50 Shades of White

Addie's House as it looks today.

Addie’s House as it looks today.

We are in the process of picking paint colors for Addie’s House.  This process is made one gazillion times easier with the internet.  A simple google search of: white house, silver metal roof and thousands of images pop before your eyes like magic.

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image via google

For example, before seeing what a cream house with a metal roof looked like (above) it was something we were considering.  After seeing the example we realized how much we prefer the sharp contrast of a white house against a green landscape as seen below.

image via google

image via google

My husband always like the underneath of a porch ceiling to be sky blue, but it was convenient to find this picture showing a blue ceiling with a white house and gray floor.  Pretty much exactly what we were planning.

image via google

image via google

Final decision = white on white, gray floor (and stairs) with a hint of sky blue on the ceilings.

Now for the door….

Front door

Front door

 

 


Weekend Progress 1

Back to our latest labor of love, the little house in Arkansas.  We call it “Addie’s House” since that’s the last person who lived there, she’d be my kids’ great-great grandmother.  Since Addie’s passing the house has seen some renters come and go but for the past decade it’s been left to get reclaimed by nature, just slowly breaking down.

Not on our watch!  So the first BIG step was the metal roof to stop the major leaks, big critters and such.  I don’t have a handy picture before the roof went on but it was a hefty project.  Next dire need was the front porch, one more round of a heavy, hot summer followed by a cold, wet winter and we’d probably need to rebuild the whole thing.  So to buy a little time we decided on a nice fresh coat of prime and paint.  Sure we could have just painted but primer is a bit more kid friendly and a good way to get them involved.

The family that wears overalls together, works together!

The family that wears overalls together, works together!

While the kids primed my husband and I sanded and then we all chipped in the to cover the porch floor with a nice fresh coat.

Say it with me: roll up, roll down. more paint, roll up, roll down.

Say it with me: roll up, roll down. more paint, roll up, roll down.

Nice difference, yes?

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Since it can’t all be work and playing is more fun we had our first family camping session  …..which turns out is quite a lot of work.

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Just steps from our day’s labor we set up our house for the evening, or houses as it were.  We made dinner – cheese, water crackers and salami, cold beer for the adults, sparkling lemonade for the kids, apples and s’mores for dessert followed by star gazing for our night’s entertainment.  As the sun went down the cooler temps were a welcome relief as we all fell into our sleeping bags not long after the moon and stars made their appearance.

For our next round of work we’ll be diving into the fun topic of removing mildew from the house’s exterior…..don’t even get me started on the interior!

P.S. A few more snap shots

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A walk in the woods behind Addie's house.

A walk in the woods behind Addie’s house.

 

100 year old pines and oaks.

100 year old pines and oaks.

These little pieces of moss are scattered throughout the forest, we have naming continents but this heart was too good to pass up.

These little pieces of moss are scattered throughout the forest, we have fun trying to spot the shapes of continents but this heart was too good to pass up.


Repopulation of the Night Furies

Meet Toothless, the lovable night fury from How to Train Your Dragon

Meet Toothless, the lovable night fury from How to Train Your Dragon

Halloween is nearly upon us and it’s a big holiday in our family.  My kids begin discussing costume possibilities in July.  This year my son made his proclamation in August, “I want to be Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon“.  I start trying to visualize some half-homemade type creations I can bang out for him.  Then in September, my daughter’s got her final choice, “I’m going to be Toothless too.”  Hmmmm.
“Did you check with your brother?”

“Yup, we are both going to be Toothless.”

“Okay, sounds good”.

Better than good, my job just got easier.

Then both my kids mention they are over trick-or-treating, they just want to hand out candy this year.

WHAT?  What kind of children have I raised that running from stranger to stranger and collecting all the contraband I never allow is now passé at the ripe ages of 7 and 9 years old?

So I decide we’ll find a party to attend all together and bring some spark back to this family favorite.  But now my husband and I need costumes………

“What if your dad and I also go as Toothless.”

“Oh yeah!  This is going to be awesome.”

“Yes, we’ve obviously been working on repopulating the night furies since the last movie came out.” (I think I’m very clever to work this all in).

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Kids:  Hoodies from Target, Black knee high socks for the tails also from Target, packed the tailed with left over packing materials, I used garbage bags that I cut and sewed for the wings and tails, mask from Etsy.

Parents:  Hat found Target, Black dress (old)

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One afternoon of sewing and voila, all finished.

We’ll even dress up twice this year thanks to our first “truck or treat”.

Hope everyone has a nice Halloween!


Getting Dirty

Growing up in a city I associated the word “dirty” with other people’s germs, your shopping cart that’s been touched by 100 other people, that guy who spit a loogie on the park bench, the money the cashier handed back to you – DIRTY.  In rural life there’s a whole different kind of dirty, one that’s associated with time outside, hard labor, on-going, never ending projects.

Me getting VERY dirty

Me getting VERY dirty

The past few weekends I’ve been able to spend time out in the country doing some hard, dirty work and I’ve found it’s cleansed my soul like nothing else.  NOTHING ELSE.  More than a bikram yoga class, more than a 5 mile run, more than a hike in the forests of France – pulling on a pair of work gloves and preceding to work until your soaked with sweat seems to be a little recipe for perfect contentment.  There’s a satisfaction associated with the piles of your labor, a newly weeded garden, a freshly painted porch, a rebuilt fence that no exercise regimen can compete with.  So I’m very excited to announce that my husband and I are embarking on a very dirty project.

The house project

The house project

Say hello to my husband’s great grandmother’s house.  Built in the early 1900’s to stand the tests of time we’ve decided to bring this little beauty back to the land of the living.  We’ve got a whisper of a budget and child labor so please don’t expect any Smitten Studio or Young House Love level of documentation or know-how as we undertake this enormous project.  But do expect a bit of Green Acres humor such as my son running with complete abandon right in a yellow jacket nest (4 stings later he’s learned how to not run through a field with high brush) or me unearthing a rattlesnake 3 hours into day one of our project though my husband who has spent years in this locale had never seen one venomous snake – Lucky me!

Meet the Western Pygmy Rattlesnake - my not new friend

Meet the Western Pygmy Rattlesnake – my not new friend

We are sure to gain a few bumps and bruises in the process but I’m hopeful we’ll not only survive but really LIVE!  Wish us luck.

 

 

 


Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

My, oh my, it’s a wonderful day today in my part of the world – sun shining, birds chirping, crispness in the air, the kind of day that begs to be lived outside!  It’s the kind of day that gets me thinking about Kinfolk, small gatherings with people I love, simple gestures, the balance of work, play, quiet.  As I set out to watch one of Kinfolk’s much loved videos, I tripped upon the fun news of Kinfolk launching an apparel company.  Fancy that!  No more wondering what to wear to your Kinfolk inspired Small Gatherings.  Then my eyes slipped to the bottom of the page for more fall inspired fashion and I saw this from Portland Monthly online magazine:

Ummm, is that girl wearing a sleeping bag?!?!?

Ummm, is that girl wearing a sleeping bag?!?!?

 

Move over Snuggie, zip on up in The Napsack by Poler Stuff.  This thing looks brilliant to me, but I also spend a lot of time figuring out how to wrap blankets around myself and go about my day, something like The Napsack would make perfect sense around a campsite.  Can’t you almost feel that fire warming your fingers and toes?

For more outside fun check out these:

photo via Poler Stuff blog

photo via Poler Stuff blog

Poler Stuff Tumblir

 

photo via Camp Brand Goods blog

photo via Camp Brand Goods blog

 

The blog from Camp Brand Goods, their Happy Camper sweatshirt makes me smile.

 

photo via Darling, Be Daring

photo via Darling, Be Daring

Lastly, for an urban jungle mash up, Darling, Be Daring.

 

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Daaaaa    Zip-A-Dee-A!


Twice as Nice – West Texas Edition

Photo via Mural from Alpine Art Walk

Photo via Mural from Alpine Art Walk

The past two weekends my family and I headed out West, some would say WAY out West. About 495 miles from Dallas lies the magical town of Alpine, Texas. Home to Sul Ross University, (which made a cameo in Richard Linklater’s amazing “Boyhood“), 30 miles from mountainous Fort Davis, 30 miles, in the other direction, is Marfa, my beloved Marfa, in another direction for less than 30 miles is Marathon, home of the Gage Hotel but more worth noting, 12 Gage Restaurant.  Want more?  Alpine is 70 miles from Big Bend National Park, 60 miles to Balmorhea, scuba diving in the desert anyone??  Basically it’s a hub bub of all kinds of goodness, here’s the 800 arrows take on it all.

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Soft Shell Turtle and fish at Balmorhea

 

Where we stayed:

Weekend 1:  Air BnB – Casita Velveeta (listing no longer available on Air BnB), in case this place does reappear for rent I wouldn’t recommend it, even at $85.00/night, it felt like we over paid.  Our friends stayed here using VRBO and it was lovely!  If you don’t want to rent, I would recommend the Guest Lofts from the Holland Hotel, these can get very pricey but start at $125, and for a very simple stay I’d check out Antelope Lodge (starting at $85/night, it’s where I’d like to stay next go around).

A glimpse of colorful Casita Velveeta and school on the road with the kids.

A glimpse of colorful Casita Velveeta and school on the road with the kids.

Weekend 2:  We stayed at the Alpine Rock House, which is a nice part of Alpine (a little farther from the train horns), you can easily walk to Plaine for your coffee or Blue Bell needs. it’s a beautiful house, great for a family but also wonderful if you were traveling with friends, lots of room to spread out.  Last word on renting versus a hotel, the kitchen is great to have because while the restaurants left a lot to be desired the natural grocery store is amazing!

Pointing the way to Holland Hotel Guest Lofts

Pointing the way to Holland Hotel Guest Lofts

Where we ate:

Alpine

Judy’s Bread and Breakfast is about the only breakfast game into unless you count McDonald’s, which I don’t.  It’s not good (yes I even tried the cinnamon roll, I still won’t call it good), but the place and people are great and it’s one of those things that makes Alpine a nice place to live.

Guzzi Up – If you must go here don’t have pizza, I repeat do not have pizza, salads are pretty good.  Also unless you love the latest tween rock videos (personally I’m a fan) you may wanted to be seated away from the TV’s, they are huge.

La Trattoria or La Trot (if you’re trying to be a local) – meh.

Reata – Really expensive meh.

Plaine – Sister to Frama in Marfa, this laundry mat, coffee, ice cream bar is awesome-ness.

Little Mexico Cafe – You are better off going hungry.  Couldn’t find an online presence for Little Mexico Cafe, but it’s on Murphy Street.  Do yourself a favor, keep on walking to Los Jalapenos which was closing as we pulled up but looks very promising!

Blue Water Natural Foods – Not a restaurant, but if you rent a house you can stock up here with most of what you could find at Whole Foods or other natural grocery.  Great quality  produce, impressive selection overall, it’ll be my FIRST stop to stock up next time we are in Alpine!

 Marathon –

12 Gage Restaurant and White Buffalo Bar – You can order from the bar menu while dining at the restaurant.  Venison sliders, butternut and apple bisque, the lovely puff pastry below.  Wash it all down with Ranch Water (tequila, Topo Chico, lime juice and ice) and enjoy the party!

Veggie Puff Pastry filled with quinoa, veggies and feta from 12 Gage

Veggie Puff Pastry filled with quinoa, veggies and feta from 12 Gage

Marfa – 

We didn’t try anything new this time, revisited old favorites, all were good!  Food Shark – fatuous salad with hummus and falafel,  Frama for chai latte, Maiya’s for a Paloma and ragu (yes it’s $22 for pasta, yes I still think it’s worth it).  Sad we couldn’t swing by Museum of Electronic Wonders and late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour but instead we were watching the cool kids at the Trans-Pecos music festival at El Cosmico.

 

What we did:

photo via my husband (really that goes for all photos unless otherwise noted)

photo via my husband (really that goes for all photos unless otherwise noted)

Day trips:  Lajitas – I’d skip this in the future and would not recommend, basically just a fancy resort in the middle of the desert, food was terrible.

Terlingua – Fun to see this little town, less than an hour outside of Alpine and the drive is spectacular especially if you get a cloudy day bringing a storm like we were lucky enough to witness!

Terlingua's La Kiva

Terlingua’s La Kiva

Balmorhea – A Texas State Park with a spring all decked out for swimming, snorkeling and even scuba diving.  Depth goes down to about 25 ft, 3 ft being the most shallow.  Water was a comfy temp once in but cold enough to put your game face on before jumping. High dive provided fun and loads of entertainment for all the viewers.  We headed out before eating but I hear there’s fantastic Mexican food right outside the park (also allows for camping and cabin stay).  Insider tip:  To get the fish stirred up arm yourself with some cheese crackers and spray cheese – gross yes, but the fish went nuts!  To tempt the soft shell turtle “weenies” or hot dogs (are these the same?)  work best but watch your fingers while swimming, your little piggies look a lot like weenies too!

Balmorhea was by far our kids' favorite part of the trip.

Balmorhea was by far our kids’ favorite part of the trip.

Marfa – While Marfa is known for art, food, cool kids, our cool kids love it for the train tracks.  While it might not be the kid friendliest place, my kids think Marfa is a treasure trove of “stuff by the train tracks”.  We flatten coins, they rock hound, get dusty and dirty, really what’s not to love.

Those boots look familiar?  The Blundstones just keep going!

Those boots look familiar? The Blundstones just keep going!

we stopped in at the Trans-Pecos Music Festival happening at El Cosmico and couldn’t take our eyes off of the side show game involving hammers flying into the air, banging an opponents nail into the stump (in the middle of the circle) and lots of hipster watching.  Ah, Marfa!

If you are curious about the  all male players rest assured the ladies were next up and ready to fling some hammers!

If you are curious about the all male players rest assured the ladies were next up and ready to fling some hammers!

Alpine – We attended an outdoor dinner presented by Times Ten Cellars at their vineyard  overlooking Cathedral Mountain.  This isn’t a regular happening but we’ll certainly try to make it to these randomly schedules dinners as often as we can.

Our greeting as we arrived on the gorgeous scene at Times Ten Vineyard.

Our greeting as we arrived on the gorgeous scene at Times Ten Vineyard.

The west Texas skies were kind enough to provide us with a side show throughout the evening, the sunset, that gave way to the breathtaking scene below all while 5 courses came and went,  wine glasses were filled and drained, and prices of Alpine real estate were discussed at every table.

Cathedral Mountain

Cathedral Mountain

Really you can’t go wrong with a visit to this part of the world.  So many things to see and do even if you just sit and watch the sky.  Grab your crew, pack up the car and have a nice journey, stretching and napping are encouraged.

They grow up sooooo fast.

They grow up sooooo fast.

One last mention of thanks to my handsome husband, for two amazing weekends and always going above and beyond (including looking after my sun hat long after the sun disappeared).  Love rocks.

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