/ slide outs for recycling, and the side closest to the stool holds bakeware and placemats and napkins.  We ended up with the little nook in the front, which is nice to decorate!

The paint color is General Paints Cartographic, which is a lovely kind of gray/ taupe.  The trim is all General Paints pure white.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our kitchen!

Family History

This past Easter weekend, we went to my husband’s family’s for dinner and a visit.

I have been asking for a while for pictures of his grandparents when they were young to go with the gallery wall I have featuring my grandparents when they were young and my parents were small.

Here is a picture of it so far.

I have pictures of my grandparents and their businesses (logging camp and trucking outfits) and then pictures of my parents when they were little.

I wanted the same thing for my husband’s family.

And I finally have some pictures to add!

This is his grandma in the mountains after she moved from the prairie.

I can imagine it was quite the change in scenery for her.

I love how there are always pictures with horses.

And speaking of, here is her husband on his horse, Silver.

Here they are together.

I also love how, in all the old pictures, after there are children, they are always included in the shots.

My mother-in-law with her dad.

Helping her dad with a swan (and you can see the beaver pelt in the background).

You can see how much my husband looks like his grandpa!

Here is my mother-in-law and her sister with dad skinning a bear in the background.

Isaac and the girls.

The girls.

With a beaver.
Grandma looks less thrilled than the kids.
 It will be fun to choose some of them to enlarge and add to the family gallery wall.
Do you have old photographs in your home?


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