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second complaint is that there's this ugly little period of spring when the beautiful glitteriness that is winter has been replaced by brown grass and muddy roads - no flowers or leaves yet - just MUD.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 The opinions and text are all mine.

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".


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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