“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” -Leonardo da Vinci

When I was little, I did what my parents told me to do. Then I went to school and did what the teachers told me told do. I got a job and did what my boss told me to do. Today, I do what I want to do and I love it!

This miniature Rose was given to me by Susie, in April. It was beautiful but very quickly dropped all it’s leaves and looked dead. I put it in my bone yard with the rest of my pots.
A week later, I start to see new growth! So, I planted it in one of my gardens to see if it would come back.
Look at it today! Blooming in it’s new place!
Do you know Dragonflies eat mosquitos? This one is feasting on Aphids!
I found this mirror in storage. I like it, but it’s dark and heavy looking. I got inspiration from a pic I saw online and decided to paint and distress it.
First coat of paint. I used an off White chalk spray paint.
This ornamental mirror was also being stored and feels outdated with the Cherry colored stain.
Deciding on what color to paint over the Cherry stain. I went with the darker one.
First coat of Turquoise spray paint.
Being single, I generally eat Al Fresco. And when I do entertain, I like to offer a selection of tapas or finger foods so guests can make a meal of flavors they like. I try to stick with healthy menu items and have been able to redirect me attention to cooking more since I’m home more. I definitely eat better!
My niece Lauren, came over to do some cooking this week. We’re assembling some vegetarian salads for lunch and learning how to do some basics.
Another light evening meal.
Simple is better. I spent many years building my life. More money, more stuff, more stress. Once I achieved what I thought was “success”, I started to get rid of all the stuff I surrounded myself with. Now, I love knowing I don’t need stuff to be happy. In fact, the more stuff I get rid of, the lighter and freer I feel.

“I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one’s self on this earth is not a hardship but a pass time, if we live simply and wisely” 
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

The Simple Farmhouse Cabin that Exposed my Hidden Courage

Late Fall of 2000, I bought my first house in Gunnison, CO. Palisades rock formation in the far right background.
More of a farmhouse cabin, really. It had Yellow painted log siding, cinder block and brick exterior base walls, screened in porch, mud room, 3 bed 1 bath.
Dreary looking when I first got my hands on it. But it had some good potential and I was aching to fix it up!
The house sat on 2 lots, giving me some out buildings, stables and corral, a detached garage, a large garden area and tons of extra space.
Corral and stables beyond the yard.
The detached garage had a couple small windows, which I later enlarged and turned the garage into a studio. I rented out all the rooms in the house and moved myself into the studio.
Next door is a historic old school house.
The interior had Oak floors. My 2 cats Dutch (Tabby) and Camille (calico), were given to me by Susie as a house warming gift.
Pine tongue and groove paneling throughout, a wood burning fireplace.
Original built in cabinets. The ceiling was some kind of paneling without the standard aluminum grid.
Living area near the front door.
Largest bedroom
The kitchen and bathroom were outdated, so my then-boyfriend, Kurt helped me do a very basic remodel on a very limited budget.
Apparently, I had enough wine corks to do a back splash behind the original farmhouse sink.
I tiled the counter top, painted over the residual adhesive on the bottom half of the back splash, added some shelves, painted the original cabinets and added Black hardware to make this old kitchen feel brighter and cleaner.
Super rustic and super inexpensive to do!
I painted the foundation rustic Red, added a rooster weather vane, took down old metal fencing around the house, cut down weeds and took the screen off the porch to open it up.
1 year after moving in, I got a new puppy, Foxy Girl. My roommate got one of Foxy’s sister’s at the same time and named her Mariposa. This is THAT day and we are both so happy!
Spring time in Gunnison is potentially more exciting than in other places. When you live in an area that gets as cold as 30 below zero and snows crazy amounts that sticks around until June, a reprieve is so very welcome! The city turns on a water ditch that flow through the town, but until it’s turned on late May or June, we hand water.
Green begins to show up. This deck was already there and gets used through out the whole year.
Mature trees and gardens appear.
A simple sitting area against the house, protected from wind and out of view from the street.
Colorado summers are the best!
I set up some seating spots in the yard for entertaining friends when they stop by.
Beautiful old Aspen tree with flowers in the garden below.
With the city ditch turned on, Poppies bloom in a cluster. I also added some trees for privacy and shade. The rock to the right of the pic is a piece of petrified wood.
Foxy Girl enjoying the beautiful summer day on the grass
After taking the screen off the upper part of the porch, its seems breezy and welcoming. A perfect place to park your bicycle.
A Progressive Bicycle Party, ending at my house. All my girlfriends gathered to celebrate another summer in Colorado!

Summer time in Colorado, an Astonishing Miracle

It’s thrilling to see how much the foliage has filled in over the month of June.
The pots are beginning to explode with color and texture, making my walkway a garden path!
And of course, weeds are also coming in quickly! I think I have a couple volunteer sunflowers at the base of the windmill. I’ll keep you posted as they grow!
So cool to see my neighbors also taking the opportunity to upgrade their siding and landscape. The ripple effect is real! Both of these houses just had their siding upgraded!
Doesn’t that look great! And this is what I see when I look out my window now. I love it!
My buddy, Rocco.
First steps out of the house in the morning, sniffing things to see what happened overnight.
Then he settles into his favorite morning spot in the sun! We both look forward to the start of the day, sipping Chai and soaking up the beautiful morning!
It feels good to have my space organized and cleaned up enough to have some friends over.
Just out of storage, I’m using my dining table on my patio for the summer and love how it opens up the patio and gives me space to entertain.
Some of my girlfriends enjoying an Al Fresco happy hour on the patio. Beth suggested my place looks like a Napa Valley back yard! YOU KNOW I love that!
This month, I’ve been cleaning out my storage and looking for places to put all my stuff! As I bring more stuff over and try to find permanent homes for everything, I can’t help but wonder, If I haven’t used this stuff in almost a year, do I really need it?
As luck would have it, Susie just bought a house in Lake Havasu and is setting up her new house at the same time! So as much as I feel attached to my stuff, I’m grateful to contribute to their lake house and know I’ll get to enjoy and appreciate all these things there, instead of in Colorado.
What to keep, what to donate , what to share…
Walking into someone’s storage feels a little bit intrusive, but I’m happy to report this is the last of my storage and by the end of the month, I’ll have all my stuff in one place again. It’s been quite a project moving from 2300 sf to 893 sf. Overwhelming, but I feel great knocking this out and reducing my footprint even further.
I’ve had this mirror for several years and rediscovered it in storage. Although it’s heavy and dark, I have an idea to update it…
I like this lighter version better, so I’m going to paint and distress my heavy Black mirror and give it a fresher look.
This is my Water Fitness class of ladies! At the end of our workout, we volley a beach ball for 10 minutes. It’s fun and challenging, but mostly funny! These ladies are awesome. They’re supportive, positive and all doing their best to stay in shape.

Growing Old Gracefully, With a Little Imagination

In 2008, young and energetic, toward the beginning of my career.

Some days, it’s tough feeling like I’ve gone past my prime and can see the changes to my face and body. I have a new appreciation for young people, being so fresh and beautiful and full of energy and anticipation of life to come. And I’m learning how to also appreciate the experiences in my own life, which have made me wise, patient and accepting of other people and myself. Today, I’m sharing some of my thoughts and decisions as I wander down the road of aging, excited to see what happens in the last half of my life.

As a working girl my hair was curled, I wore a full face of professional makeup, business clothes and kept my overall look polished. I stayed professional, not wanting to look too trendy or flirty.
Hair styles.

I got up 2 hours before I was expected in my office and my routine was basically, shower at night and wet my hair in the morning, blow it dry and curl it. Over time, I got comfortable being casual on some days, letting my hair dry naturally into a curly bob. This felt like I was stepping out of the box!

After I left my job, I still tried to keep up what I thought was the most flattering hairstyle, blown out and curled. But my outfits started to be more comfortable and flowing instead of tailored and fitted. Over time, I began to wear my hair naturally curly in a low maintenance bob.
Within 1 year of leaving my career, I blew that all out of the water and got hair extensions, finding a whole new look I could play with. I love having long hair, instantly! And I can change it up often. Now that I wasn’t in a professional career, I felt I could have more fun with my style.
This pic looks like a romance novel cover, with me being the main character. Nice one!
Extensions are fun and somewhat versatile, changing my whole look. It’s fun and flirty, to be sure! Finally, I could just relax and play with my style instead of using it as a uniform.
Here, I am wearing my extensions in pig tail braids.
This curl is closer to my natural hair curl.

You may have heard that hair extensions are hard on your hair. It’s true! They are fun, but I caution anyone who wears them to do so judiciously. It’s a good idea to not use them constantly, but give your natural hair a break from them regularly. Then when you wear them you feel spectacular!

Skin tone and texture.

My skin @ 47 years old, started to show damage from sun and lifestyle. I did my research, asked some friends and decided on a CO2 laser treatment for my face with the promise to erase all those years of damage to my skin.

Just leaving the CO2 treatment, getting ready to drive home. This is nothing, wait until the next morning! For the first week, I have to sleep sitting up and propped against some pillows to reduce swelling. I don’t really sleep, mostly nap in between pillow adjustments all night long.
Holy Crap! Is my face falling off? Besides some oozing, (which is disgusting and looks like hamburger, on my face!) I also have some swelling, especially noticeable around my eyes and nose bridge. The dark damaged skin cells are starting to lift and it looks like a splotchy shadow across my face. Sun damage be gone!
I’ll be honest, the first time I had this done, I got queasy when I saw how I looked like the next morning. I’ll share with you that this procedure looks horrible, but is not really that uncomfortable. The worst part is during the laser process which simply feels hot. It takes about 45 minutes, but she does use a numbing cream for a hour before and you hold a hose shooting out cold air onto the spots she is treating. Within 5 minutes of being done, the heat dissipates and you can’t feel any pain. I feels like a sunburn. And the results!
3 days later, no makeup. This treatment addresses sun damage, firms and tightens the skin and create healthier skin by resetting your cells to produce more collagen. The cell renewal process takes about 3 weeks before you see the actual results when your new skin cells begin to surface. Once I got through the first treatment, I was convinced of the benefits!
Eyebrows are the frame of the face.

My mom always had beautiful natural dark, arched eyebrows. Mine needed assistance. I have a chicken pox scar in my left brow and sparse eyebrow hair growing naturally in either brow. So, I’ve penciled in my brows for years and decided to see if I could find a more permanent (natural) solution.
Here in 2013, drawn in eyebrows.

I found Microblading, a semi permanent tattooing procedure for cosmetic purposes. The first time I had the procedure, I believe the brow specialist used a heavy hand, making the procedure almost unbearably painful. Even after using the numbing cream for a hour, I felt her “strokes” cutting into my skin. And the sound of it is sorta scratchy. Hard to describe until you’ve had it done.
However, I really like having my brows dark and filled in to create a fuller look. So, I found a new technician to do the same procedure in a following year. She used a lighter touch and it was a much more comfortable procedure. This pic is the same day of the procedure. It takes a week or two for the tiny scratches in my skin to heal, peel and fade to a more natural shade.
I’ve slowly changed my style to reflect a more casual and natural look. Which is funny, because it’s not natural, but makes me feel like I look more natural by using less makeup everyday.
And Grey Hair.

It’s been coming in for many years and I’ve stayed with my dark Brown hair color, which I’ve done myself with a grocery store hair color. Recently the hair color product I’ve used for 20+ years has been discontinued. So, I’m thinking this is a sign to take the plunge and let my Grey grow out! I like the Grey, but I’m struggling with the fading residual, now Gold-ish hair color on the bottom half of my hair with the Grey and natural dark Brown growing from the roots. This is 3 toned color blocked hair! Not ombre’, not natural or pretty, in my opinion.

Luckily, I’ve been working with my hairstylist (bless this woman!) to find a solution to the color blocked hair. She tried a few things and we ended up finding a subtle solution of using a permanent transparent ash color wash to take down the Gold and brighten the Grey.
And it worked! This is after the appointment with clean hair. The transition of color is gone! Thank you Andrea!

BTW, I’ve been polling my friends about letting Grey hair grow in. It’s been an interesting discussion with a common response of “I’m waiting until I retire to let my Grey hair grow in”. And I understand their anxiety. It’s interesting that women consistently feel that we need to keep coloring our hair while we’re professional, but can let it grow out naturally after we leave the work force. Do men have the same concerns? I’m not sure, but maybe I’ll poll some men to get their take on going Grey.

With wet hair, you can see the Grey is more striking, giving my hair a focal point. As the Grey grows in more, I’m crossing my fingers to have a cool Grey streak in the front, giving my hairstyle a fun and edgy vibe for a middle aged woman who has always thought of herself as somewhat stylish! We’ll see how this goes!
And my body!

I discovered at 14 years old, that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve tried to stay physical and active for most of my life. At 52, I feel more aches and pains, have less flexibility, don’t feel as strong, feel more jiggly, blah, blah, blah. I think many of you know how I feel.

I got a flash of inspiration in March and started to attend Water Fitness at my local Rec Center. I did not expect to love it as much as I do. I had silly notions that I wasn’t comfortable in a swimming suit in public, I didn’t want to get my hair wet, I’m not an old lady, etc…

But I went, and after 4 months, I love going to class 3 times per week and seeing my new friends in the pool.

We use a variety of pool equipment, but just being in the pool feels so amazing! I feel like a kid when I slide down into the cool water and the buoyancy picks up my tired and sore body so I can actually get a good workout against the resistance of the water.

If we’re lucky, we get the opportunity to have these thoughts and concerns as we age. It’s a vulnerable feeling sharing these inside views of my personal beauty choices with you all! Some people will see this post and decide all this stuff is not necessary or expensive or just vain. Others will see it as no big deal and may have done even more extreme things to themselves as they age or just because it makes them feel good. But I support people doing anything that does no harm and makes them feel confident and beautiful. The most important thing I try to remember is to make decisions that are healthy for me and to stay focused on balancing my physical, mental and emotional health. I hope these insights are entertaining at least, or helpful- even better, as you find yourself thinking about how to age gracefully! We are all beautiful just as we are, but a little lipstick never hurt anyone!

My Dad, a lifetime gift of fascinating and informative delights

This is my dad, Perry.
He has a great sense of humor as you can see by my aunt Katie’s reaction to his new hairdo!
And a great smile!
What a sweet little boy, living in California with his mom.
Visiting with his aunt and his dog in High School.
Dad’s happy place!
He’s taken us on a life long adventure, showing us the way of nature and science.
And showing calm and strength, as needed.
He prefers to be outside, when possible.
Taking a break from chores in San Diego.
Wow! They are so young and stylish.
He showers us with love and attention.
So handsome! Dad grew up in California.
Besides being outside, playing the guitar maybe his favorite pastime. He has played as long as I can remember and shares his songs with anyone who is interested. Here, he is playing for some elderly residents at a nursing home.
Showing Preston how to handle his instrument.
Dad was a pack guide for several years in Yosemite. Easy to see why mom fell in love with him.
With his young family, mom and step dad in Lee’s Ferry, AZ around 1970.
Displaying his catch of the day from his deck in Island Park, ID.
Sharing his guitar skills in Gunnison.
So proud with Michael and newborn, Lauren.
Camo Dad!
Susie and Mark’s wedding reception in Gunnison.
High School Senior pic.
With Preston @ Dos Rios Golf club, in Gunnison.
Dad with “El Cap” in the background.
What a fun day of skiing near Crested Butte with Susie and Mom!
With his 1st born in 1967, Yellowstone National Park.
After spending most of a day working on the sail shades, a hail storm came through and pounded the courtyard, filling the sails up. Dad is modeling a big chunk!
Dad playing Norwegian Wood on guitar with photo gallery.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you so much!

Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, powerful images from 79 AD

On August 24, 79 A.D., the Roman city of Pompeii was buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and stayed buried for more than 1600 years. The eruption spewed searing hot ash upon the city, preserving its people and treasures in a volcanic time capsule. Artifacts include beautiful frescos, marble and bronze sculptures, jewelry, body armor, plumbing fixtures, furniture, ancient Roman coins, and full body casts of the volcano’s victims shown in eerie detail. In 2012, Nikki and I went to see the exhibit while showing in Denver.

Mount Vesuvius in the back ground with the streets of Pompeii in the foreground.
Large frescos were found and saved as excavation unveiled these amazing works of art.
Metal side table with exquisite detail. This society wasn’t poor. They had very nice things and a shocking display of modern luxury items.
Dionysus (Bacchus) – Greek God of Wine and Grape Harvest.
This Greek God has the love of all the people.
A Bacchus wine fountain. I need one of these!
Battle helmet.
Gladiator Shin Guards.
I was amazed by the sophisticated plumbing that was shown. This was 79 AD, 2000 years ago!
Another view of plumbing fixtures. This blows my mind.
And the jewelry! I would wear any of these pieces.
Amazing!
Another wall fresco.
” Fresco is a technique of mural painting executed upon freshly laid, or wet lime plaster.  Water is used as the vehicle for the dry-powder pigment to merge with the plaster, and with the setting of the plaster, the painting becomes an integral part of the wall.” (Wikipedia)
These body casts of Pompeian residents show their last moments as the volcano buried the city.
150 bodies were found in a warehouse on the beach in Herculaneum, a nearby city to Pompeii. Both cities were buried by Vesuvius, but fewer bodies were found in Herculaneum. It seems these people were trying to find a safe place to go.
More body casts found in the buried city.
Speculation is that this dog was tied up and climbing to stay on top of the ash as it piled up around him. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about this exhibit, but it shows the reality of life and tragic death in the city of Pompeii.

On finding the courage to love, wherever I look…

There are so many ways to love.

Let me nurture love in my heart to the point that I must share it with everyone I connect with. Let me remember that every one of us faces challenges, difficulties, heartbreak, poor decisions, health problems and pain even when we desperately try to hide it. Let me remember that God puts people in our life for a purpose. And help me to find his love in the face of these obstacles, helping one another navigate tough times when we’re at our worst and feel alone. Especially when they don’t look like me or come from the same background. Only then have we heard God’s word and can truly be healthy, happy and thrive! And that’s God’s Love!

I love you so much, I’ll give you the hair you always wanted.
New parents lovingly reveal their pride and joy.
More love in 1975.
Mike and Nikki, full of love!
Sisters Suzanne, Katie and Rosemary loving the experience together in Montana.
We love our family and extend the same to the people around us!
The whole family celebrating Barbara Breaux’s life in Logan Utah. Love multiplied!
The family full of love, David, Kathleen and Suzanne.
George and Katie Whittle’s wedding day. So young and in love!
Aunt Suzanne lovin’ on her young family.
The Breaux’s before Richard, John and Katie.
The Thompson’s outside the Breaux house in El Cajon, CA. We loved going to see Grandma and Grandpa!
The Thompson’s at Ryan’s High School Graduation party, 2009. She’s so proud and grateful for all the love along the way!
Mark and Susie and friend, hiking in Utah with love and trust.
Rosemary and Perry in love, Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
Harry Loves Wendy! And it makes Wendy smile with happiness!
Richard and Ana’s beautiful wedding pic! These guys love life!
Susie and Michelle loving the church of San Francisco de Asis, in Taos.
Michael, Nicole, Kayla and Lauren. Faces of love, right here!
Susie and Mark while pregnant with Ryan in San Diego, CA. Love!
The Thompson kids showing their love, around 1974.
Preston Jude Pike. A miracle and proof of love in this world.
The Glasow’s showing their love in Logan Utah.
Loving cousins at The Pike’s house on Blue Mesa Reservoir in Gunnison.
One big team of love, in Gunnison, 2004.
The pure love of sisters Suzanne, Katie and Rosemary.
The Glasow ladies! So loving together.
Perry with his beautiful and loving mother, Ona at Marble Canyon, AZ, 1970-1971.
Portrait of the young, sweet and loving Thompson family in Georgia, 1974-ish.
Glenwood Springs, Mom and Dad 50th wedding anniversary gathering. Now that’s love!
Perry, with the very loving Auntie Babe. We love this lady!
Wendy and Harry, young and in love!
Susie and Perry, loving their break from the slopes at Crested Butte, CO.
Ryan snuggling with her love, Yoyo Mojo Breaux Pike.
Preston getting some love from Susie and Mark on Blue Mesa.
Mom and Dad in western wear, smiling and feeling the love!
Beautiful ladies capturing their love for each other in full vibrant fall colors.
Grandma Barbara Breaux, surrounded by the strong love of her family.
Ryan and Preston, loving graduation in Gunnison.
Showering my buddy, Foxy with loving kisses.
Lauren and Kasey, loving sisters. “It’s ok, I got you!”

New beginnings and old souls converge in the greatest way…

So excited to finally have my baskets filled with flowers.
Wait, I thought I was safe to plant my flowers after Mother’s Day!
My sail shade is filled with heavy wet spring snow. And the cushions are heavy and wet too!
A few days later, Mom and Dad are helping out in the yard. Here they’re taking a break in the shade with their 90 lb Lab, Ty.
They helped me hang a 2nd sail shade over the work space in the yard, creating a shady space.
My niece Lauren, graduated from Chapparal High School in Parker this week. Although is was chilly, we were grateful to have a dry day for the ceremony.
The family huddled together and cheered for the new graduates.
Proud father Michael, is explaining things to me.
Susie looking onto the field and enjoying the ceremony.
Younger sister Kasey will be next in 2 more years.
Look at that smart girl! So happy to be done with high school!
Lauren opening gifts at her Graduation party with mom, Nicole.
Lauren received a Family Cookbook with special recipes from her family.
Beautiful young lady, ready to face the world after her awesome accomplishment.
Dad is generous enough to bring his guitar when he visits. This video was taken after dusk, but you can still hear his guitar and singing skills.

These pics reveal simple inspiration with surprising results

I wanted a super small rolling kitchen island and was having a hard time finding the size. I eventually stumbled upon this pine table with casters and a drawer that was perfect, except for the finish, for $15!
After painting, doing a faux antique finish and adding new hardware, it’s perfect!
These Japanese office chairs were in great condition, but ugly. I bought them for $60 and…
I refinished the oak frames, recovered the seat and backs with updated fabric and they turned out great!
While doing a kitchen remodel, I needed new cabinets and got sticker shock after shopping new cabinets. These Alder cabinets were at Habitat for Humanity. I picked up 16 cabinets for $800.
I had to store them under my patio while I was refinishing them.
And cover them in my back yard while I was working on the process.
But, this is a Black refinished cabinet door.
And the spectacular antique White refinished cabinet door.
Here you can see all 3 finishes together.
These are done and waiting to be installed.
Installed, they look like high end custom cabinets. I saved thousands of dollars by refinishing them myself.
From the other end of the kitchen. These cabinets turned out to be the focal point upstairs.
And here are the Black lower cabinets, across from the White.
I bought this house in 2007. This is the pic the realtor used for marketing.
Updated over 11 years, this pic shows the new landscaping from the street.
The front part of the yard slid into the city sidewalk.
After building a retaining wall at the sidewalk and leveling out the dirt, I added Russian Sage and some mulch to the area, cleaning it up and making it more welcoming.
Here you can see the upper level of the yard and the new gardens.
I took out dead grass and laid flagstone in the front yard, making a fun entry courtyard with a couple flanking gardens.
The back yard had sod, but there was no fence and the boarded up storage shed on the left of the pic was uncovered to reveal a nice covered patio.
After cleanup, grass removal, adding garden boxes and decorating the patios.
This is the kitchen were I live now. These are the cabinets and counter tops I inherited when I bought the house in 2005. It’s hard to see the bathroom cabinet above the kitchen sink. What?
I updated the kitchen in 2012. It still looks like this, but I’ve since upgraded the appliances to Stainless Steel.
The back porch was somewhat enclosed with painted plywood and screen on the top of the walls. You can see the original garage in the back.
Today, after remodeling the whole exterior, this space is a huge feature of the house.
This is what the back porch looked like from the cottage in the back.
Today, more open and cleaned up!
Bought in 2005, with 2 dead Juniper trees in the front.
Today, no dead Juniper trees.
The side yard, parallel to the driveway.
Now, a walkway adjacent to the driveway.
The back yard looking North, 2005.
Today, looking North.
The old concrete slab that once had a garage on it…
Has now become a fabulous sitting area outside my kitchen.
The walkway between the back patio and the garage…
Is now a wonderland of Cedar arbor, garden shed and shady places to sit.
The back yard when the garage was still standing. And red lava rock that took me years to finally get rid of completely.
Is now a work space behind the new garden shed.
This cottage is built of cinderblock and had little privacy from the alley.
I added a fence, flagstone courtyard and redid the exterior, making it private and serene.
The original front door and covered porch entry.
The updated front door and entry. So Nice!
The house from the alley before the renovation.
The house has been resided, new roof and landscaping, making this cottage charming and welcoming.
This small kitchen in one of the cottages had old mismatched cabinets and cheap counter tops.
New tile, cabinets and appliances make this space fresh and clean.
When I bought this house, there were no lower cabinets, only uppers. I found these lower White coordinating cabinets and had them in the house for several years…
Until I redid the kitchen and changed all the cabinets when I tiled.
The outside of this house was in good shape, but needed some TLC.
Exterior painting, landscaping and clean up make it is seem more special.
These 2 enormous Pine trees eventually died and I paid a tree company to remove them- $1600! Then, I had a huge open area to consider.
I had a cedar deck and arbor built to maximize the space, just outside the back door of the kitchen.
Original kitchen, with farmhouse kitchen sink and overhead stove shelf. I now wish I’d kept that sink to reuse in another project.
New tile, cabinets, flooring, appliances make a new fresh galley kitchen.
My projects are a result of wanting something and then finding ways to make them happen. This is my creative outlet and I’m grateful to be determined enough to go get it or figure out how to achieve it, in the end. You can too!

My Mom, the best mentor in the world!

My beautiful young mother, before marriage, kids and a life lived in the Wild West!
Reality sets in when she discovers this life requires the use of a snow blower, on a daily basis!
Enjoying the beach in Hawaii (I think) with Susie
Picking Mom up from DIA for a visit.
Is she modeling or playing golf? It’s hard to tell with Mom. She always looks great!
With her family in 1975 at Blue Mesa Reservoir, Soap Creek.
Catching a ride with Nikki at The Upper Canyon Ranch in Montana
Her spirit is more vibrant than vivid fall colors!
So happy to see Mom, arriving for a 2 week visit in fall 2018.
With her signature Silver Halo.
San Diego with Susie, around 1986. They look so much alike, both lovely ladies!
I’m fortunate to have a warm and kind Mom, showing me how to live with grace and gusto!
With Michael’s daughters, about 2006.
She knows her way around a campsite, the kitchen and her church.
Mother’s Day 2009, Hudson Gardens, Littleton, CO.
Skiing in the Wild West with Dad!
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You are the best and we love you so much!
Getting lots of love from her nieces in Utah!
Enjoying a rocking horse with Lauren.
With Susie after Preston’s birth at Children’s Hospital.
Always glamorous, but always humble. Joyful Journey Hot Springs in San Luis Valley.
I try to be like her, and Susie thinks it’s funny!
Sweet kisses from HRH, Lauren Paige!
So happy to be with Michael!
Catching sun on the deck @ Blue Mesa in Gunnison.
9 holes with Susie at Dos Rios Golf club, Gunnison.
The Thompson’s on Blue Mesa, Gunnison around 2004.
A new nurse, ready to save the world, one soul at a time!
I love you Mom! Thanks for being such a great example for us all and for all the years of unwavering love and support!

How To Persevere Until You Get What You Want.

Beginning in March, I’ve been looking for a new set of outdoor accent pillows and throws to brighten up the otherwise Brown patios. I didn’t find anything inspiring, so I bought fabric at Colorado Fabric and made my own. I love the fresh colors and fun print!
Looks great with the Navy cushions!
I replaced the old bamboo chairs I’ve had since my Gunnison days. I love the style of these chairs, but the Beige cushions are bland. I decided to also re-cover them with a Navy Blue fabric to tie in with the other outdoor sets. It’s tricky when you combine different groups together in a space. I try for some continuity and is this case it’s woven bamboo, Navy cushions and these accent pillows.
During the Bomb Cyclone this spring, I watched this fence wave back and forth with strong wind and realized I needed to replace some of the posts. The space looks so different when the fence is gone! That’s my neighbors back yard. We live in close quarters in the city!
Digging holes for new posts.
They dug these beauties out of the ground. The landscapers had a great idea to break up and reuse the old concrete in the fresh post hole, combined with new cement. Recycling and reinforcing it at the same time! I love that!
The concrete dried overnight and the fence was reassembled with new pickets. For now, I have Grey patina on half of the run and fresh cedar on the other half. In time, they will patina to be a better match. I get called out A LOT for reusing old wood, but I like an aged and rustic style and it makes sense to me!
The old broken panel we replaced with the new cedar pickets.
I can see how some foliage will really liven this space up! The one plant stands out and I plan to have 3 in this area. The pillows look great too!
The front of a house should be welcoming and balanced. By adding a couple perennial gardens, I hope to create some interest and privacy. I marked a border line with spray paint and the landscaper scraped away the grass and used the dirt from 3 garden boxes in the back yard for a burm style garden in the front yard.
I added a Forsythia shrub to the windmill and will add more flowers, bulbs and large rocks to make the burm interesting and full of color and texture.
View from the street.
I opted for Breeze all the way around the back yard. I thought of having a border garden, but I like how low maintenance and clean Breeze is. I’ll stick with having ornamental grasses growing through the Breeze, a few window boxes and outdoor art. I can, and likely will add more in time.
The Breeze is the same color I used last fall, but it does lighten with time, as the sun bleaches everything eventually! Everything that looks Pink is new.
This fire pit area turned out better than I imagined. It’s spacious, clean and inviting for an evening around the fire pit.
View from the fire pit toward the back patio.
I ended up with some extra landscaping materials and I left it out front, on the curb with a “FREE” sign attached. As of half hour ago, it is all gone! I LOVE recycling. I’m super glad to find someone who wants exactly what I’m throwing away!

How to gracefully appreciate the simplest things in life…

My family was in town last week. One afternoon, we went to the RiNo district for lunch and a Rockies Game. We sat up high and enjoyed people watching, beautiful weather and game day snacks.
A beautiful day at Coors Field with the new lights high above the stands.
Funnel cake! Never had it, but it looks pretty tasty!
New construction from Coors Field. The Denver skyline is full of cranes.
It looks like I’m photo bombing Susie! Heading into the field.
I don’t know if you’ve been into the RiNo District lately, but it’s been completely redeveloped and is now a hip and stylish area. We ate at Safta (meaning grandma) Restaurant, which offers fabulous Middle Eastern food. It’s located in the The Source Hotel and Market Hall lobby. I recommend this awesome restaurant with great food, views and service. The lobby of the hotel- Market Hall, has a fun retail area including a coffee shop, floral shop and local art.
One of the unique shops at Market Hall.
Susie pondering weather to visit another shop or grab a Chai Latte at the coffee bar. Latte won!
We also stopped by the Old Santa Fe Pottery shop to see what they are showing for spring! It’s so fun here! I would LOVE to convert this place into a house with a cool courtyard!

Ok, “retired” is a debatable word. It’s come up over the last 3 years that I’m not actually “retired”. And that’s fair! I manage my rentals which is a responsibility, and sometimes they require extra time and energy to maintain, repair or upgrade any of the houses. I’m fortunate that I’ve had great tenants for the most part, and good luck with no devastating property issues! Thankfully! And I do love to remodel, which takes time and money, of course. But it’s also a great creative outlet for me. And it improves my investment at the same time. So, I’m not retired in the sense of not having any responsibilities, I’m retired from working for someone else and having a schedule. Self employed, I guess. Otherwise, I’m busy doing all the things I love to do. And getting paid for it. Win, Win!

I make it all seem like a dream, but the reality is that everything doesn’t always go perfectly smooth. I’m grateful to have help with maintenance issues that pop up at the rentals, like the kitchen plumbing at one of the houses. Juan is nor only positive and determined, he doesn’t complain about having to work under the sink for a few hours. Ugh!
I was hoping to get the repair done without having to dig into the wall downstairs, but we ended up having to make a small hole in the drywall to get to the problem. Good thing we did, the insulation and drywall were wet. Now that the clog is fixed, I’ll let the inside of the wall dry before repairing the hole we made.
This part, I can do! I have MAD weed eating skills!
Meanwhile, Juan is finishing up the plumbing repair.
Susie and I went by this specialty shop on Santa Fe to see what they offer for small spaces.
Murphy Bed’s have come along way!
These are cool, but not cheap! The most expensive one was $15K! They are custom made and can be configured in several ways to fit the space. I’m learning about them here.
Downtown Englewood!
Englewood has been experiencing a redevelopment over the last several years. I love the new energy, next generation of neighbors and new businesses. See the cow at the far end?
At the end of a great week we had a great dinner at the new One Barrel Restaurant in Englewood. Preston can’t contain his excitement!
And, I learn grace from Rocco. Here, he’s found a perfect place to grab some morning sun. He does only what makes him happy, feels or tastes good, loves having the family around with all their shenanigans, and he simply wants to be near the humans he loves. I try to be like him.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined. -H.D. Thoreau

Taking a break and sitting in the sun on the back patio! This is Nice!
Rocco has his own sofa, of course.
So exciting! I got a delivery on Saturday morning. My new outdoor furniture!
Although I know I’m putting this thing together, I look a bit tentative in this pic.
Rocco is also checking things out, very closely.
OK! I can do this!
Here’s my station, under the umbrella, on my new patio!
It only took 4.5 hours, but I got it done and think it’s perfect! There are sure to be more moves, but the pieces are modular so I can move them around, how they best fit for different uses.
Plus, I love looking at this from the kitchen!
Yesterday, while assembling the group, I learned how valuable the umbrella is in this space. I almost feel like a Cedar arbor overheard would be nice. But for now, I’ll try it this way.
This is the view from the new sitting area. Not to bad!
This space is also more private and protected with the shed, fence and house surrounding it. It feels intimate and It’s the first space you see when you walk into the back yard.
The shed provides shade in the afternoon, but the umbrella keeps the space usable all day.
This is the accent pillow fabric I bought for all the outdoor furniture. It adds some fun color to an otherwise pretty neutral palette. The pattern is sophisticated, bright and casual.
In order to move this behemoth, I had to take most of the dirt out and roll it. It’s big and heavy empty! It’ll go in the back yard once the landscapers finish the Breeze.
I used up all the materials that were being stored in the middle of the yard. Now you can see straight through to the back of the yard when you walk into the back. This is your view.
My landscaper will be back for the last visit (I hope) to finish up the irrigation and some details. The border around the back patio and around the whole back yard will be gone, with a few steppers along the patio and walkways. I’ll lose 2 of these 4×8 Cedar planters, leaving me more space to move around. I so appreciate a clean, low maintenance yard!
There are 2 shrubs that I planted several years ago, growing along the back patio. They’ve been abused over the years and especially during this project but are showing signs they will be back.
I love the deep Burgundy leaves they produce. I’ve trimmed them back and look forward to seeing how they evolve this year.
This project has been healing and energizing for me. This being the first house I bought when I moved to Denver, I can’t help but think about my life then, now, and all the years in between. I’m grateful everyday, that I can wake up, hear the birds chirp and smell the earth begin to wake up and grow again. This is my therapy and I’m so glad to be able to share it with you!
Happy Easter!

2018 NYC… How To Make Being A Tourist Look Easy

Heading toward the East Coast for a couple days before our visit to Ireland.
We stayed at the tip of Manhattan this time, in the financial district. Where the Green dot is.

On the way to Ireland, we stayed in NYC for 2 nights to take in some of the sights. The map shows where our hotel was, at the tip of Manhattan. In the 2 days we were there, we walked around and were able to see a lot of Battery Park, Liberty Island, Ellis Island, ground zero at World Trade Center and found some fun places to stop for lunch, dinner and cool refreshments.

We stayed at The Doubletree Hilton at the Financial District on Stone Street. This is the view from our room. The room was clean, with nice linens, but SUPER small. I guess that’s how it works in NYC. We loved the location and were able to walk around easily from the room. Starbucks was half a block away, gratefully! We had a partial view of Ellis Island, on the left side of the pic, across the harbor. Battery Park is on this side of the harbor, below.
NYC, Financial District. New York does a good job of creating parks in the middle of the city.
The bull on Wall Street is bigger than it looks!
Defiant girl, in training!
We walked down the embankment to The World Trade Center grounds. This place is such an emotional space. Years later, people from all over the world are here trying to understand how something like this could happen and pray for peace in our world.
I can’t explain how it feels to be in this place. Somber, heavy and reflective.
The Twin Tower foot prints, now eternity pools, are so vast. This pic shows how small the people across the pool are.
The survivor tree at Ground Zero was saved after severe damage and has been a beacon of hope for so many after 9/11.
1 World Trade Center.
American Merchant Marines Memorial on the harbor.
North Cove and Manhattan Sailing School on this gorgeous day! These yachts are over 150′ long. This marina sits along the harbor and has great restaurants, shops and walking paths with people enjoying the beautiful sunny day in August.
North Cove is on the Hudson, 3 blocks from The World Trade Center Museum. We discovered a great deli and enjoyed our sandwiches on a bench watching crew members work on these amazing yachts.
The Staten Island Ferry is free and takes people across the harbor to New Jersey on a regular schedule. We decided to take a spin across and back toward the end of our first day.
The ferry’s are actually pretty cool. It’s a main form of transportation across the Hudson. Here are local commuters on the ferry.
After walking around all day, I was looking for a good place to sit and sip. “How about this place?” I’m pointing out the Dubliner to Sean, who is desperately looking for a Guiness.

This cute little alley was blocked off to traffic and set up for people to hang out in between a bunch of little neighborhood restaurants. We loved finding it only a block from our hotel.

Awww! I look happy to be off my feet and scoping the NY scene.
The 2nd day, we decided to try out luck at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tours. I’m not big on huge lines of people, but I had to suck it up and stand in line with the rest of them to see the sights!
Looking back at Manhattan across the harbor.
The Coast Guard is always on alert. The gunner is standing on the bow, strapped into a harness with his hand on the machine gun! Adventurous job!
The path walking around Lady Liberty on Liberty Island.
This shot, from Liberty Island shows Manhattan and 1 World Trade Center in the background, Ellis Island on the left of the background and all the tourists walking around Liberty Island.
Liberty Island is worth standing in line and navigating through hundreds of people. The statue from France represents Liberty Enlightening the World. Such a positive image from our history.
1 World Trade Center with sailboats in the harbor.
Ellis Island from the ferry.
Ellis Island Hall, where thousands of immigrants landed, looking for a better life.
Irish immigrant family in a pic at Ellis Island. A hard life makes it understandable to want to immigrate.
“Goodbye, I’ll see you later!”
The long story of Immigration can not be accurately demonstrated in these few pics. However, when visiting Ellis Island, it’s heartbreaking and inspiring to read about all the people who have found their way to the US, using whatever means they had, to try for a better life.
Ellis Island.
On the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
I do love to visit New York. I’ve now been a couple times and look forward to a return visit. It’s a great way to break up a trip to Europe and now, we’re off to Ireland.

Spring is welcome to visit me anyday!

Susie was in town last week to help me get my yard cleaned up for spring! It’s a tradition we look forward to, celebrating all the tiny miracles that happen, this time of year. We took my brother, Michael to lunch for his birthday.
I got my outdoor curtains up and the patio furniture rearranged. Luckily, I have plenty of rugs to use on the concrete pad. I’m thinking abut tiling the whole patio to clean it up and add some fun style to the space.
The curtains add a lot of charm and privacy to the space. I can open or close them to create more intimate sitting areas.
Here, I’m using a curtain to create a backdrop for the floating chair. And we finally moved all the garden tools from the outside of the shed. Now I can use this door to access the shed.
Susie dug all the volunteer grass out of the planter and we raked up old tree branches and leaves on the Breeze, leaving the yard cleaner, but aching for some foliage.
This vintage paned glass door was recycled from the cottage on the back of the lot. I love it as a decorative focal point and practical door to the shed. All the windows were also recycled from another house which I had the original windows replaced.
This tree and shrub were salvaged during the remodel. The shrub isn’t looking so good, but I hope they both survive the project. Shade and foliage is what this house is missing right now.
This is what you see when you come in the side gate, which has become my actual entry to the house. At this point, every pic I post has a lingering project that I need to address. In this pic, it’s the Blue tarp covering mulch, potting soil and bulbs from last fall. I just need to do it!
The side yard is clean with Breeze. Although this isn’t a part of the yard people see, I love how clean and low maintenance it is! These curtains give me and my neighbor privacy while I’m on the back patio, which is more and more often!
The pile of flagstone behind the door will be used in the front and back yards for steppers near the sliding patio door and as you walk off the patio slab of the back porch.
The garden boxes are overgrown with only a couple plants worth saving. Susie dug out clumps of grass and found a healthy Chive and a Strawberry plant! More proof that miracles happen everyday in the garden!
Susie and I moved this rustic garden bench to this area to accommodate all the pots that will come in handy in a month, or so.  This valuable space is now the gardening area.  A place to work and store my outdoor projects!  The 4×4 planter will be removed.
I‘m meeting with my landscaper to discuss removing a couple of these planters. I’ll have 2 large and 1 small planter to use.  That’ll give me more room for my fire pit, on this end, and the garden work space at the other end. Sprinklers will get turned on for the season at the end of April.
I’ve been shopping for outdoor patio furniture for this space. Now that I use it for my entrance everyday, I need to make it welcoming and comfortable. So far, I hung a window planter with metal shudders, added a couple chaise lounge chairs and I moved an outdoor bakers/garden rack near the shed door. The pots will get moved after I dig some of the dirt out of them to make them lighter. 2 part project! I still need more foliage and soft cushioned furniture!
More window planters on this side. I also have some metal art I’ll add to this side of the shed.
This cluttered corner will be a focal point of the yard. Motivation to do what I need to do! Nice extension cord leading to the heat tape on the shed roof!
I added a couple hanging baskets on the front arbor and have a couple smaller projects planned for the front yard. I’ll make the garden with the Aspen tree a bit bigger and taller- like a burm, with some perennial flowers. Also add a second burm style garden on the other piece of grass near the driveway with the windmill, shrub or tree and perennial flowers too!
My fabulous sister, Susie! Loving the early vegetation at O’Toole’s garden shop! I find my way here throughout the winter, when it’s cold and snowy outside and spring is only a distant memory. See how happy she is?
Spring is such an inspiring time for everyone! The anticipation of each pastey white face as we visit the garden shop to see what treasures are just in!
Even the yard cat in the video below is inspired, although cats don’t really show emotion, I can see she’s happy to have the fresh adventure!

Unusual bomb cyclone launches spring in the Rockies.

And all of a sudden, blowing snow, wind and panic set in!
The whole patio was covered in snow. Fearing complete isolation, I fashioned a long brush to clear the satellite dish so I felt less alone.
And as the snow melted, it caused an ice cornice to build up on the shed and the house.
The metal roof plus snow, makes for a waterfall over the gutters.
I had to add heat tape to melt the ice so it would simply drain into the gutters.
My vintage windmill was blown over in the storm, bending the blades.
A casualty of the Bomb Cyclone! I’ll try to bend the blades back in shape again.
But just look at what happens after we get all the needed moisture!
Hidden bulbs are finding their way through the weed barrier and Breeze material, searching for the spring sunshine! Although I wasn’t looking for these to pop up right here, I can’t find it in myself to pull them up!
I’ve added some Cobalt Blue planters near the front door and some of my pots already have established perennial Day Lillie’s coming in!
Yay! Spring is so very welcome after a long winter.
Small, I know! But I can’t help but be pleased to see some Green reappear after 6 months of drab winter!
This time of year, we’re ready to lose the sweaters and boots. But it takes a few days in the privacy of your yard to get enough sun to show any skin in public.
I moved the outdoor chairs to maximize the sunny part of each day in the back yard. Rocco is grateful to lay in the sun too!

This is what happens when we go to see the Queen and her kingdom!

Leaving Knock Ireland, heading toward Luton Airport near London.
We stayed at The Hilton Doubletree at the Docklands on Columbia Wharf in London. This building is an old mill and offers awesome views of The Thames from our room.
View from our room at night! The ferry on the right side of the pic travels back and forth all day from Canary Wharf to Columbia Wharf on the other side of the Thames where we caught the water ferry down the river and into the city.
Our room was basically a flat. Lots of space and a small balcony overlooking the river.
We slept with the door open all night so we could feel the breeze from the river and hear the tide coming and going. Loved it!
I loved the rustic feel of the old building! Sean is counting his pounds.
Our room is the top balcony. Below is an outdoor space with tables overlooking the river.
Parliment and Big Ben were under renovation while we were there.
It really IS Big!
I had to pay attention when crossing streets, as the traffic was coming from the opposite direction than I’m used to!
We rode the ferry to the Westminster stop and walked down St. James park to Buckingham Palace. It was lovely!
Buckingham palace is very grand, very busy and very impressive. It’s crazy to actually be in a spot I’ve seen in so many pictures. And no, we didn’t see any royals while we were there!
You can see the fountain driveway at the front of Buckingham Palace.
Guilded gates are everywhere. This place is huge. It’s quite a walk from point A to Point B.
Were practiving our “Royals” pose! Do we look royal?
The queen leaves Buckingham Palace and goes to Balmoral Scotland during the summer. While she’s away, tours of the palace allow viewing and walking through 19 state rooms! Unfortunately, no photos were allowed inside. But I will say that the decadence and grandeur is so breathtaking. It’s amazing to me that these rooms have been lived in and used since the 1700’s. This pic is taken outside the back of the palace where the queen holds Garden parties.
This is 10 Downing St., through the gates. Home of Prime Minister Teresa May, at least for now. See the armed guards at the gate?
This is just on the other side of the fence from Teresa May’s house.
Standing on the London Bridge with a good view of the London Eye!
They still have these phone booths everywhere!
View from the ferry as we’re leaving London Bridge headed back toward our hotel.
This sign is funny to me! Not just the part of not being a nuisance, but that they’ll report you to your church. Now that’s a deterrent!
This old inn, circa 1520. We walked by it on our way to the Tower of London!
I imagine midieval people walking around in the cobblestone street with a mug in hand, looking for a place to lay their head for the night.
We took an obligatory break at Starbucks before going into the Tower. Fun to watch people from all over the world walk around these tourist attractions.
We’re heading toward the entrance of the Tower of London. I’m walking by what was once a moat surrounding the Tower.
The outside of the Tower. Entrance on the right.
This is inside the Tower grounds, the London Bridge behind us. You can see the moat behind us between the stone wall and the sidewalk below.
This is where the Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters live, inside the Tower grounds.
There’s one getting into the back seat of his car.
This whole fortress dates back over a 1000 years to 1070 AD. It’s been damaged, rebuilt and updated many times since then by a variety of Kings and Queens.
The slits in the stone wall are actually windows. See the gargoyles looking down at us?
Panoramic view. The Building straight ahead is the White Tower, or the Tower of London.
Again, no photos inside, but The Crown Jewels are pretty spectacular and heavily guarded!
Henry VIII’s armour. Hmmm.
Living in a castle seems romantic, but this would not be so cozy. Now I imagine walking through these hallways with a candle in hand.
Cold and dark, but the stone work is not only cool to see, it’s also super durable to have lasted this many centuries.
This is looking out a window. They are so small to protect the habitants from a seige. I think I’d feel claustrophobic living here.
This is a toilet. Basically a wooden box with a hole in it. I don’t know what’s below the box.
The king’s room. A bed, fireplace, a table, a throne and a chapel.
I guess this is where he makes plans for invasions.
It seems simple, but considering the stone rooms that are everywhere else, it IS more cozy.
The Kings throne.
Huge fireplaces are in the rooms to heat the cold space.
The White Tower. This is the tower that held the troops, weapons, armour, horses and of course, a chapel.
The chapel in The White tower.
The likeness of Queen Elizabeth I.
The walls are several feet deep to protect the people from attack.
This is amazing to me!
Torture tools. It’s eerie in this room, knowing how many people were held, tortured and died here.
A great view of London Bridge, standing next to the White tower.
We walked over London Bridge to see what was on the far embankment.
The London Bridge is a destination by itself. It’s a feat of engineering.
Looking back at the Tower over the Thames.
The Belfast warship is now a museum. It sits across the Thames from the Tower. We thought about taking a tour, but decided to find a cafe and have a glass of wine instead.
This walkway takes you from the cafe to the Belfast.
The little cafe overlooks the Thames and embankment.
The embankment runs along the river for miles. Tons of restaurants, parks and pedestrians. The architecture in London is remarkable. Very modern mixed with very old buildings.
Tired and feeling goofy after our stay in London, now we’re heading back to Colorado.
London to Denver is a long flight. I’m grateful to have seen parts of London and look forward to a return trip at some point!

If your lucky enough to visit Ireland, locals know how to make you feel charmed!

Arriving at Shannon Airport, Ireland. Aug 27, 2018.
Westport, standing on a bridge overlooking the Mall river.
O’Hehirs Cafe on the Octogon. One of my favorite cafes in Westport overlooks The Octogon, a historic landmark in town. I could spend hours here, drinking tea
and watching people walk by .
Kylemore Abbey, Ireland
A short walk away is the Chapel at Kylemore Abbey. So gothic and ornate!
Many of the manor’s and castles have chapels on the property. Entering the chapel at Kylemore Abbey.
Inside the chapel at Kylemore Abbey, beautiful paned glass windows.
Tea at the Cafe at Kylemore Abbey. When in Ireland, drink tea!
You’d never know what bliss lies behind this wall…
The walled victorian garden at Kylemore abbey.
Looking back toward the entry gate on the top left. This place is so gorgeous and has been recently restored after many years of neglect.
Turf is a natural resource that the Irish burn for heat. It’s layers of mulch and organic material that has been sitting on the ground for millions of years and become very dense. Driving around Ireland you can see fields of turf where people have dug up small sections, let sit to dry and then sell as fuel. It’s a resource that people now understand needs to be protected. You can smell turf being burned as you drive around. It’s very strong smelling, kinda like tobacco.
We saw many rich and decadent houses, but this house inspired me because it is the head gardeners house at the garden at Kylemore Abbey. Very simple and overlooking the whole walled garden. And they were buring turf for heat inside.
It was a super soggy day. However, if your strategy is to wait until is clears up, you’ll be spending your time inside! The trick is to dress appropriately and go for it!
Keel Beach on Achill Island. One of my favorite places in Ireland, so far!
Old Head Beach, Westport Ireland. I never get tired of being by the ocean.
This trip we stayed closer to town. This is the house we rented. Walking distance from downtown Westport.
This special lady is Sean’s mother, Winnie. She is wonderfully positive kind, loving and enjoys a good laugh, or craic, as the Irish would say! She turned 86 this year and we went back to help her celebrate.
Some of Sean’s family came for tea at our rental house after Winnie’s birthday lunch. Everyone in town loves Winnie. She has lived her entire life in Westport and knows everyone she sees. I’m grateful to know her!

See This Stucco Cottage Gain Confidence As Blissful Retreat!

This small stucco cottage lacks interest and novelty.
I added flagstone to the dirt yard to clean it up and make it more usable.
An original coal shed is now in the center of the yard and not so pretty to look at.
The front door of the coal shed, positioned in the center of the yard.
Back door of the cottage looked out into an evergreen covered space.
These 2 pine trees, surrounded by piles of rocks, were old and eventually died.
The flat roof was the culprit to a water leak in the ceiling of the living room.
I also tore out the carpet in the house and replaced it with tile throughout.
This is the bathroom where a washer and dryer were located.
I added tile to the floor and shower, but the space is still boring!
Small kitchen with apartment sized appliances.
When I bought this house, there were no lower cabinets here, only uppers. I found some reclaimed cabinets to create a better kitchen workspace in 2007.
The back door was very old, but I like having a back door overlooking the garden.
At some point, this part of the house was added onto the original house. The slope of the ceiling is interesting and mostly affects the bathroom, and the laundry room. Window A/C units are used throughout. Nice extension cord!
After I had the huge evergreen trees removed, I needed to do something with this space in the yard.
So, I decided to have a deck with arbor built instead. It was alot of work to dig out roots and clear the space for a new deck. Huge pile of rocks in the distance will have to be moved out of here.
The little wood boxes are for footers which will hold up the arbor over the deck. And of course, the huge pile of rocks that I had to remove along the back fence.
Coming along.
This is now a usable space outside the kitchen door.
Providing some shade and a sitting area.
I added garden boxes with perennials around the borders of the flagstone courtyard.
And a sitting area in the courtyard.
This shed is cool, but needed some TLC to make it blend better with the rest of the yard.
And I made this cute little garden near the front door and under the kitchen window.
Now when you walk into the yard, you see this welcoming space.
A grill and sitting area make this space fun and private.
I also added an arbor inside the gate to the alley. It can be seen from the alley and designates the gate from the rest of the fence.
Colorado offers year round sun, allowing us to spend time outside even during the winter.
Lilac shrubs are in the distance and soften the yard with fragrant flowers in the spring.
The interior is brighter and fresh after updating the kitchen, tiled floors, paint and adding solid wood doors inside the house.
New cabinets and tile change the kitchen into a cheery space.
Still a small stove, but I had a guest actually cook Thanksgiving dinner in this kitchen!
Spa like bathroom with bamboo shelving units, tiled floor and shower. I moved the washer and dryer into the laundry closet.
Cute little vintage dining table near the front door, in the main living area.
A sectional sofa adds comfort and plenty of seating to this small cottage.
Bedroom with adjoining room.
The adjoining room is really small, but I have a twin daybed and TV in here for extra room and privacy. Rocco taking a quick nap on the sheepskin.
I installed central A/C and got rid of the window units. Fresh paint, new furniture and fun furnishings make this place an urban retreat. This refurbished cottage is now avaible to rent on VRBO, listing #793349.

Thoughtful renovation makes this private cottage charming!

I bought this place in 2007. The carriage house is made of cinderblock. At some point, a half fence was put in, I guess to hide the trash cans.
Oh, and there is some siding also. Old windows are a little bit sad in this pic.
There was one big yard for both houses. It felt like being in a fish bowl, anyone driving through the alley could, and did, look right at the backyard of the big house and into the yard of the carriage house. Nice to have a parking space off the alley for the carriage house.
It had good bones, but needed some style and updating.
Original coutertops complete with chrome legs holding the cabinets up and mirrored light switch covers! And don’t miss the vinyl parquet flooring.
The cabiets are solid wood and built in.
It seems like all the houses had a mircowave cubbie above the oven. It must be vintage!
The galley kitchen is big enough for a full sized refrigerator and stove/oven.
Small bathroom with formica “butcher block” vanity top.
A transition seam where the vinyl parquet meets the carpeting. It runs through the room, creating a strange dining area which straddles the seam.
This house has no venting and relys on window A/C and baseboard heat.
One of the first things I did when I bought this property was add a fence between both houses. The Orange paint shows where the new flagstone courtyard will be.
This poor little house had no privacy, but I’m getting ready to change that!