The Cottage continued...

Today I have exterior pictures at the cottage to show you. Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

The back door

The lake side with a glimpse of the new log home next door.

Our campfire ring and picnic spot.

View towards the boat house. The cottage is on a channel between two lakes so it's more like a river.

Back of the stone boathouse. 

Boathouse doors.

The dock.

Sitting on the dock or fishing was always a popular pastime. 

Enjoying the campfire.

Mom, Dad and Bo heading out for a boat ride in the classic runabout.

Tomorrow I'll have pictures of the inside. 


The Cottage

The cottage, as we've always called it, has been a place where four generations of my family have enjoyed summertime gatherings and memory making moments. My grandparents bought it back in the 1940's when the lakeside was dotted with rustic seasonal cottages, a cooler place to escape to in the heat of summer before air conditioning was commonplace.

My mother is now in her mid-80's and chances are the cottage will soon be sold out of the family. The idyllic nature of the lake has disappeared over the years. Modest summer cottages have given way to pricey year-round homes which have driven up property values and taxes. Instead of the big pines, oaks and maple trees that gave cooling shade there are suburban-type expanses of green lawn. In many cases those lawns continue right down to the lake edge, which causes run-off and erosion problems, not to mention the chemical contamination from over-fertilization. The lake itself turns a putrid green by mid-summer, full of algae as a direct result of the landscaping practices and agricultural run-off from further up the lake.

Crowded septic systems contribute their own host of problems. Our "system" consists of a hand-cranked pump outside the back door. Unfortunately the water is no longer safe to drink because of the issues I've mentioned, so we only use it for cleaning or dousing campfires. A precariously leaning three-seater outhouse, the very last in the neighborhood, suffices for other needs.

The bygone corner store and watering hole just up the road, a place where one could get s'more fixings or popsicles for the kids or a cold six-pack for the grown-ups, is now a much-expanded supper club, with an outdoor tiki bar where live bands perform on weekends. Instead of the lazy drone of an occasional motor boat passing by, we now endure loud amped music echoing up and down the lake. And don't even get me started on jet-skis!

I've continued to collect and photograph images of the lake which I hope to publish in a memory book for my family. Over the next few days as the holiday and other events take me away from my computer I will have created some posts ahead of time with images of special things I want to remember of the lake and cottage. I hope you enjoy them.

Although we would normally be celebrating the 4th with my family at the lake cottage, this year will be different. This year we will travel a few hours down the road to spend a day celebrating the life of my husband's nephew, Kyle.  He may have been seen by many as just a kid in a wheel chair, but with the help of loving family and friends he lived a full and happy life, longer than was expected. The memorial will be at one of Kyle's favorite spots, a beautiful scenic outlook at a nearby state park, where we will gather to share memories, fellowship and food in honor of the wonderful young man he had become. We'll miss you Kyle.

Blue Mound State Park - Wisconsin


Genetically Inherited

     This will be a bit of a long post but I hope you bear with me and read it. You might enjoy a laugh or two.
     I haven't always been a thrift shopper. Far from it in fact. I used to think it was kind of creepy because so many of the shops I knew were in areas of the city that were rather run down and seedy. They all had a funny smell and weren't very well organized.   

     My earliest exposure to buying secondhand was in the accompaniment of my dad. He was a small town businessman and also owned several rental properties. We lived an hour away from the Twin Cities and made frequent trips for business supplies, this or that home repair item for a rental, or to do our family shopping. Dad always loved a bargain and was careful with money. If we ran the water too long in the bathtub we could be sure he'd be pounding on the door telling us to shut it off! Three inches of water is more than enough to get clean. Leaving a light on in a room, even if you were just leaving it for a minute, was certain to bring a reprimand. He was given the high school nickname "Dutch" for a reason.

 I would often tag along on trips to the cities with my parents, Dad driving us around to various discount stores, salvage yards and thrift shops. We made stops at bakery outlets for day old bread bargains, produce outlets for well-ripened fruits and vegetables, and discounted grocery stores where he bought cereal, dried milk and canned goods by the case. (To this day I cannot eat corn flakes or canned plums!) We didn't usually eat in restaurants on those trips. My parents would pack salami sandwiches, a thermos of coffee, a quart jar of milk for us kids along with a purchased candy bar or sweet of some kind. When mealtime came we would have a car picnic! It wasn't that we couldn't afford to shop regular retail or eat in restaurants. We were firmly middle class with a decent house, two cars, a lake cottage and a boat. My father liked nice things as much as anyone. But, a penny saved was a penny earned and with a family of seven every bit helped I suppose.


Dream a Little Dream

A few more changes are happening around the house. First we moved the computer out of our master bedroom, which I told about here. It was a good move in more ways than one. For starters we finally have a bedroom that is not also an office. Second, the computer is now right next to the file cabinet and a few feet from a bookshelf. It feels like a real office set-up. There are also windows just to the left of the desk that overlook the backyard and gardens. A much nicer view than the street view we had before. Although this was just supposed to be a temporary deal I'm thinking I kind of like it. Now I'm mentally re-inventing the other room as my sewing room.

Parsons bed from Room and Board
Anyway, back to the weekend project. Friday we brought home our new bed. It's the Parsons bed from Room and Board. We gave a lot of thought to the purchase of this piece.

First of all, our new mattress (which should be delivered any day now I hope) doesn't require a box spring; we needed a platform bed of some kind. The problem with many platform beds is that they sit quite low, which isn't so great as your knees get older. The Parson's bed sits at a normal bed height. Bonus: There's plenty of room underneath for a couple baskets for additional storage space.


Cousin Eddie in the Neighborhood

via geektyrant.com

For years we had to put up with the house across the street that was a college student rental. Oh the tales I could tell.

Then community efforts succeeded in having the neighborhood rezoned to single family, meaning no more than three unrelated people could live in a house. The one across the street was grandfathered in until, if and when, it were sold. Finally the day came and a nice young couple moved in. The husband was a construction major at the local university. They invested two years of sweat equity into restoring the house top to bottom, inside and out. The eyesore became a cute bungalow once again. We were thrilled! The house went on the market right about the same time the housing bubble burst.


Guard Dog

There's a new kid on the block as of today. I hope he'll keep the critters away from the garden.


A Bit of Inspiration

Sometimes when life gets busy we forget to stop and smell the roses, as the saying goes. It may take a little reminder. This afternoon I stepped out the back door, heading down the steps, when a little something caught my eye. Can you see it? (Reminder to self: Edge the sidewalks.)

Right down there in the crack of the sidewalk?
(Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

Hello little petunia. 

This little flower decided to take root. Even as tiny as it is it seems to be saying "I'm somebody. Notice me!" I had a hanging plant near the steps last summer that had the same little blue flowers. Somehow one little seed managed to survive our long, frigid winter and have it's day in the sun. 


Goodwill - The Twilight Zone

My husband is on vacation this week, or as he likes to say "practicing for retirement". Since the weather is too wet to do anything outside we decided to go check out some area thrift stores. Although not one to enjoy shopping much he does tolerate a resale store now and then. We've gotten into a routine when we go into a shop. Hubs heads for the book section. He's usually on the look-out for large print books for his 91 year old mom and "arm chair" travel books for himself.



David Bowie's song keeps running through my head today. We're somewhat averse to change in this house for some reason. It's always easier to put something off for another day than do it now. Then when things start piling up it all gets so overwhelming. That's where we find ourselves this summer. We have some big projects looming and they're not the fun kind. I'm talking about a new roof, insulation upgrades, replacing windows and house painting. We haven't started any of those yet and it's already the summer solstice!

Since I can't do much about the big projects myself I decided I would tackle a little project that is long overdue. We live in a small 3-bedroom 1100 square foot house. When our three kids were all home there was barely enough room to turn around in. As a result when we bought our first family computer the only space available for it was in our master bedroom. For the record that computer had a cutting edge 486 processor running Windows 95. So yeah, it's been a few years.

At any rate, we've been empty nesters for four years now and there is still a computer in our bedroom. We're in the process of turning our daughter's old room into a new office/guest room. That project has been tabled for the time being until we get the new windows installed and some other repairs done. In the meantime the computer is going to be moved to the former boy's room, now my sewing room. I don't do much sewing anyway so it might as well be used for something. I can't wait to have that extra space in our room! And if I have anything to say about it that space will stay that way. Wonderfully, gloriously empty!

I have several other projects waiting in the wings that I want to get to this summer. By wings I mean the garage, where my husband would like to see some empty space also.

First up is this fantastic mid-century modern desk. I found it at St. Vincent dePaul while visiting our daughter one weekend. We didn't really need another desk but there was no way I was going to leave it behind and regret it later. Somehow we managed to squeeze it in to an already full car. I love, love, love the drawer detail on the left side! There are three drawers but it looks like a wood plantation shutter or something. The wide shallow drawer could easily be converted into a keyboard tray. It's in good shape structurally but the finish needs work. I haven't decided yet if I'll try to restore it or paint it. For just 35 beans not a bad find. Not sure yet if this will go in the new office or replace the desk in the sewing room.

Next is an old toddler's rocking chair. I haven't decided what I'm going to do with it once I finish making it over. Save it for future grandkids? Sell it? My brother had one almost exactly like it when he was little with a gray tweed vinyl covering. This will obviously be getting paint and some new upholstery. I'm envisioning a fun Orla Kiely print like some of those found here.

And finally, a pair of wrought iron x-benches that need new paint and new cushions. Button tufted maybe? They'll go side by side in front of a new sleep sofa in the office. Don't you just love that crazy zigzag 70's print velvet fabric? Unfortunately it's filthy and covering a piece of unpadded plywood. Plus it really, really bugs me that the zigzags aren't centered.

Click to enlarge

As you can see I have a bit of work cut out for me this summer. So the sooner I get started the better!


Beating My Chest

Okay, so I'm not actually beating my chest. But someone else beat my chest. Not intentionally perhaps, but they did a good job of it. They left it all bruised and scarred and rusty. Yeah, rusty. Oh, you didn't think it was my chest chest did you?  No, I'm talking about another of my thrift store finds. THIS chest...

Meet Chester. This guy is definitely male. He seems to have been a tool chest at one time. There is a spot inside the lid to hang a couple saws. Straw and sawdust remnants were in all the corners and he smelled like an old shed. I hope you know what an old shed smells like.

Chester is made of wood covered with tin. He's been painted with metallic paint, has lots of dings and dents and rust.

The nailhead trim is what really got me. And those rusty handles. There is so much patina on this chest. On the inside of the lid are some blue chalk markings, a name perhaps and some math calculation of some kind. I can't quite make out what it all says but it definitely gives Chester some character and mystery.  He probably belonged to some old Norwegian farmer who did woodworking on the side. There are a lot of old Norwegian farmers in Wisconsin.

Sorry for that last fuzzy photo. And the green carpet. I know. For now Chester is sitting on my front porch holding all my ahem, neatly organized magazines. I'm debating whether or not to add some caster wheels because he's one hefty guy and it would be nice to be able to easily move him when I need to.  I've even thought about using the trunk as a coffee table, once the old shed smell has dissipated a bit more.  He should fit in well with my eclectic furniture collection which I'll tell you about another time.

Oh yeah, and my husband wasn't exactly thrilled when I brought this new boyfriend home with me.  I actually have an ulterior motive in the matchmaking department for Chester. Stay tuned for that in a future post.

Note: Upon further examination I've deciphered the names Carl Carlson (Carolson?), Natti and Mendie chalked on the lid. Interesting. Anyone else out there have any mystery furniture to tell about?


Second Chances

Of all the blog posts I see around the web I think my favorites are the before and after furniture projects. It's so inspiring to see someone take a sad seen-better-days curbside or thrift store find and turn it into something beautiful and useful again. So today I'm going to share one of my own before and after projects.

Meet "Shelly" (Short for Shelf-So-Ugly). We met at a local thrift store awhile back. I may have walked right past her a few times. She was a real wallflower with her mousy brown garb, hanging out in a back corner behind the prettier girls. A $20 trick. I tried to imagine her before life had taken her down the gritty road of abuse. She still had a nice figure but the years had taken their toll...wobbly legs, a pockmarked complexion, creaky joints. After a quick glance I averted my eyes and went on my way. But for some reason I just couldn't get her out of my mind. Maybe it's because we're both middle-aged and I recognized that invisible feeling I sometimes have myself. Whatever the reason I felt drawn to her and so a few days later I went back and brought her home.

 I knew Shelly could never reveal her storied past so I created one for her. I imagined her in a Madison Avenue ad agency, Sterling Cooper perhaps, cocktail glasses and gin bottles on her shelves, a handsome Don Draper casually leaning against her. After a few years someone younger caught Don's eye and she wound up in the office of a back street private eye who smoked and drank too much. He carelessly left water rings and cigarette burns on her. He liked to prop his feet up and leave grimy smudges. Business was slow and the lousy pay forced him to eventually close up shop. Shelly was tossed out into the alley, left to the mercy of the elements and roaming dogs. That's where a poor grad student found her one day and took her home for awhile. He ripped off one of her shelves and left ink stains behind but she couldn't complain too much. She was warm and dry and felt needed for awhile. However, the day finally came when his thesis was finished and her grad student moved on without her. At least he had the decency not to leave her on the curb. He gave her a ride in his Volvo wagon and left her at the drop-off door of the thrift store. She never saw him again.

     With the magic of a good scrubbing, some wood filler, primer and paint I'd like to introduce the new and improved Shelly:

Doesn't she look gorgeous? Yes, she's still in a corner, but I can assure you she gets plenty of attention these days. Now if only Don Draper would stop by...


Party Decorations

This past weekend we celebrated my mother's 85th birthday with a big family picnic. I wanted it to look fun and colorful. I've been noticing the beautiful tissue paper poms around the web and decided it couldn't be any more difficult to make these than the kleenex flowers we used to make in grade school. I was right. It was so much fun! I made six poms, each in a different bright color. I had lots of nice comments about them and will be sure to use this idea again somewhere down the line. In the meantime I'm left with these six big poms taking up space so I've decided to list them on craigslist and hope someone else can make use of them. If you're in the western Wisconsin area have a look.

By the way, if you want to make these yourself you can find lots of tutorials online. This is a good one at Suburban Bliss. I found the selection of tissue paper colors was pretty limited in most of the stores near me. If you have the time, which I didn't, Office Depot has a great selection online and quick shipping.

Welcome to Red Telly

I've been contemplating a blog for quite some time and finally decided to jump in and get my feet wet. I've wanted a place to record my inspirations and passions, projects and finds. Primarily this will be about design and decor. Other things will sneak in here as life is all about surprises and change. Whatever is inspiring me at the moment will find it's way here to Red Telly. I hope you'll visit often.