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!


Jun 1, 2015

Retirment Plans and My Antique Farm House Wishlist

If you happen to read my blog regularly, you know we've done a lot of remodeling around our cottage over the past few years. 

We remodeled our kitchen first.

Followed by our master suite.

 Then we had new hardwood floors installed. 

We also bought some new furniture - a leather sectional for the family room and a sofa for the living room along with a couple of chairs, rugs, and a new bed. 

We also had a sprinkler system installed and redid most of our landscaping.

We saved up and spent a lot of money on our old home in the past three years. At least to us it was a lot of money. We are very frugal folks, my husband and I. We waited until our daughters had graduated from college and we were empty nesters before being able to update our home. And, oh boy, did it need updating because our house was beginning to look like a museum of 1990's decor and the old sofa was really starting to sag! Everything has been done following a strict budget, and we always saved the funds before we spent them. We didn't borrow any money or use credit.

The only things left to do now are new carpet in the loft and painting the outside. We just need to choose our colors. Once those two things are finished my husband and I should not have to spend anymore effort, time, or money on large home improvement jobs for the rest of the years we live in this house. And that was our goal; to have our cottage in great shape to effortlessly enjoy as we enter our retirement years and to sell at any time if we decide to downsize. 

Not only is it incredibly wonderful to live in a newly remodeled home for the first time in our lives, it's also wonderful to have the peace of mind that our largest retirement investment, our home, is in tip top shape as we think about retirement. And now that we have more time, I've been reading lots of books about retirement and finding out there are so many more options open to us than we thought. It's a very exciting time! In fact, we're now discovering retirement might be closer for us than we thought. It entails some serious belt-tightening again for a couple of years, back to living that frugal life we lived while raising our kids. 

We're kind-of excited by the challenge!

This has all been a very long introduction to today's post. You see, when I opened my regular email from the Antique Farm House website today and saw all the cool things for sale, I decided to buy one or two of them. Then all of a sudden I remembered we're not doing that anymore! We're living frugally again and saving up for an earlier retirement. 

Oh darn!

For the next couple of years my new decor will once again be coming exclusively from thrift stores, yard sales, and our own hands. But I realized that doesn't mean I can't enjoy browsing through websites like Antique Farm House anymore because it's a great way to get ideas for what to watch for at yard sales and thrift stores and even for diy projects. 

(Antique Farm House didn't have anything to do with this post, by the way. I just like them.) 

So I thought I'd share with you the great things from Antique Farm House I'd have purchased today if we hadn't embraced a new frugality and if money was no object. 

Enjoy some farm house love with me!

Double Sided Garden Shop Supply Sign
Distressed Green Metal Rolling Cart

 Green Metal Garden Basket

Rustic Garden Gate Decor

Estate Stone Milk Cow Statue

Weathered Wood Potting Table With Galvanized Metal Top

If you love farm house decor as I do, you're probably swooning by now. It was a particularly good day at Antique Farm House to me, and I loved (I mean loved) all of these things. It's almost like the shopping gods were testing my brand new commitment to not pressing that "add to cart" button! 

It helped enormously to share this gorgeous farm house decor with you, even if it didn't make it into my cart today. It was almost just as good! ;) 

I hope it inspires you, too!

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.

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