May 27, 2015

New Garden Tour

It's a glorious spring morning here at The North End Loft. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, and the air is crisp and sparkling after a big thunder storm last night. It's the perfect day to introduce my new garden tour!

I've been wanting to put together a photo tour of our little garden for ages, and I finished one over the weekend. The tour is made up of a few new photos along with some from the past two years, all taken since we cut down the big backyard shade tree in 2013. 

I've added a garden tour tab just below my blog title, and you can also see the tour by clicking right

Have a wonderful day, and I hope to see you in the garden!

May 18, 2015

Our Oregon Coast Spring Vacation

Hello, friends! I'm back from my spring vacation with some photos to share today. 

My husband and I took a road trip to the Oregon coast last week. We love to visit the coast in the spring when it almost seems like we have the whole place to ourselves. We don't let the unpredictable spring weather slow us down and just pack clothing for whatever may come. On this trip we had some of everything, from light rain and wind, to misty fog, to sunshine. 

 We always stay in our favorite beachfront condominium where we can enjoy a warm fire or a home cooked meal while looking out at the beautiful ocean view. 

We had our own patio and grassy area, which was great for Tucker. Our hosts greeted us with a big basket of cute dog bowls, towels for wet sandy paws, and even some sheets to cover the bed in case Tucker sneaked up there when we weren't looking. 

The condo is next to Tillamook Mountain at the quiet residential south end of Seaside, and there's a cute pub, a breakfast café and even a little neighborhood market just down the street.

Here's a view of the sun setting from our little patio. Our bedroom shared this view from sliding doors, too, and we kept them open a bit at night to hear the waves breaking on the sand. Our condo complex lends out cruiser bikes to ride along this promenade into Seaside if the mood for crowds strikes. We could sometimes look all the way down the promenade and not see another soul here, though, and it really felt like we had the whole beach to ourselves! 

Tillamook Mountain is included in Ecola State Recreation Area, which is our favorite place to explore when we visit the coast. We especially love hiking through the lush green ancient forests.

Tucker has to be on a six foot leash when we walk here, but on the sandy beaches from the grass to the low tide mark, dogs under voice control are allowed off leash on all state beaches. Oregon is considered one of the dog friendliest of all states for well behaved dogs. 

 There are trees so huge here that we can't see their tops. These trees were here when Lewis and Clark hiked in these forests. Maybe they even stood here and looked up at this very same tree.

The views of the coastline from high up on the trails are stunning, and we stopped often to take photos with our iPhones.

This is a view of Cannon Beach (a charming seaside town with fabulous shopping) and Haystack Rock (a popular tourist attraction) from the Ecola State Park viewpoint. 

   It's hard to get a feeling for how huge Haystack Rock is unless you're standing next to it. 

To give you an idea of how huge it is, this photo of me with Haystack Rock in the background was taken from almost three quarters of a mile away. You can see the tiny people on the beach at its base if you look carefully. There are tide pools full of fascinating sea creatures here and hundreds of seabirds nest atop it.

Cars are allowed to be carefully driven on Oregon State beaches, too. As soon as we arrived, we drove down onto a deserted beach and introduced ten year-old Tucker to the ocean. It was his first time experiencing all the sights, sounds, and scents of the ocean.

I caught his excitement with this iPhone video. (You might want to turn down the volume a bit before clicking on the arrow.)

As you can tell from his big silly grin, he loved it!

We all had such a great time beach combing, hiking, and watching the tides come and go. 

It rained here in Boise almost the whole time we were gone on our vacation, so we came home to lots of pretty spring flowers. When the sun comes out I'll be outside with my camera again. 

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful week!

Let's party at

A Stroll Thru Life
Coastal Charm

May 2, 2015

Yay for May!

YAY for May!

Yesterday, I beat the weekend crowds at the nursery and shopped early for my spring plants.

And today's forecast is for perfect planting weather! 

Sunshine, here I come!

I hope you have a wonderful day, too!

Join me again this year for the fun and fabulous Elizabeth & Co. Garden Party

Elizabeth and Co.

Apr 29, 2015

New Spring and Summer Area Rugs for the Family Room and Living Room

I'm just popping in today to share a quick peek at the new area rugs I found for our living room and family room. Here in Boise it's very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter, and I've found that what's underfoot can affect how we respond to those extremes. So I've begun switching out some of our area rugs for the seasons. I've searched high and low to find well made and good looking, yet very affordable area rugs that I don't mind having rolled up in our attic for six months out of the year. 

Last fall I purchased this large 8'x10' deep sumptuous shag rug in rich warm colors that complement my decorating in the living room during the cooler months of the year. (This photo is from last Christmas.) This plush rug was only $398 at our local Lowe's and brought instant color, warmth and coziness to our living room.

However, during our hot high desert summers here, I've learned that bare hardwood floors with smaller and lighter weight area rugs help us feel cooler. This is the same room with the 5'x8' jute area rug I bought on clearance for $120 from our local Pier One Imports on Saturday. (As you can see I still haven't unpacked this room since the new floors went in.) 

I originally purchased a different sisal rug from that I'm now giving to my daughter. Although that rug was beautiful, it had yellow and green grasses that washed out the sofa and walls and made them look dingy. This rug has both gold and gray grasses woven throughout that seem to marry the armoire and sofa well while complementing the Manchester Tan walls. 

 I love the informal look of natural jute and sisal rugs for summer along with the textural layer they add to a room, but I'd read many reviews that said they were difficult to vacuum and keep clean because of the thick weave. This rug has a relatively tight flat braid that my vacuum glides over more easily, and I have a Dyson handheld that makes quick work of vacuuming the fringe. (The thick grassy fringe is one of the things I loved best about this rug.) 

Though nothing about our cottage can really be considered formal, the living room is a more formal room in our home that gets less traffic and wear than others. So I feel comfortable leaving more of the hardwood floor exposed and unprotected in there than in more high traffic rooms. 

And I already feel cooler.

Here is my (headless, oops) husband and Tucker checking out the new family room rug. Our family room lives hard with the whole family watching movies and munching on snacks and just hanging out informally here in general. Add to that the dog and the door leading out to the deck and yard, and we needed a sturdy, tough, easy to clean rug that will protect the new hardwood floor. Believe me, it's not easy finding a neutral rug with those requirements that you also really want to look at everyday.

This 8'x10' indoor/outdoor rug, purchased at our local Home Depot on Saturday for $119, fit the requirements for us. It's drag-outside and hose-off tough, but still looks nice enough for our summer family room. I love how it brings together the creamy walls and white TV console with the brown leather furniture and how it adds some texture and pattern to the room. 

I also originally purchased a different rug for this room online from Target. Luckily, it was an easy local return to the store because, like the first living room rug I ordered, it was less than appealing. I've come to the conclusion that for large size rugs, computer screens just can't adequately convey true colors and returning them is a pain in the rear. As difficult and limited as shopping is here in Boise, I'll still be sticking with purchasing rugs locally from now on where I can see them in the store before bringing them home.

Since we have the final rug sizes, I ordered custom cut rug pads for all our new rugs from, whom we've been happy with in the past. The high quality felt pads cost as much as some of our inexpensive summer rugs, but it would be crazy not to protect our new hardwood floors properly, and we consider that money well spent. 

Now that I have my neutral summer backdrops in place I'm looking forward to adding more layers and textures throughout our house. I'm planning on taking it slow and including only items that we really love. There are four boxes sitting on the dining room table waiting to be unpacked (just a start) and I'm excited to get started making our house uniquely ours again.

I'm so glad you stopped by to see our new spring and summer area rugs today. I hope you enjoy the rest of your week!


I love to party!

Savvy Southern Style

Apr 20, 2015

What's Been Going On Around Here

It's high time we had an update around here! 

I hope you're all enjoying a nice spring. It's been a busy one for us so far. My husband and I spent the weekend helping our oldest daughter and her fiancé prime and paint the 
four bedrooms in their new house

We had a lot of fun but, boy, am I pooped today! 

On our home front, things are starting to get back to normal after having the new floors installed. The family room floors are finally done and happily curing. I've decided having floors installed and finished on site is kind of like giving birth; if we women didn't eventually forget the pain, we just might never voluntarily go through it all again. 

But, seriously, we do love our new floors!

There's not much going on outside around here yet. Local wisdom says not to plant your annuals until the snow has melted off of Shafer Butte. Since it keeps melting and snowing again up there, I'm playing it safe and waiting for next month.

 Spring has made a tentative showing indoors, though, with some flowers, a birdhouse, and a favorite ceramic bird.

The photo clipboards above the sofa are sporting some pretty spring art.

Free botanical prints from A Daily Something.

Tucker is back to looking at me like I'm nuts for walking all around the house pointing my camera at everything like I've never seen it all before a million times.  

When I say things are starting to get back to normal at our house, I really mean just starting. My chalkboard is still wearing its winter menu!

I did manage a bit of spring decorating in the dining room, too, though. And we also rearranged the furniture a bit when we moved it back in. We moved this homemade cupboard from the entryway into the dining room where there's room now beside the new table. I always wanted a buffet in the dining room! 

You can see my new green glass candlesticks from World Market peeking over the tray. I fell in love with their pretty sparkly spring green color and they're one of my favorite possessions now, but my taper candles are still packed away! 

 We are enjoying all the room beside our new table, and how we can easily fit six chairs here now. Walking between rooms feels so much better now.

Here's a close-up of the top of our new industrial/rustic/farmhouse table. 

 We ended up finding the perfect affordable sun blocking solution for our south facing window at Lowes with this lined bamboo blind. It even has a narrow black stripe that looks great with our black Windsor chairs.

I also like the way it picks up the other textures in the dining room and how it balances out the visual weight of the buffet and chalkboard on the opposite wall.

The best part is how I can close it part way to block the sun while still enjoying the sheer white cafe curtain below it as it softly billows into the room from the breeze through the open window. I just love curtains billowing in the spring breeze!

Did you notice the empty corner cabinet and the glimpse of our bare hutch in the next room?

Bare as can be! And the poor orchid all alone there on our old dining room table as it sits waiting for its new home at our daughter's house. If I didn't love the lack of clutter so much just now, I might be a little embarrassed to show you I haven't unpacked yet.

And the living room is just as empty! Well, not empty, just not decorated. I think I haven't unpacked yet because I'm simply enjoying all this calm after the chaos so much. I haven't even felt moved to add a colorful pillow to the sofa. Every once in awhile, I just walk in here and look at the beautiful new floors and feel utterly satisfied!

I'm not sure how long this will last. I ordered a couple of new area rugs, and maybe when I get them I'll be inspired to unpack and decorate again. 

By the way, how do you like the new furniture layout? It's so much more open, and we're really enjoying it for now. 

Before I go, I want to share some exciting news. My dear friend (really one of the nicest, sweetest bloggers in the whole world) Sharon, of Elizabeth & Co. has opened an Etsy shop where she's now offering the most gorgeous handmade wreaths you have ever seen. This is just a tiny sample of her exquisite creations.


Aren't they simply breathtaking? Way to go, Sharon! Best of luck with your newest creative endeavor.

I'm so glad you all stopped in to catch-up with me today.

Have a most wonderful week, everyone!

How about a fun spring party?!

Between Naps On The Porch
Mod Vintage Life
The Scoop
Cozy Little House
From My Front Porch To Yours
Our Home Away From Home
A Stroll Thru Life
Coastal Charm
Elizabeth & Co.

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