Library Haul


Thanks to my good friend Jill (and her oh-so-great list of Something Good that she publishes every Monday, that has so much good overflowing I can never read all of it), I discovered Justine’s blog Allowing Myself and a recurring feature called Library Haul. You know how wonderful it feels when you discover someone else who does something you love that you thought maybe only you do? That’s how I felt when I read this:

“I know, it’s a large haul this time (don’t judge). I bet I won’t even read 3 of these before they’re due back, but it’s such a comfort to pile books into my bag a drag them home to leaf through when I’m feeling untethered.”

Last Saturday some things weren’t going well, but it was a sunny afternoon and I got Cane to go to the library with me, where he sat and Facebookered while I just wandered though the stacks, one of my happiest places to be.

As you can probably guess, I was focusing on work more than my own pleasure, but honestly, it’s all pleasure. How cool is it that I have a job that requires me to read kid lit? (Really dang cool, that’s how cool.) Like Justine, I know when I’m checking the books out that I likely won’t read half of them. It’s the journey, not the destination. And the joy of the hunt.


This is one I am reading. It is so, so good. A graphic novel great for any tween girl who’s got a dream–and it’s set in Portland. And I saw the Rose City Rollers just last spring! Highly recommend.

So, are Justine and I the only ones? Any of you library haulers? Why? And what kinds of books do you get? And please let me know what you’re reading…I’d love some new suggestions. Haven’t been able to hook into anything since I finished All the Light We Cannot See. Such a great book…

Everywhere you look

I see so many cool things in the course of my days–potential projects are everywhere! Most come into my viewfinder and pass right out, but some I feel compelled to capture with my phone’s camera, always sure that I will make something just like that cool something I’m seeing.

Guess how many of these dream projects I’ve actually tackled?

Actually, it’s kind of hard to say. It depends on how you define “tackled.” To make me feel like there might be some purpose in all these near-hits that are pretty-much misses (so far), I thought I’d like to put them in one place here and share them with you. Maybe they’ll inspire you to make some great something? And then I can feel better about it the next time I take a picture “for later.” 🙂

Mappy Easter Eggs


Aren’t these super-cute/cool looking? I’ve never come close to making anything like these. I’ve gotten stumped on what to use for eggs. I know I could blow out the insides of some raw eggs and then mod podge some kind of ephemera to them, but blowing out the inside of eggs would likely make me dizzy. Or get a migraine. And I hardly decorate for Easter, and don’t really like the idea of decorating for holidays or seasons…Still, I really like these. Maybe next spring…

Garden Screen

IMG_0264This one we actually kinda did. Sorta. We wanted to build a screen to hide our garbage cans, and we wanted the screen to contain plants. We found these outside a restaurant somewhere, and I thought they were pretty ingenious. Our version was pretty similar. I’m going to call this one an inspiration-turned-action victory!

Except, sadly, that screen is no more. It got pulverized in a bad windstorm last winter. How quickly one can fall from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat!

Fairy Chair Garden


OK, so I was never gonna make a garden for fairies. But something about this was just so stinkin’ cute. And it’s made in an old chair, which I have a well-documented soft spot for.

Because I went cold turkey on chairs that need rehab, I don’t have any likely candidates for this project. But I have jumped on the succulent bandwagon and have several in our house. Nothing as twee as the little vignette above, though.

mod Peg Board


Um, yeah:  This was taken at Chipotle. I no longer remember why I thought we needed pegboard with giant holes or where I thought we’d put it or how I thought we’d make it, but I do remember thinking this looked cool. Still do. Never going to to this, however (all those pesky why/where/how questions I can’t answer).

Chunky Picnic Tables


I’m not really sure why I thought these tables were something snap-worthy. What they look like to me now is expensive. Maybe it was that they looked easy to build? We still don’t have a well-functioning picnic table, but we talk about building one every once in a while.

Lattice Pillow


Gotta like the finger in this one! There was something about this pillow I thought was way-groovy. Still do, and this is one project I actually started. Got stymied by the very thin strips of fabric. Several burned fingers (from the iron) later, I abandoned it. Should have known fingers would be my downfall with this venture.

Big Embroidery


We did some renovation work on our bedroom this summer, and I tried to convince Cane that this could make a super-cool headboard. He didn’t share my vision. 🙂 But there’s something about this super-sized embroidery that’s really appealing to me. Makes me want to embroider something with big, chunky fibers of some sort. It could happen.

Vertical Planter


I liked this take on a vertical planter–maybe because it doesn’t have to be attached to the side of the house. Something about this design appealed to me. I can’t really remember what it was now, but I still like the planter all the same!

Burlap Sack Planters

IMG_0572Speaking of planters…I just thought these were clever. Burlap is so inexpensive, and making these would be a lot easier than building a box. For me, at least. But this is another one on the list of projects not done.

Salvaged Christmas Tree


Add this to the list of projects Killed-by-Cane. Probably a mercy killing. I’m pretty sure I snapped this one during the holidays, and I’m pretty sure I said something like this:

“Just think! We’d never have to wrestle a real tree into the house again! No more needles to sweep and vacuum! And it’s recycling instead of killing a tree! It’s UP-cycling, actually. With house parts. And we’re all about houses and re-use and all that junk!”

And I’m pretty sure he said something like:

“But we’d have to store it. And it’s ugly.”

This right here captures everything about why we are generally a good team.

Book Page Snowballs


I am not a big holiday decorator. (I’ll spare you all the reasons why.) But I have loved and longed for these ever since I first saw them 3 or 4 years ago at Powell’s bookstore, where they are hung for the holidays. Thanks to a bountiful source of discarded book pages, I have the paper. Last year I even went so far as to research how to sew a thick stack of paper, and I bought a special needle for my sewing machine. I also bought a cool gizmo to cut the paper into circles. Still haven’t made them. Maybe this will be the year…and I’ll make the mappy eggs right after I make these.

How about you?

Am I the only one who sees inspiration everywhere? You want to tackle any of the projects I’m not going to get to? (So many projects, so little time…) If you do, I would love to see your results. 🙂

Going over “The Edge”

If I were a Puritan and a fashion blogger, I wouldn’t have to worry about what to wear/blog about for the fall because it would be nothing but hair shirt.


I mean, what kind of blogger gives the first part of a two-part story and then leaves it hanging for weeks? One who should likely be punished for abusing her readers so.

Luckily (for me), I am  neither a Puritan or a fashion blogger, so I won’t have to go there. I will, however, finally finish the story of barking wieners, spontaneously shattering glass, janky walls, and edges that I began right here.

When I left off, we had a broken glass door, a wall with painted-over wallpaper, and a room with different-colored walls and different kinds of window trim. Although I debated the true start of this story, the true start of the story-telling was this image, which I used for a photography challenge’s theme of “edge.”

august break edge

This image focuses on the janky wall, and  here is what I want to say about that:

Everything anyone has ever told you about how it’s more trouble to try going around a problem than through is right. I mean, I know this, but it seems to be a lesson I have to keep learning.

When we first moved in to our house four years ago, we didn’t want to work through the problem of this obviously bad wall job. So we went around it by slapping some paint over the wallpaper and telling ourselves that it was all good.

It wasn’t. It didn’t look good, and it just bothered me, knowing that we’d taken a problem and compounded it. It wasn’t something I lost sleep over, but every time I noticed something that reminded me there was paper under that wall’s paint, it niggled at me.

Nonetheless, I was none too pleased when Cane casually threw out this summer that we should probably strip the wallpaper off the wall.

“What?!?” I may have sputtered. “You said that we were NEVER going to take the paper off! You said that the wall was a HUGE problem that we weren’t going to want to deal with! THAT’S the ONLY reason I agreed to paint over it!” (Yes, there was some all-caps going on during this conversation.)

“Oh,” he said, CALMLY, “I don’t think it will be any big deal.” (Isn’t is infuriating when someone is calm in the face of your all-caps rant? It’s like the calm is its own kind of all-caps. A much classier kind than yours, which makes it all the more infuriating.)

But why, you may be wondering, was this even an issue at all? Isn’t this story really about the door that shattered? Isn’t that door on a different wall?  How are these things even connected?

Actually, I’m no longer even sure.

I think it started with replacing the wood trim around all the windows in the room.

living room wallpaper

This is the living room right after we moved in, when all the trim was painted white. You can also see the wallpaper we painted over. This was taken standing in front of the sliding glass door.

Replacing the wood trim is something I was not originally on board with.

“Why would we tear out perfectly good trim and replace it with perfectly good trim just because we can’t figure out the right color to paint it?” I asked Cane, who wanted to put in new, stained trim. “That doesn’t seem to be very in keeping with our values. You know, re-use, upcycle, don’t rape the planet and all that.”


In this other old photo you can see two of the windows with trim painted brown, our first “fix.” We stripped the paint from the mantel, where you can see stained wood. We have long wished that all the wood had been left in its original state.

He couldn’t really argue with me; he acknowledged the validity of all that, but still:  He just really wanted to replace the trim. So he did one window, and I had to admit that I really did like it much better.

“I know it’s wrong,” I said. “But it just feels so much more right than the painted trim.” Although preserving the planet’s resources is something we do value quite a lot, another thing we value is preserving old homes. We love homes that show their age (in all the right ways), and as much as we can we’ve wanted to let our home show it’s 70s roots without shame. We know this house originally had dark-stained wood trim, and when Cane put that back on one of the windows, I wanted it on all of them. So he started swapping them out, one wall at a time, and I’d repaint the wall while the trim was off.

wood trim closeup

We’d worked our way through re-trimming and re-painting the two biggest walls of the room, and then stalled when we got to the one with the sliding glass door.

Although we love us some original home features, this was one original feature we didn’t much love. The glass was perpetually cloudy (broken seal). It let in tons of heat in the summer and cold in the winter. Because of both things, we hung curtains over it, which seemed just kind of aesthetically weird.

This is another old photo. We were never happy with this fix.

This is another old photo. We were never happy with this fix.

So, Cane wasn’t crazy about the idea of swapping out the trim around this door that just wasn’t right. Why put in new trim if that door was going to be coming out later? But:  We weren’t feeling like replacing the door was a high-enough priority to do it anytime soon. And what kind of door would we put in, anyway? We chose by not choosing, and we were just living with all the different wall colors/window trims. You can do that just fine, you know?

Then, the door gods decided to make us choose by smiting our door for no good reason.


We went around and around on what to replace the door with. Because we don’t actually use the room as a dining room, we thought about putting in a more conventional door that would make more of the wall a solid wall. That, of course, would require re-building part of the wall and messing with the siding on the outside of the house. Big hassle and more money.

We thought about putting in French doors, because:  French doors. Everyone loves French doors and no one loves a sliding glass door. But French doors cost more, and that’s not in keeping with the original design of the house.

We thought about sliding glass doors with little blinds built into the glass, so that we could have the insulating benefits of curtains without having to have curtains. Again, cost more.

We spent several months hemming and hawing and visiting various places to buy doors and trying to figure out some way to do this that wouldn’t cost a boatload of money AND would give us a door we actually liked, rather than tolerated/tried to work around.

Eventually, we decided there wasn’t any way to fix this problem right without spending a boatload of money. The easiest, cheapest solution would have been to buy a budget slider, the kind with bright white plastic trim that would not look very nice (to us). And would still be a significant sum of money, and I’d likely still want to cover it with curtains.

It was just grinding on me, the idea of spending a good amount of money on something I would not even like.

So, we decided to bite the bullet. We ordered a wood Pella sliding door with low-e glass. No need for curtains or built-in blinds, and this choice would be closest to the house’s origins. We bought it unstained, so that we could  match it to the window trim Cane’s been putting in.


And, oh yeah, we paid for installation, too.”No DIY,” I said. I am not willing to mess with possible water issues and/or messing up that beautiful, expensive door.” Cane agreed.

And so we had the door installed, and Cane put in new trim around it, and you know what? It’s beautiful.

My photos are not going to capture how lovely this room feels now. I have neither the skill nor the time required to compensate for my skill to get really good shots of a light-filled room. But it feels great in here.

My photos are not going to capture how lovely this room feels now. I have neither the skill nor the time required to compensate for my skill to get really good shots of a light-filled room. Be we love it. Even our kids who have not liked many of our house changes like this one. That feels like a huge win.

I have come to understand that sliding glass doors are not, by definition, ugly. This door makes me love sliders, something I didn’t think possible. It is so right, I can’t believe we even thought about French doors or partially closing the wall. We love all the light that comes in, and we love all the dark wood. It feels as if it’s the way the house was supposed to be. It’s something I’m not going to be able to capture in photos, but it feels like we healed this part of the house.

It's not just an aesthetic healing. This was installed during a week of 90+ weather. We felt the difference in insulation quality instantly. No need for curtains! Yay!

It’s not just an aesthetic healing. We felt the difference in insulation quality instantly. The new door works so much better, too. It slides easily and has a working lock.

This brings us to the adjacent, janky wall. That wall has trim, too, around the opening that leads to the kitchen. After we put in the beautiful new slider, the janky wall and it’s painted trim just seemed unacceptable to both of us. Cane refused to change the trim until we fixed the wall color, and I refused to put more paint on the paper. We were at a standstill.

“Let’s just tear off the paper,” he said.

And then he did like he does, and he just started tearing.


And you know what? It wasn’t that bad at all. In fact, this was the easiest wallpaper removal we’ve experienced. So much for conventional wisdom. It seemed as if the paint made it easier for the paper to come off in nice, big, satisfying strips.

The wall underneath it was kind of janky, just as we suspected. Cane put a skim coat over the whole wall and sanded it down. It’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly fine. We still have the weirdness at the base of the wall where it was clearly added onto, but the baseboard covers it, and we have a bookcase in front of it. That doesn’t niggle at me the way the paint over the paper did.

We had a fair amount of this kind of thing under the wallpaper.

We had a fair amount of this kind of thing under the wallpaper.

And some of this happened.

And some of this happened, too. But that was pretty easy to fix.

In the very first post that led to this two-parter, I said that there was a breakthrough in this story. It was a breakthrough in understanding, and here’s mine:

  1. The “easy” way is often a harder way.
  2. Things that are supposed to be hard are not always hard.
  3. Sometimes, it’s worth it to pay more.
  4. What’s “right” isn’t always clear/easy.

I do still feel pulled by competing desires to preserve resources and restore this house to its more original glory. What I’m seeing, though, is that these may not be as competing as I once thought. We like this room so much better than we did when we were trying to slap some lipstick on the pig of old renovation mistakes, rather than truly fixing them. Maybe, doing that is a way to preserve the whole house. Maybe, it will make this house more lovable, so that the next owners won’t feel the need to spend money and resources fixing what ain’t even broken.

We sure love it way more now than we did when we first moved in.

This is what the space looked like during our pre-buy inspection.

This is what the space looked like during our pre-buy inspection.

This is another old photo. We were never happy with this fix.

One of our many iterations of this space. Painted trim on the window, curtains covering the door.


How it looks today. When we swapped out the trim we also changed the blinds on the window.

Of course, in true give-a-mouse-a-cookie fashion, I’ve now got my sights set on the kitchen. The wood trim around the opening to that room makes me want to swap out all the painted window trim in there. Which brings up the question of the tile backsplash that butts up against the trim. Which is horrible because the grout is stained beyond fixing, but changing the backsplash means changing the countertops, too. And if we’re going to change the countertops, we really should do something about the cabinets covered in laminate that are starting to peel…


It’s just not fair…

…of me to keep you on “The Edge” of your seats. I know, especially when it’s taking me so long to get posts written these days. But I just have to share the awesomeness that is the Clackamas County Fair before it gets any further away from me. Although we technically have a few weeks of summer left, it’s pretty much done. I need one last gasp celebration of all that is the rural county fair before the summer is really and truly over.


If you’d like to see a lovely depiction of the fair, full of artfully-shot photos and adorable little-kid goodness, I encourage you to visit Alicia Paulsen’s post about her day at the fair. She is the writer of Posie Gets Cozy, a blog that makes me want to sit and sew and knit and cook good food and snuggle up in sweet, old-fashioned quilts.

But then come right back so you can see the view from our sometimes twisted lens.


Fruit/vegetable sculpture. Of…something?

There was, of course, the standard fair fare–rides, games, high-fat food.



There were also the things that make me wonder about some people. And sigh a lot.

redneck signs

demolition derby

I’d never been to a demolition derby. Destruction just for the fun of it isn’t really my kind of fun.

I didn’t get many photos of the standard fare because that’s not what really draws me to the fair. What gets me are the things that make my heart feel so tender about us humans and what we do with our brief time on this planet.

llama judging

cowboy boots

The llama judging may have been my favorite part of the day, watching kids decked out in their best jeans and their boots, so serious and earnest as they brought their animals forward to be inspected.

It brought back such vivid memories of Fern at the fair in Charlotte’s Web that I went home and read some of those passages aloud to Cane. (We roared at how her parents sent her and her brother off with 50 cents to last the whole day. Some things have certainly changed!)


There is so much creative energy and work on display at the fair, and something about seeing so much of it gathered in one place touches me like few other things do.

I love thinking about the origins of county fairs, how they were ways to celebrate the skills so essential to rural life.


This gorgeous coat was sewn by a 13-year-old. Wish I had such mad skills!

This gorgeous coat was sewn by a 13-year-old. Wish I had such mad skills!


Look at this amazing dress!


And this, which is amazing in a totally different way. A modern take on feed sack reuse. Love it.

What gets me even more than displays of useful, utilitarian skills are the ones that show how deep our need to create is, in ways that go beyond the purely practical.

The tiniest little succulents you ever did see.

The tiniest little succulents you ever did see.


Welcome to Sherwood Forest. Lego-style.


So many paintings, of such a wide range of subjects.

A Wizard of Oz-themed table setting.

The table-setting event is one of our favorites. This was a Wizard of Oz-themed one.


A sweet little flower arrangement.


An “I Spy” quilt. How I would have loved this for my kids when they were small.


A dress embellished with paint. Each button had a unique design.

And, finally, I also loved the displays of collections. It seems Marie Kondo has all kinds of us thinking about whether or not objects “spark joy” in us, but the creators of these displays have clearly been tuned into their sources of joy for some time:



I have a collection of teacups from my grandmothers and great-grandmothers much like this one.


"Barbie's Wide Variety of Shoes" was definitely our favorite collection!

“Barbie’s Wide Variety of Shoes” was definitely our favorite collection!

When I began my month-long August photo project (which I pretty much abandoned mid-way), I wondered about photography and how it impacts my relationship with experience. What I realized carrying my camera around the fair is this:  I like photography when I’m focused on exploring a topic or idea–but not so much when I’m trying to make good photos.

As I’m sure you can tell, I didn’t do much more than point and shoot while at the fair. I didn’t want to fuss much with framing my shots, and I wanted even less to fuss with camera settings. What I wanted to do was capture images to help me remember what I was loving about the fair, and I liked how capturing images was getting me to think about what I love and why I love it. It was OK because I was experiencing it with someone else who was taking photos for the same reasons; the photo-taking was integral to our experience, not something to capture it.

I guess this means I won’t ever be a great photographer, and photography isn’t really one of my creative outlets. But that’s OK. Sometimes I’ll still get lucky and take some great photos.


We stopped at a dahlia farm on our way to the fair. I kinda like this one.

I promise to finish the Edge story asap. We did go back to work this week, so it might be a few days before I get to it. 🙂