Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

April 27, 2017

Spring To-Do List


All winter I anxiously count down the days until spring, but those first few weeks of spring are always a little rough.  First of all, living where I do, we never know if a snowstorm is looming (it has snowed at the end of May here!).  Just recently I was traveling for work and the drive was so beautiful - it actually got up to 19 degrees Celsius, so when I checked into my motel I left my parka in the truck.  I didn't open the curtains in the morning and when I reached the lobby, I almost had a heart attack thanks to the raging snowstorm that greeted me.  Everyone in the lobby was bundled up because it had dropped to 5 below but I held my head high, shoulders back, and calmly walked to the truck like I was just too darn tough for a parka.  I was soaked and freezing all day long!  Since then, I have been a little hesitant opening up my curtains in the morning.  My second complaint is that there's this ugly little period of spring when the beautiful glitteriness that is winter has been replaced by brown grass and muddy roads - no flowers or leaves yet - just MUD.  I also hate being reminded that my lawn in 95% dog, fox, and goose poop.  

But I still feel this jittery anticipation, knowing that warm days, green grass, and beautiful flowers are on their way!  I am SO pumped for warmer weather so I can bust out my pretty flats and spring clothes (I'm still toggling between my spring jacket and my deep freeze parka).


This year Handy Hubby and I really need to focus our DIY efforts on the lakehouse exterior.  We always say we'll do a bunch of projects outside but then our motivation wanes once it's warm enough to get out on Lake Superior.  We tackle a couple of items, but the chores have piled up for years and, thanks to some new additions, our Spring/Summer To-Do List is scary long this year:

  • strip and re-stain deck
  • plant bushes along shoreline
  • plant more cedars to create more privacy around the property
  • start a vegetable garden?
  • build new concrete step
  • stain car port concrete
  • pick up and shovel (ugh!) gravel for driveway
  • tear down and replace vinyl siding?
  • close up a superfluous exterior entrance
  • finally deal with "illegal" garage structure
  • move some plants and shrubs to make mowing the lawn easier
  • revive the two gardens flanking the deck stairs
  • do some container gardening and buy some hanging baskets
  • tear down the old gasoline shack (or at least paint it)?
  • build an outdoor sofa or Adirondack chairs?
  • remove one segment of the dock and repair what's left

Yikes, that's a long list and I'm sure that's not even everything.  Also on our list: rake the lawn (get that poop and driftwood outta there) and get that grass healthy again!  I'd love a lush, green lawn...


If your outdoor list is as scary as ours, you can lighten the load by getting a quote from TruGreen, who will evaluate your lawn and trees and provide a tailored plan for reviving or maintaining their good health.  You can read more about what they do by clicking here.  Or visit their learning centre to receive FREE information on everything from maintaining healthy trees and understanding what makes for good soil to fighting drought, to help your yard look its absolute best this year.  Last year I learned how I was cutting the lawn wrong and by correcting the problem, the grass started to bounce back (after I scorched it for years by letting it grow too long and then cutting it too short, exposing the poor little dry stuff underneath to the hot, hot sun).  This year I'm also going to implement their other lawn care tips and see if I can't get the lush, soft grass of my dreams.

Just add it to the long, scary list!

If you're looking at your own spring and summer to-do and know you're missing something, here's a handy little infographic that will give you some ideas for upgrading your backyard and patio.  Because, secretly, I just want everyone to feel as overwhelmed as I do...    


This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of TruGreen.ca. The opinions and text are all mine.

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April 11, 2017

A Cute, Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

This is the kind of DIY project where you see how much of a country mouse I've become... 

Spring has sprung - the first shipping vessel came to my city recently and the captain reported that there's barely any ice on Lake Superior, which is totally unbelievable.  The shipping season has opened earlier as a result and with surprisingly balmy temperatures, that familiar smell of spring (damp leaves and dog poop) is in the air already!

I'm excited.

It means we can get the boat out on the lake earlier, which means I can actually share more photos and (finally!) some aerial videos with our drone (last year we launched too late in the season because of repairs).  An early spring also means we can start tackling yard work pretty soon too - we just need those last few heaps of snow to melt, but I'm already seeing tons of grass!  To help move our yard work along, we bought a little utility trailer from Kijiji to use with our riding lawn mower to haul stuff around the property.  Wheelbarrows are for chumps.  These mini trailers are normally hundreds of bucks (this one is the most similar to our dump cart) but we got this for $80. 

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover
My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

It was a little rusty and beat up, though, but functioned perfectly.  Hubby asked me to paint it, but I was super busy with other projects and work, so he dangled this carrot: "you can paint in turquoise".

Sold.

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover
My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

I had a case of Rust-Oleum Harbor Blue in my spray paint stash and, after prepping the wagon (thorough wash, light sand), I blasted it with multiple thin, light coats - even the wheels!  Now I'm eyeing up our ugly old riding lawnmower too...

My Blue Utility Trailer Makeover

Between this trailer, our turquoise front door, and the turquoise guesthouse trim and door, I'm easing the neighbors into the day I decided to paint our entire garage bright turquoise with a huge, Instagram-worthy mural on the garage door.  #notkidding
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April 8, 2017

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

This post is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Tourism but the content (excluding photography) and opinions expressed here are my own.

Before our recent trip to Punta Cana, I honestly couldn't remember the last time we took a trip somewhere for vacation.  I logged a lot of miles going back and forth from here to Toronto for family emergencies and/or boat shopping, but those were hurried, stressful trips.  We had the luxury of going to Duluth, MN (twice!) to exchange a damaged bathtub - does that count as a vacation?  Before that, I spent time in Hungary for research but that was more than four years ago.  Times flies!  Prior to that, though, Hubby and I traveled quite a bit for work and leisure.  We traveled to Greece, France, Portugal and a little bit in Canada and the United States (including cities in Texas, New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Vermont).  Those North American trips were so much fun - we logged so many miles on our little hatchback at the time!  Road trips are my favorite because I love exploring little towns and finding random things to see - my Pyrex collection grew thanks to so many roadside antique shops.

Since coming home from our most recent trip, I can't help but miss how much we used to travel, especially those little trips.  Living in Ottawa, we were so much closer to other cities.  Here on Lake Superior we can feel pretty isolated at times, which is why our vacation felt SO nice.  But now I'm dreaming of more.  I've always wanted to go to Hawaii and Palm Springs, but then readers started suggesting places I'd never thought to visit, places with warm climates and more affordable hotels and more unique attractions.  It really opened my eyes, so when the South Dakota Department of Tourism reached out about crating a post about the incredible sights to see in the community of Hot Springs, I was intrigued and thought it would be a fun opportunity to consider a new place to add to our list of potential vacations - and maybe yours, too!

The photos have definitely proved to be quite enticing:


Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Angostura Rec Area
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Wild Horse Sanctuary
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Freedom Trail
Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota
Wind Cave National Park Wildlife

Close to canyons, the community of Hot Springs, South Dakota looks like it has a lot to offer outdoors enthusiasts.  From the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to Wind Cave National Park, there is so much wildlife to enjoy.  And yes, there really is a hot springs there!  Actually, in 1890 Evans Springs was built over sparkling springs of 87-degree mineral water, creating a sheltered space to relax and feel the healing rejuvenation of the water.  Ahhhh.  I could have definitely used that this winter!  I remember visiting a hot springs as a kid on vacation and my family needed to literally drag me out of there.  We left in such a hurry my Mom and I left our bathing suits behind by accident!  There are also lake resorts, an award-winning gold course, and even a 41,000-square-foot mammoth research center, which is pretty cool. 

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Sounds like this quaint little town - with more than 35 sandstone buildings! - would be such a relaxing place to get away from it all.

Travel Inspiration: Hot Springs, South Dakota

Has anyone been to Hot Springs, South Dakota?  Is it on your list of places to see?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

This post is sponsored by the South Dakota Department of Tourism but the content (excluding photography) and opinions expressed here are my own.
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March 23, 2017

DIY Stool with Bunny Ears

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Last fall I had this burning desire to make a little stool with bunny ears after seeing one in an advertisement for an airline.  A few days later, I spotted a little wood stool at the landfill:  

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Obviously the Universe was on board with me making a bunny stool too.  It was such a simple little furniture hack, but it turned out so adorable.  I have no idea why the heck I wanted to make this, but darn it if it doesn't make me laugh every time I look at it...  

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack

Those EARS! 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

After I lugged my new (old) stool home, I gave it a light sand and a wash and then let it dry.  It was grimey and chipped and needed a fresh coat of paint. 

Next Handy Hubby and I free-hand sketched two lopsided rabbit ears onto scrap plywood and, using a jigsaw, cut them out.  We were working on another project at the time, so this took two seconds. 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

I lightly sanded the edges of the ears for a smooth finish (you can also add some edge band), and then we affixed them to the stool, screwing them in from the bottom.  Easy peasy.

DIY Bunny Stool Hack

I was tempted to draw a face but my Mom said it would look more Scandi - and less kiddie - if I spray painted it all one color.  So I gave everything a blast of white spray primer + paint in a gloss finish.

It is the cutest thing ever and I have absolutely no legitimate use or need for it, but I have been using it for six months as a plant stand.  Picture a sweet little bunny face - or one in the shape of a fox! - for a sweet addition to a kid's play room. 

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack
DIY Bunny Stool Hack

So silly, but so perfect for spring, right?  I'm ready...

DIY Bunny Stool Hack
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March 17, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Take Me Back to Punta Cana...

First Trip to Punta Cana // Beach

We're back (kicking and screaming) from Punta Cana! 

Breathless Resort from Airplane

Hubby and I had never stayed at an all-inclusive resort before and it was such a bizarre experience.  Normally we holiday by traipsing through Europe in the rain, trying to take in every last castle and museum.  This was different because we never left the resort - and our wallets never left the safe.  It was weird to walk up to the bar or coffee shop and not pay.  But wow, was it nice!
 

We had such a fun time vacationing in the sun with our friends!  We unplugged, we read.  We drank too much, ate too much.  We fell asleep on the beach and developed bizarre sun burns.  It was incredibly relaxing - especially because we stayed at Breathless, an adults-only resort.  We toured the neighboring family-friendly resort and it was such a different energy.  The only bummer was that the weather was unseasonably chilly and we had a few windy and rainy a couple of days - the beach was even closed for a bit.  But we still had fun just hanging out (remember, the drinks are free!), plus we found the tennis court, which helped warm us up.  Even when it was too cold to swim, we strolled the beach and just enjoyed our toes in the sand.

I was deeply committed to fully relaxing on this trip.  I didn't bring my laptop, I barely looked at my phone, and I let my brain slip into neutral.  I also wanted to put down the camera.  I wanted to live in the moment, instead of frantically trying to capture it on camera.  So much of blogging is about always getting things in pictures and it really changes my experience of thing.  There were a lot of people doing incredibly in depth, sexy "photo shoots" in the waves - for social media, I'm betting.  One woman was completely taken out by a wave while she posed for the 100th angle, with her poor Instagram husband snapping away.  Meanwhile, I was down the beach like...


In hindsight, I wish I had more photos of the four of us - especially because I seemed to be wearing the exact same dress in the few photos we did take (despite dropping a ton of money on six new bathing suits and summer dresses!)  But in the moment, it felt so freeing to leave my camera and cell phone in the room safe.  On a particularly cold and windy day, Hubby and I did stroll around the resort and I snapped a few photos to remember how beautiful it was.

Palm Trees
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

We were upgraded for free to a swim up room, which was AMAZING!  There was a squiggly shaped pool right outside our rooms and because the pool was hardly ever used, it felt like like a private pool just for us.  We were across from the "party pool" so we could hear the music and feel the vibes, without having to fight for a sought after deck chair.  I loved this little luxury so much. 

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The party pool was just incredible - there was a swim up bar, too.  The whole resort had lots of places to swim and sunbathe.  The grounds were impeccably maintained, too - such beautiful plants!  

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The resort rooms were gorgeous, with a little open air courtyard to greet us.  I never snapped a photo of the inside of our room because we made a mess of it in seconds, madly flinging on our swim suits for a (prohibited) evening swim our first night.  After that we put up a travel clothesline so we could wash and dry stuff, and from then on it was gotch-city in our room.  But there are some great photos on the website - the rooms really are that pretty in real life.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

Sick of this dress yet?  I swear, I also bought this white eyelet one, this pretty green ikat one, this strapless maxi, this watercolor inspired one... There was even a pair of turquoise wedge sandals I have no proof existed.

To be honest, we only gussied up for dinner because during the day we tried to squeeze in as much time in the water as possible!  The resort was right on the ocean so it was a two second stroll through the resort pools, bars, and restaurants to reach the beach.  We've heard other resorts are larger and some even require a bus to reach the water.  This was so close we could hear the waves from our room.  We spent a LOT of time on the beach - you know me and being by the water!  There were a few "red flag" days, which meant swimming was prohibited due to waves, but we recklessly jumped in anyway and logged long hours in the ocean.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

The ocean was GORGEOUS!  Crystal clear and surprisingly warm (as long as the weather cooperated)!  Our friends did some snorkeling close to the coral reefs but I was too scared of cutting myself on the coral.

Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort
Punta Cana Breathless Resort

I'm a little bummed we didn't have the nicest weather - resort staff kept apologizing for the bizarre cold front.  After spending weeks carefully buying a summer wardrobe, I spent a couple of nights wrapped up in Hubby's hoodie or under a blanket.  Although we had a few perfect days, I definitely could have been warmer, but that's just the story of my life.  Some day someone will surely engrave that on my tombstone: "Daughter, wife, feminist. She led a full life, but she could have been warmer".

Luckily the restaurants and bars were so chic (and the food was delicious), so we didn't mind lingering over breakfast or lunch while we watched for better weather.  One section of the main restaurant had a wood, green and teal theme - with cactus sculptures that I need to make right now! - that quickly became my favorite (I already shared a peek on Instagram because I was so smitten):

Punta Cana Breathless Resort

I left feeling inspired and I am definitely going to be adding some more beachy accents to the lakehouse, that's for sure - something to tide me over until we can go somewhere warm again!  Any suggestions for where we can escape winter next year? 



I swear, I really brought other clothes.
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