Oct 7, 2015

California Road Trip

I hit the road to California with my hard-working husband this week for some crisp mountain air and much-needed R and R. 

 We took off going south through the Oregon and Nevada deserts. The vistas stretched in every direction as far as our eyes could see.

 We crossed over the Sierra Mountains at the Sonora Pass, one of the most beautiful roads we've ever traveled.

We unpacked and settled in at my brother's beautiful Twain Harte lakeside cabin.

Then yesterday we hit the road again for a day trip to Yosemite National Park. It was a glorious and perfect autumn day with no crowds. 

This vacation is paradise! We have beautiful sightseeing and hiking during the day, followed by Margaritas on the lakeside deck watching the Canada Geese land at sunset, followed by snuggling up in front of the warm cozy fire with a good book in the evening.

Life is good!

Oct 1, 2015

Celebrating Fall with Sunflowers

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the fall season than with beautiful sunflowers. 

 These stunning orange and red sunflowers grew from seed next to my studio window. 
They're lovely and soft in the early morning shade.

 But when the sun moves higher in the sky, they really earn their name.

 The bees adore them.

 And I adore them! 

 This is the first time I've had a bouquet of sunflowers from our garden.

 I can hardly believe all this beauty came from the little seeds I dropped into the earth last spring.

  I'm a neutral decor kind of gal,

 but I love bringing all the deep jewel tones of autumn into my home.

What a perfect celebration of fall!

Sep 25, 2015

A Living Room Panorama

As I was sitting in my comfy reading chair just now catching up on some blog browsing, I looked up at my favorite view of the living and dining rooms and wished I had a super wide angle camera lens to capture more of what I see in my home for you. I picked up my iPhone to take a quick photo and happened to notice the panorama setting and gave it a try. 

It's SO COOL and fun to play with! 

It's a little wonky, but for the first time I can show you what I see; my favorite view inside my home from my favorite reading chair! 

Silly, I know, but I get off on that stuff!

Happy Friday, everyone! 

Sep 23, 2015

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


Happy first day of fall and welcome back to The North End Loft! 

I'm so happy to be back after my summer break! I feel energized, enthusiastic, and ready to share more of what goes on around here at our little cottage in Boise. I thought today I'd catch you up on some summer doings. 

 We had some big summer prairie fires nearby, blanketing the Treasure Valley with smoke that chased us inside some days. But we had plenty of beautiful warm clear days as well when we put the camping hammock on the deck for afternoon snoozes and had our big family dinners out there enjoying the garden. We spent lots of time sitting on the front porch, too, lazily watching the world go by North End-style. That's my cute husband sitting there with me.

I had planned on taking some online classes and redesigning my blog over the summer, but early in July I found out my identity had been stolen! So far, my identity has been used illegally three separate times for both banking and medical fraud. Instead of spending time designing a pretty blog header, I spent the entire summer researching and coping with the consequences of identity theft. Police reports, federal affidavits, credit reports, long letters of explanation, changing bank accounts and passwords and setting up fraud alerts, carefully taking notes and documenting every single thing. In case you're wondering, I actually do have fraud protection that ended up being useless for the most part. Almost all of the things I had to do can't be done by a third party, only me! The free FTC website was much more useful than my fraud protection. When I mailed my last big pile of letters last week, all certified with return receipts, of course, I almost wept with relief. It's probably not over, but now I'm feeling kind of an expert on identity theft and like I'm fairly protected. So, give it your best shot, you nasty cowardly thieves! I'd just love to get my hands on you!

 In lighter news, my brother and his girlfriend came from California for the 4th of July. It was a scorcher while they were here, the only July 4th I can remember that it was too hot to eat out on the deck. My nephew and his family from Mountain Home came, also, and along with our kids we filled up two tables inside with our big 4th of July BBQ. I was having so much fun I forgot to take any photos! 

The rest of the summer was pretty mild for Idaho, like the old days, and we were able to give the air conditioner a rest. We got a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes and our first raspberries growing in a whiskey barrel beside the back door where we could stop and nibble some on our way in and out the door. I would put up with any kind of weather to have delicious juicy summer fruit and tomatoes. I live for them!

 These were my favorite flowers of the summer. We were happy our clumping bamboo came back after dying to the ground last winter. But super unhappy that all twelve of our day lilies which did so well last year, wilted and looked horrible by midsummer! Now I don't know if I should yank them out or see if they do better next year. They're a significant portion of our little yard, so I hesitate to give them another chance because by the time they look horrible, it's too hot to replant. Any suggestions from my fellow gardeners?

 We cleaned out our basement, garden shed, and side yard, and sold a bunch of stuff on Craigslist. I just love Craigslist! We were surprised that the most popular item we listed was the brass faucet and shower surround from our old claw foot tub. Brass is back, baby! We sold it to a man who is going to use it in his Payette Lake cabin in McCall. We also sold our old Kohler kitchen sink, which I loved. We had that sink in our kitchen for 25 years, and it looked brand new when we sold it except for a few light scratches on the bottom. I've had my new Kohler kitchen sink for only two years, and the bottom already has more scratches than the old one. If I'd have known they don't make them like they used to, I would have kept my old sink! Anyway, we are super pleased to have all our junk gone, knowing it all went to good homes. And we made a few bucks, too!

 The money went into our savings account. You might remember we're on an austerity kick here at our house, saving up with renewed commitment for retirement. I won't lie, there was a little bit of withdrawal at the beginning of summer when I stopped shopping for the house, but after a few weeks I started realizing how much time and effort buying stuff takes. Honestly, I learned to like not planning what to buy, figuring out where to get it, driving to it, lugging it out to the car, etc. Shopping is hard work! Well, maybe I did miss the putting it in just the perfect spot 
in the house part. :) 

I did buy a few things. (I'm not perfect!) I bought two patchwork pillows at Cost Plus that look great with the family room curtains, a five dollar yard sale chicken tureen, and because we have a new Trader Joe's, I splurged on flowers a few times, buying the cheapest ones that last the longest. 

That's me with my early summer hair cut. I thought I'd get it cut even shorter than usual for the hot summer, but holy cow it was SHORT! I had the shortest hair in the family, even counting the guys! I won't be doing that again; it was like shampooing a bald head there for awhile!

 Tucker and I took a lot of cool morning (not really, more like just less hot) walks. One morning I almost stepped on this scary guy who was spread out across the trail. I didn't know a snake could coil so fast! I think my heart actually stopped beating while I jumped back and listened for his rattle. Luckily, there wasn't one; it was just a friendly gopher snake. Tucker never even saw him on his mad dash to get to the creek. It's all about the creek for Tucker. 

 Mostly I had a lazy summer. We didn't go on any trips, and I didn't do much in the way of decorating. My summer chalk board was this U.S. flag. I used the official scale from the federal flag website and measured it all out carefully. It took a couple of days and some stiff fingers, but I loved it all summer long. The zinnias on the table are from my cutting garden and my husband made the rustic box for me from some old fence pickets. I got tired of digging out place mats and napkins for every meal and finally just arranged some in a basket on the sideboard. It was that kind of summer.

These days we try to eat seasonal fresh local food around here. I became a convert when I read Barbary Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I loved the ideas from the book so much I bought this large Vegetannual poster printed from Richard Houser's artwork in the book. I love to bring it out in the summer to remind us of the wonderful fresh local food we'll have all season long. 

 I didn't really decorate the living room for summer per se. I stood in front of my big storage armoire, reached in, and grabbed a few things that I was loving in that moment and sprinkled them around the room. You could find me everyday in the hot afternoons reading in my favorite chair. I am now officially addicted to the Walt Longmire books by Craig Johnson after also watching the series on Netflix. I'm obsessed with his cabin in Wyoming, and if you also watch the show you know exactly what I'm talking about.

And, boy howdy, what's not to love about this guy!

So, that's how I spent my summer vacation. No excitement or exotic trips, no new blogging skills learned, just a lazy Idaho summer enjoying my family, my home, my dog, and my books.

And now, I'm ready to move on to a beautiful fall, my favorite season. There's something about the cooling of the days and the frosty nights that make me want to nurture my family by creating a cozy warm home and cooking nourishing hot meals for them. And preparing for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are such special times for me. It's all about making the days magical and memorable for my family. 

I'm ready!

Jun 8, 2015

Summer Sabbatical

Hello, everyone! I hope your week is off to a wonderful start! 

I have two items to share with you today. 

First, I finally got my dining room boxes unpacked after our new floors were installed. (I know, I can't believe it took me so long!) I put my big metal tray on the dining room table with a few farm house-y yard sale finds I unpacked. The tray fits the new table perfectly, and that makes me a happy camper.

The second item I have to share is that I'm taking a summer sabbatical from blogging here at The North End Loft. I'll be spending the summer refreshing my creative blogging spirit, resting, studying, and hopefully acquiring some new skills along the way. 

Some of the other things I'll be doing this summer are helping my daughters decorate their new homes and gardens, taking long walks in the hills with Tucker, building a new shed for our garden, cooking lots of good summer food for family dinners on the deck, and spending many lazy hours on the front porch with my dear husband. We're also planning a big 4th of July party to celebrate my husband's 60th birthday and my brother's 65th birthday. I can't wait for that!

Blogging these past three years has enriched my life in so many wonderful ways. I never expected the outpouring of welcoming encouragement I received from the blogging community when I began, nor that I would develop so many friendships with amazing women from all over the world, friendships that I will always cherish. I never expected that so many lovely people would be interested in what I have to share, and that has touched me deeply. My favorite part of blogging is when a reader tells me they've been inspired. 

That's what it's all about for me.

I'll miss all of my friends and followers over the summer! I hope you have a great time while I'm gone. We'll have lots of fun when I return next fall, and I'll have tons of new ideas and projects to share.

Happy Summer!

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