Friday, November 30, 2018

A New Use For A Gift Box

The holiday season has begun and it seems to be moving by quite fast. Before I jump into the holiday season with both feet - well, I might not jump, I may try to sneak or stroll in - I want to share a way you can use a gift box in a new way. Something you might not have considered. I certainly didn't but my sweet, little dog gave me the idea.

Shortly after my dear mother passed away early last year I cleared some things from a storage cabinet in her garage. She had a big gift box that I decided to take home with me. Another thing I added to my car that day was a very soft, cozy blue throw pillow. The pillow fit inside the gift box so that's where it traveled as I drove a few blocks to my house. The box and pillow stayed on the back seat of my car for a few days. A few days later my little dog, Joey, rode in the car with me while I ran an errand. It wasn't long before he discovered the box and the soft pillow on the seat of the car. He must have decided that it was the perfect place to curl up and take a nap. He loves to sleep on cozy, soft things and this was an opportunity he just resist. I'm sure he thought the box and pillow were meant for him.

After that ride in the car I took the box into the house and decided to let him have it for a bed. Joey is not allowed to have a 'real' doggie bed anymore - the fabric kind with stuffing inside. He chews holes in the fabric and delights in pulling the stuffing out. We have tried nasty-tasting spray made to prevent dogs from chewing things. It works for a few hours and then he ignores it and chews his bed anyway. We've tried many times and no soft dog bed has survived. So, when he adopted the big gift box and soft pillow it seemed like the perfect solution. He doesn't chew on the box or the pillow and that's a good thing. The gift box and pillow even ended up on the back seat of our truck when we left for our Grand Trip last year. It was a good place for Joey to nap while riding down the road on our long trip.
Time went by and the gift box began to show wear. Joey had stretched and moved so much that he eventually kicked out one end of the box! My sweetheart did what a lot of guys would do - he fixed it with duct tape! The box held on for a year, then a year and a half and a few more months. Recently, it seemed it was time to replace the box. But where would I find another big, square, sturdy box? Putting on my thinking cap - and arming myself with coupons - I headed to a fabric and craft store nearby. And I found the perfect box. It was more sturdy than my sweet mother's big gift box. It had a lid but that didn't stop me. I knew exactly what to do - and it was just right. So, the new gift box came home, was thoroughly inspected by Joey and then. . .he hopped in and settled down. He liked it! Lid and all. (Notice which box I chose. Perfect, isn't it?)
A day or two later - when he wasn't looking! - I carefully cut the lid away from the box. He knew immediately that something had changed but he checked it out and hopped right in - yes, he hops in - and he settled right down for a long nap.
Sometimes he just sits in his new box with his head held high as he watches the world go by. . .
And sometimes he rests his head and pays attention to the world outside his little box.
And when the mood strikes, usually when the sun shines, he hops out of his box and climbs up on the love seat to see what's going on outside.
When there's nothing exciting going on outside he closes his eyes and goes back to sleep.
So, my friends, if you ever need a doggie bed you might want to try a gift box. If you have an extra big gift box lying around you might try to find a little dog who needs a bed!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Lost and Found

A lot has happened since I shared my last post. We've made a couple of short trips with our cabin-on-wheels and made more memories to treasure. And - in the middle of it all - my blog disappeared. Again! I shared the loss on Facebook and some of my blog friends questioned why my blog was lost when they have never had that problem. I shared the issues with them and how my blog differs from theirs. Here's what happened. I first started blogging with a 'generic' blog through blogger. That meant that my blog address ended with Then, a few years ago I decided to purchase my own domain so my blog could easily be found. That's when the 'address' changed to No blogspot. Just my own blog name. And that's exactly where the issue all came about.

This is the third time my blog has disappeared - all because my private domain didn't renew as it should. So - it expired. Thankfully, each time a family member or friend has alerted me that my blog wasn't where it should be. The first time took some serious detective work to get a solution. The second time it happened I had to jump through many, very confusing hoops to get it back. It seemed that the issues had been resolved and this wouldn't happen again. Both times - and this time - they were certain that I received an email notice that my blog renewal was due. My annual payment was set to auto-renew but that didn't happen. Google's Customer Service can be very confusing and I was never able to get back to the online account where I could check my billing and contact information.  Then, it happened again. When it shouldn't have. Again I was not able to get into my account so I could do anything about it. Requests for help were sent and no one responded. Then, in desperation I did more research and found that Google is the 'third party owner' of my private domain. So I reached out to Enom, one of several companies who sell private domains, the company that sold it to me - with Google in the middle. I found a phone number for Enom to see if someone there could intervene and help me. I was very pleased to see that they are in the U.S. and based just a few hours north of my home. In the same time zone.  A very sweet young lady answered my call. Within minutes she discovered and explained the problem. My email address on file was wrong. It had never been changed as I was told it had - and it had not been set to auto-renew, as it should have been. This sweet, helpful young lady made an offer for me to consider. Since my 'Google' affiliation had expired and Google's policy does not give a grace period, I could renew it directly through Enom and she offered to take care of the details to restore my blog. That means in the future I can deal with them directly. With no one in the middle. I was already impressed with the level of Customer Service she offered and it appeared that their site is extremely user friendly.  I didn't have to think about that offer for long. Within minutes she set up an account for me, sent me an email with details about how to pay and where to check to make sure my information was correct and up-to-date. Then, within minutes, my blog was back online. It was found! I am very happy with the decision I made.  Not only did she give me kind, courteous help to get my blog back - she emailed me after everything was said and done. She expressed thanks for allowing her to help me! Her thanking me? Really, I was the one who was thankful for her. She gave me her direct line and email so I can contact her in the future if I have questions or need help. So - I'm back! Ready to go and encouraged that there are still people 'out there' who are kind and patient and helpful. And grateful for the chance to help.

Now all I need to do is to sort through and organize about a million photos and get back to more regular blogging. See you here again. Soon.

I'm grateful to be here and I'm grateful for you, my dear blog friends, who add a bit of sunshine to my day.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

An Ending, A Change of Plans and New Plans

Oh, my! I really didn't mean to wait so long to write another blog post. But, as you will see, life has been crazy busy around here and things have been happening. Some expected and some not so much. It's all good - really, it is. Major plans had to be changed and once they were we had such peace. We know we're right where we belong these days and we're happy to be here. So. . .let me share a bit of what's been going on.

I'll begin with the end - an ending we had worked toward for a long time. A lot of hard work and what seemed like endless hours went into the final result. After much prayer and thought and some hard decisions about my dear, little mother's home we knew we should sell it. That was not an easy thing for me or for our kids and grandkids but it was the right thing to do. I was torn about it at first. We had thoughts of keeping her house - the home my father built while I was in high school, the only family home my children and their children have ever known. My roots were there which made the decision harder. But, as we took stock of our needs and how that home and ours would meet our needs we knew selling was the right thing. Then, God brought us buyers that we never could have dreamed possible. Friends!!! A young couple who knew and loved my dear mother. They never got to meet my father but they knew of the heritage of the home and they wanted to continue to build a heritage for their family, following in my parents' footsteps. My mother absolutely adored them and their little girl and I think my mother may have done a happy dance in Heaven about this decision. We have been in their home for dinner and have walked around the yard to talk about things growing there and stories of life on the big back deck and yard. We were thrilled when the day finally came to turn everything over to them. Yes, we walked away with a sense of freedom but knowing that we will always be welcome to return and visit. And we have.
This photo was taken while my dear mother still lived here. We had to take out the big trees on the left due to disease and we trimmed back the shrubs outside the bedroom area to the left to open things up and let more light inside. We added a new roof before the sale was final and new house numbers chosen by the new owners. Things look a bit different now but the house is still wonderful and is loved by our sweet friends who call it home.

We had BIG plans for the summer and I could hardly wait to share them with you but shortly after my mother's house sale was final we knew we needed to completely change those plans. We were SO excited about our plans and could hardly wait to leave home and travel north - north to Alaska. For the whole summer! With our cabin-on-wheels. We read every book and pamphlet and brochure we could find. We planned and plotted our trip and we were part of a Facebook group of many others who were going north with their RV's this summer. We wouldn't travel with them but it was almost for sure that we would meet up with some of them along the way. This was a big dream on our bucket list - has been for many years - and we could hardly wait.
But those plans had to be changed for several reasons, The sale of my dear mother's home was delayed almost a month beyond what we had requested. This made finalizing the other business of her estate impossible to complete before our planned departure date. Add to that the fact that the main entry door of our new cabin-on-wheels had a defect that caused the door and frame to be out of alignment enough that opening and closing was becoming a major problem. We had sensed a problem soon after we brought it home and had it back in the shop a couple of times for work that we hoped would fix the issue. In the end, a complete new door had to be ordered. At first we thought we might  wait until the new door installed and then leave for Alaska a bit later than planned. We're so glad we decided against that idea! We were told it should arrive and be installed mid-June. At this moment, we're still waiting!  We just heard that the factory has just now begun to manufacture our new door. They say it will take four weeks to manufacture and ship to our dealer for installation.  In the meantime our dealer's service department was able to do a temporary 'fix' so we can still use the door without much problem. And then another thing happened that let us know we had to change plans. My sweetheart had his routine dental exam and learned that he needed oral surgery and some other work that shouldn't be postponed until we returned in the fall. Once we knew about that the decision was quick. We knew what we had to do and we had total peace as soon as the decision was made. We knew this summer was not the time to leave home and head north. We haven't regretted it for a moment. We're following the adventures of the Facebook group that's up there now and we're making notes of places they have camped and adventures they've taken. Their photos inspire and excite us - and now we have a new plan. We plan to go to Alaska next summer! Now we're part of another Facebook group and we are enjoying the camaraderie we're finding with this group that will make the long trek north when we go. Many from the group that is up there now have met each other - some even camping in the same campgrounds. Fireside chats and dinners out together and stories shared have intrigued us and we hope for the same experience next year. How will we find each other? Simple - we ordered and just received a big decal that will be placed on our cabin-on-wheels. It will identify us as members of this group. Some retailers and RV park hosts have even been giving discounts to member of the group up there this year. When our decal  arrived the other day we got excited all over again.
So, what are we doing since our plans changed? We are working hard to catch up with maintenance and projects around our home and yard. Things at home had to take a back seat over the past few years while we cared for my dear, little mother and her home and yard. Then we spent many, long, hard months of dealing with her belongings and repairs and maintenance to get her home ready to sell. Homes that were built back in the day often have issues that must be brought up to current building codes and that takes time. Now we are free to focus on one home - ours - and it's overwhelming at times. We will be making upgrades inside and out. And there will be adventures in the mix, too. When we knew we couldn't go to Alaska this summer we promised ourselves that we wouldn't just work, work, work. We've spent some days away and we have more short trips planned.

There is so much more I want to share with you and I know I haven't finished sharing our Grand Trip from last year yet. That will happen again soon and I hope to stay in touch a bit more often than I have recently. Time flies when you're having fun. Or when you're enjoying grandkids or having new adventures. For now, we are at peace with the decisions we've made and we are looking forward to adventures and experiences in the future. And when next summer comes, we may just be the most prepared travelers on the highway north!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Making Our Cabin-On-Wheels Ours

A few weeks ago I gave you a sneak peek at our new cabin-on-wheels. (Click here if you want to see what I shared.) I promised to show you changes we made and how we've begun to decorate it and make it feel like home. Life keeps moving along and we've had a lot going on, including some trips away in our cabin-on-wheels. So, finally, I slowed my pace and took some photos to show you what we've done. I took photos a on a gorgeous day last week. It was sunny and bright - and difficult to get the best photos because of the extra light and glare. But, inspite of that, you can get an idea of how we live when we're on the road. There are more things to do but this is a start. As with any home I think there will always be something to change or rearrange or organize. When I asked my sweetheart what kind of decor he would like in our new trailer he said, 'hunting cabin'. I suggested we do a more vintage cabin feel and not so much hunting. He liked that idea so you will see how we've added the cabin feel to make this our cabin-on-wheels.

Here's the way the kitchen looked straight from the dealer. I shared that we ordered it without the black, glass back-splash. Soon we will add our own back-splash - and it will be worth waiting for!
This is my kitchen with a few things added.
We eat a lot of fresh fruit so we always love to have a bowl of fruit on the counter. I found this colander at the Goodwill and knew it would be perfect. It holds our fruit but it also adds a pop of color to my kitchen area.
We bought this spice rack at World Market and my sweetheart attached it firmly to the side of the kitchen cabinet. It's so secure that it travels just like this without a problem. I need to add more spices and one of these days I will get matching bottles with cute labels. I decided not to use glass spice bottles because of the weight so I have my eye on some cute plastic containers that I can dress up with my own labels.
It's always nice to have an assortment of handy kitchen tools available. I needed something fairly lightweight to hold my kitchen utensils. When I found this cute grater planter at Hobby Lobby I knew it was just right. I have plans to replace a few of these utensils with some that have more color. I always love to brighten a spot with color when I can.
I had a plain stainless steel teakettle on the stove in our cabin-on-wheels. It was practical but it wasn't anything exciting. One day my sweetheart and I were walking through Walmart when he spied this Pioneer Woman teakettle and decided it was just what I (and my little kitchen) needed. I love it!  Do you see the daffodils on it?
This sign above the microwave is another Hobby Lobby find.
And I found this cute magnet at The Dollar Tree as I walked through the store one day. It's a cute addition to my range hood. The directions say: 'Mix well and serve with love'. Tips: 'One cup full of hugs. One teaspoon of kisses'.
I always wanted a small lamp on the dining table and I found this on sale at a local store. I knew it would be perfect and it adds a bit more light. It's perfect for soft light in the evening. The cabin piece was a gift to my sweetheart from our daughter.
This is the way the dinette and entertainment center looked in the basic model. Since we ordered our cabin-on-wheels we chose some options that we haven't regretted at all.
This was something special that we dreamed of having and it was an add-on option we chose. A fireplace! It's electric so we can heat our cabin-on-wheels without using propane when we're plugged into power. We can have the 'fire' on without heat for ambiance, or we can have the 'fire' on with heat to keep us toasty warm. I couldn't avoid reflections on this very sunny day but you can get the idea.
On our first trip with our new cabin-on-wheels my little dog, Joey, pulled his doggie bed over in front of the 'fire' and decided that space belonged to him!
The fireplace has a little 'mantel' so my sweetheart and I decided to decorate it a bit. I added two little battery-operated candle lanterns (a yard sale find!) and my sweetheart chose this sweet little sign on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby. I'm still thinking about ways to hide the cords. I'm sure I'll come up with something.
He also found a holder for the remotes (for the television, stereo system and fireplace).
There isn't a lot of wall space in the living area of our new cabin-on-wheels so I had to be a bit creative. I found these two burlap and metal pieces on the clearance table of a local store so I added them to the cabinet doors above the television.
This sofa was what came with the basic model of our cabin-on-wheels.
My sweetheart and I decided to add the 'recliner' option and we are sure glad we did. These chairs are pure comfort and we feel right at home when we enjoy time here.
On the wall beside the recliners (to the left in this photo) is a sign my sweetheart found at Hobby Lobby. We thought it would be perfect here. And it is. It's a good reminder to relax and enjoy our 'cabin'.
I showed you this control panel that is on the end of the upper cabinet just inside the main door. I wasn't thrilled to see it there with all the buttons and switches and monitors in plain sight. I had hoped it would be a place I could decorate with something welcoming. But it wasn't so I had to be flexible. In each of our other two trailers my sweetheart has wanted a hat rack - a place where he could hang his hats. That wasn't the best idea in my opinion but when he and I talked about how visible this control panel is he made a suggestion and I jumped on it right away. He added two Command brand hooks above everything and - viola- instant hat rack! He's happy and so am I. And it's easy to access the switches when we need them.
I showed you the little bathroom area with the ugly shower curtain that came with the trailer.
The shower curtain was one of the first things I changed. I bought it long before we brought our cabin-on-wheels home.
We changed the shower curtain rod, too. We bought an Extend-A-Rod that's made for RVs. The rod has two 'elbow' joints (where I added arrows) so it can flex. It goes in and out of the way when the shower isn't being used. It makes the little bathroom feel a tiny bit bigger and it lets more light into the room through the skylight. (We also added a tension shower rod across the top of the shower so we can hang things to dry. It's great for wet coats when we come in from the rain!)
When we're ready to take a shower we move it out and we instantly have more elbow room while in the shower. It's been wonderful!
This model didn't have any cabinet or storage area for bath towels in the little bathroom so I decided to get creative. I found the perfect wire and rustic wood box at an outlet store. My sweetheart screwed it securely into the wall and I rolled the bath towels and it works great. I'm looking for a flat metal sign of some kind to add below - something that we won't hit our heads or backs on when we use the potty!
As I shared in the sneak peek before, the bathroom sink is in the hallway across from the bathroom door. You can see it in the photo beside the old shower curtain in the photo above. There is a lot of space in the medicine cabinet but someone didn't space the shelves to allow tall bottles to stand. So we thought about it for awhile and decided to add something to the side wall. This little rustic metal box from Hobby Lobby is perfect! It's handy and things travel in it without falling out. And I still have unused decorating space above it.
Our bedroom really reflects the vintage-y cabin look we wanted. Every new RV comes with a bedspread and most people I know quickly replace it with something else.  I spent a lot of time looking for what we wanted and I finally found it - in the children's department at Target! I was really surprised to find a queen-size quilt in the children's department. Notice the throw pillow that my sweetheart found on a clearance table at a local store. We had decided that we would only add one throw pillow on our bed because there's not much space to put them when we go to bed at night. I knew he really wanted this pillow and it adds to a bit of 'hunting' to our bedroom.
We have big nightstands on each side of the bed. That's something most RV's don't have and we were thrilled to have these. I found this cute little battery-operated lantern in the Christmas clearance aisle at Walmart. It has a timer and it makes a great little night light for evenings when we might go in and out of the bedroom. I wish there had been another one for the other nightstand.
I have a bit of decorating on the bedroom walls but there's more to come. We found this cute sign and it didn't take long to decide to hang it on my sweetheart's side of the bed.
My sweetheart found a vintage-style poster on canvas on a clearance aisle of a local store.
We both loved it immediately and knew it had to go on the biggest wall of the bedroom. It hangs at the foot of the bed and I plan to hang some of my own photos around it. 
There was one 'prime' decorating spot that I had plans for in the bedroom. When we did the walk-through on the day we got our new trailer I was surprised that this spot had been claimed for something I hadn't expected. But it is necessary. We added a solar panel to the roof of our cabin-on-wheels. It recharges the batteries that run the power we use when we're not plugged into land power.
So, I lost the decorating spot between the cabinet doors above our bed. The solar panel controller needs to go inside near panel that's on the roof above the bed. While I lost a decorating spot, it's OK. I'm getting used to it and I'll appreciate it when we are camping off-grid.
I enjoy having lights that add to the cozy feel in the evening. A girlfriend gave me some battery-operated lights that I added at the top of the slide-out dinette. We enjoy having them on when we spend an evening 'at home' when we're on the road.
And the fireplace and little candle lanterns on the mantel add just the right mood for those evenings in.
There are more projects and things to add to the decor planned but - like in any home - things take time. I'll share more when things begin to happen.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Church - Then and Now

A few months ago I shared my childhood home here and here. My childhood home was the parsonage we lived in when my father was a minister in Central Oregon. I promised to show you the church where he was the minister. My childhood home has been completely restored and is now a wonderful vacation rental home. The church next door has also been completely restored and is also a vacation rental that would be a great place for us to have a reunion with our children and eight grandchildren.

Here is a photo taken by my mother when we lived there. You can see a bit of the parsonage where we lived on the left side of the photo.
Here was the church in winter. My dad was shoveling snow.
 And here I am peeking out the front doors of the church.
The church and the parsonage are on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was built in 1923 - the same year my parents were born. The church was historically called 'The Alliance Tabernacle'. The church is reported to be the first wooden church structure built entirely by volunteers from the congregation west of the Mississippi River. The National Register says it was a modest example of a Craftsman style church with a combination of clapboard and shingle side, one-over-one double hung windows and a small entry vestibule centered on the main facade and the roof boasted a monitor style central window down the ridge of the building. I remember all of those details so well.

Here's what it looks like today after the restoration.
It's beautiful! And there's the yellow home where I lived. There was a lot of life lived in these two buildings.
Come inside with me. When you step inside through the double front doors you enter the old 'vestibule' where I spent time before and after services as we visited with friends. That circular staircase wasn't there back in the day. The doorway on the left went into the old church nursery. There was a door on the right that led to the stairway to upstairs.
As you walked through the vestibule you walked right into the sanctuary. Oh, the memories of hours and hours spent here. These are the original floors - the same floors I walked on way back then. The upstairs has been opened up but it was closed and there were classrooms up there.  There was no hallway where the stairs are on the back wall. That was a wall at the back of the platform. There was a door on the left that went into my father's study. Rows of rather rustic wooden pews were on both sides of a central aisle.
This photo must have been taken from where the old platform was. You can see that a nice kitchen has been added for anyone who rents The Church.
A nice seating area is across from the kitchen.
Through the doorway on the right was the 'Sunday School office'. That's where the attendance records were kept and where the offerings from Sunday School and church services were counted. There were supplies and all kinds of interesting things in there. It always intrigued me when I was a kid.
The ceiling in the center of the sanctuary was at the bottom of the black beams. The rooms upstairs were a fun place for a kid to go for class. Somehow it always felt like a magical place to me. The walls of each classroom were between the sets of windows and we had to walk through one room to get to the next. There was no hallway.
The master bedroom seems to be through the door to the right - where the old Sunday School office used to be.
There was no bathroom in the church back in those days but a nice master bathroom has been added.

It's a nice addition to this corner of the building.
There is another bedroom. . .
And another bathroom on the downstairs level.
They have created a nice loft area at each end. Here's one end. . .
And the other one. The loft areas can also provide sleeping areas if needed. I'd like to spend time up here just daydreaming.
Outside, the building has been beautifully restored and some outside areas have been added. When I lived here this side of the building was a dirt hillside with bushes along the side of the building. I spent a lot of time playing in the dirt here and pretending every sort of thing a kid can imagine. There was a basement that could only be accessed from a little stairwell at the front of the church. Now it can be entered from this side. I can't wait to have a tour some day so I can see what they've done with the basement.
An outside seating area has been added on the hillside. It looks like an inviting place to spend some time.
There is another outside area with a firepit in the back of the church. This area was all dirt when I lived here. There was a flat area right behind the building and then the dirt hillside went up toward the next street above the church and the parsonage.
I was so happy to see that the church was still there and I could hardly believe how beautiful it is now. I have more memories than there is time to share - times I treasure and some times that were hard. There was magic and fun and reality and friends and family and memories to last a lifetime! Oh how I wish my mom and dad could see it now. They would be thrilled and they would have incredible memories to share, too. Someday when I am in that part of Oregon I hope to take a tour of the church and my childhood home, the parsonage. I'm sure I can tell the owners tales they have not heard before and history that's not written down.