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!


  1. Welcome back LaureL! Sorry about the praire fires and the identity theft, those are both big bummers for sure. But over all, everything in your summer sounds fun and happy! Like the short hair cut and all the pretty touches and finds in your home!

  2. So much to comment on:
    - loved Animal Vegetable Miracle ( actually love all her books) and the one I really think about is the bananas I love that are obviously not local.

    - I am trying to shop the house instead of bringing in more "stuff" and I think the house and my wallet are doing just fine.

    -We too have had the identity theft/hacking of accounts. We had to meet with the FBI after one theft. We think that one was an inside job because we actually know 3 of the 4 couples who had their credit union accounts compromised. And, both our federal and state taxes were filed fraudulently. Fortunately, because Steve pays quarterly taxes and the thieves didn't know that, both agencies caught it. Of course, we still don't have our returns 7 months later.


  3. Welcome Back!! You've been missed! Sounds like you had the perfect summer.
    What I am NOT missing is that hot spell you posted ~ awful! And of course, the smoky days...

    Remind me again where you got your leather chair, please... we're in the market.

    I still have my summer decorations up; it is hard to move to the fall stuff when its 80+* out!!

    Again, welcome back ~

  4. PS ~ I forgot to say... How awful about the identity theft!! What a horrible thing to have to go through.

  5. Welcome back! I was looking through my blog subscriptions just last night and was hoping you'd be back, and here you are! How awful to have your identity stolen; that's a huge concern where I am because of a massive data breach at a local health insurer. Let's hope it's all over for you.

    Looking forward to all your future posts!

  6. My comment disappeared...ugh! ANYWAY, I basically said that I love your house as always and sorry to hear about the identity theft. I'll check out your link. Your flag is beautiful by the way and I like the haircut. We're doing great here. Baby Kate is 2 months &Livy is doing great as a big sister. Glad you're back!

  7. Hi Laurel!!! So so sorry you had such a rough summer and the identity theft thing is SCARY! I hope it is over for you. Maybe you should write up a blog post on how to protect yourself and how to deal with identity theft. I'm sure there are many people out there who are over exposed...

    Your house looks beautiful and the flag is gorgeous! I'm happy you're back to blogging - I've missed you!!!


  8. Oh and ps daylillies are pretty tough cookies. I'd leave them until next spring and see if they pop up again before tearing them out.


  9. HI Laurel and welcome back. Looks like an adventurous and fun summer at home, except for the identity theft. So scary. Love your flag and of course everything about your home. Great hair cut too. Happy Fall.

  10. It sounds like a lovely summer break! Welcome back and looking forward to seeing all you have in store for fall!

    :) Linda

  11. Hi Laurel! Sounds like you had a pleasant summer for the most part (minus the ID theft-that sucks)! As for the daylilies, they don't like extreme heat...they pretty much die back here in Texas each Summer. Just keep them watered, they will return. I just figure I'll have blooms in the Spring and make sure they are planted with something else that hides the ugly. Ha, I cut my hair really short too and ugh, didn't care for it. Letting it grow back out. Sigh, I really hate that process. Happy Fall!

  12. Holy cow, where to begin? ... Identity theft totally stinks!!! That must feel like such a personal invasion. And then there is all the work trying to clean up the aftermath. What is wrong with people? ... I love the flag chalkboard and your adorable haircut! ... I think your garden fared well in spite of the extreme heat! The daylilies are a surprise. I thought they were pretty indestructible. I think I'd just wait and see if they come back next year. And I love the idea of munching on fresh-picked raspberries! I so missed you at the garden parties. ... Your sure got a lot of heat and the prairie fires sound pretty scary! And snakes totally freak me out!!! ... Overall it sounds like your summer was a good combination of being productive and enjoying some quality down time. ... So how did the time off make you feel about blogging? Anxious to come back, ready to leave it behind or something in-between?

  13. And did I mention that I really, really missed you!!!!!

  14. Welcome back Laurel!!! Oh dear what a terrible thing you went through with identity theft. I fear this happening to me some day. I would not know where to go. I pray it is all over now! Beautiful place where you took the dog for a walk. Whau! That looks like a huge snake. I prefer not to have any close encounter with snakes, friendly ones or not. I am happy you are back. You always share lovely and useful ideas! May you have a great weekend ahead!!

  15. Welcome back Laurel - I missed you!!

  16. I just found your blog a few days ago so it was a treat to get a chance to 'read up' a bit before you got back to the computer. It's good to take some time away from things: you always come back with new insights and eager for what can come next!
    Happy Days!

  17. Welcome back! I missed ya! How wonderful to take the summer off.... not sure I could ever do that. :)

    OMGosh soooo sorry about the identity theft. My worst nightmare! I'm glad you were able to tackle it and learn. Sorry to hear that the protection is pretty much worthless.

    looking forward to more posts Laurel!



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