ORC Week 4 – The Red Door

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Welcome to Week 4 of the One Room Challenge! Only two more weeks until the big reveal! I’m not going to lie, I’m definitely concerned about finishing in time. I was hoping to get a lot more done last weekend, but it just didn’t happen. BUT, I did cross a couple things off my list, so let’s focus on those.

The door that goes from the garage to the laundry got a fresh, bright coat of red paint (actually like 4 coats). I painted our front door red over four years ago and still love it, so I decided to stick with that color (Geranium by Behr). I still had leftover paint from the front door so this project didn’t cost me a dime!



We’ve also started to move everything out of the garage. We are going to epoxy the floors this weekend, so we need everything out before then. We’ve moved a lot out already, but obviously we still have a lot more to go.


As I just mentioned, our biggest project is happening this weekend – we’re redoing the garage floors! We’ve been doing a lot of research about applying epoxy and we’re getting nervous about the amount of work we have ahead of ourselves. I feel like some of the tutorials I’ve read previously didn’t make it sound like a very hard project, but they definitely downplayed the amount of prep work that’s required. I also feel like they don’t truly mention how expensive it is…I’ll do a full budget breakdown next week, but it’s definitely in the $300-$400 range. Obviously that’s a lot cheaper than hiring someone, but it’s still a decent chunk of change. OK, rant over. Anyway, wish us luck!

Completely unrelated, but not really because it explains where our extra time is going – we got another foster dog. Her name is Jelly (short for Angelica) and we’ll have her for a month. We’re fostering through the same rescue and same transport program as we did for Lilly and Macey. It’s still early, but so far she's getting along with Ringo and Abby and things are going well so we're cautiously optimistic. 



Don’t forget to check out the official One Room Challenge participants here and the guest participants here! I’m seriously getting so excited to see how the other rooms turn out!




ORC Week 3 – Fresh White Walls

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Can you believe it’s already the halfway point of the One Room Challenge?!?! The past few weeks have flown by and I’m definitely nervous about finishing in time. I need to kick it into overdrive for the next couple of weeks! Fortunately, we had a productive weekend and I actually have some noticeable progress to share today.

Our biggest accomplishment of the week was painting the garage walls. They didn’t seem that bad until we moved everything away from the walls and started painting them a brighter white. I picked Whisper White from the Home Decorators Collection by Behr and I’m really happy with the color. It looks so clean in there now!


The door and door trim are the original color and everything else is the fresh, new white.


You guys, painting a garage is no joke. It’s already getting hot in Phoenix and we don’t have any fans in there, so we were getting pretty sweaty by the end. Luckily it only needed one coat plus touchups!


In other news, I’ve started my paint project. I’m condensing all of the leftover paint cans into glass mason jars. It’ll save SO much space and keep the paint fresher. I’m writing the room on the top of each jar and I have a file on my phone and computer with the rest of the details (brand, paint name, sheen, formula). Although now I’m wondering if I should have written the paint name on the jars and listed the room in the file instead…


My goals for this week are to paint the door (and possibly add trim), plank the wall for the entry area, and change the beige switch and outlets to white ones. The pegboard was delivered yesterday, so hopefully we can get that hung too. I just need to buy the workbench and get it set up so I know where I need to hang the pegboard.

Don’t forget to check out the official participants (here) and the other guest participants (here)! There are so many fun room makeovers going on! I’m seriously so impressed by the progress that everyone is making on their spaces. Seriously, some people took on such huge projects and I’m seriously in awe of what they’ve accomplished in a just a few short weeks!



Exploring Petrified Forest National Park with Dogs

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A couple weeks ago Adam, Ringo, Abby and I took a weekend road trip to Northern Arizona. After work on Friday we drove up to Flagstaff. We enjoyed a beer at Dark Sky Brewing (dogs are allowed inside!) and stayed at an Airbnb for the night. The next day we headed east towards our main destination – Petrified Forest National Park. We picked Petrified Forest National Park because it’s one of the few national parks that allows dogs on all of the trails…and because we have an annual National Parks pass.


Oh wait! I have to mention another stop first! On our way from Flagstaff we stopped in Winslow, Arizona so we could get our picture standing on the corner (if you don’t get the reference, read this and listen to this). It was so windy there (and for the rest of our trip).



Anyway, it’s recommended that if you’re driving eastbound, take US 180 to the south entrance and drive north in the park. If you are headed west bound, exit on the I-40 and drive south in the park. You can pick up the highway/freeway on the other end so you don’t have to back track. We were coming from the west, so we started at the south entrance.



The Rainbow Forest Museum is the first stop in the park and the start of the Giant Logs and Long Logs trails. We walked the Giant Logs trail so that we could see Old Faithful – the largest log in the park (10 foot wide base). The trail is only a 0.4 mile loop and it’s paved, so it’s the perfect way to stretch your legs after the car ride.





From there we drove north to the Crystal Forest trail. The trail is a 0.75 mile loop through badlands landscape surrounded by colorful petrified logs. It was a really pretty walk and a great way to see some of the petrified wood up close.



The petrified wood comes from trees that were deposited over 200 million years ago. The petrified wood is now mostly quartz and is very hard – 7.8 on the hardness scale (diamonds are a 10). It’s also super heavy weighing in at 160-200 pounds per cubic foot.



Our next stop, and our favorite trail of the day, was Blue Mesa. At this point the landscape starts to change from Petrified Forest to Painted Desert. There’s still petrified logs on the trails, but the desert starts to become the focal point.



Blue Mesa is a 3.5 mile loop drive though some of the prettiest areas of the park (in my opinion). There’s also a 1 mile trail that you can take to explore further into the canyon. The trail in (and out) is steep, but the rest is fairly flat.



The colorful layers of the formations are so beautiful. The blue of the layer is made up of bentonite clay and the rest of the layers are silts, sandstone, mud, and gravel. The clay swells with moisture and shrinks as it dries creating the elephant skin appearance.




After making our way back up the trail and finishing the loop drive, we continued north to Kachina Point for one of the best views of the Painted Desert.



Our last stop was Tawa Point for one final view of the Painted Desert. You can take the Painted Desert Rim Trail between those two points, but it was getting late in the afternoon and Ringo was over it, so we just stopped for pictures at both spots instead.



From there we exited the park and hopped on the freeway to our hotel in nearby Holbrook. You guys, we didn’t stay in just any old hotel, we stayed in WIGWAMS!



There were seven Wigwam Villages built between the 1930s – 1950s and spanned from Florida to California. Only three of the villages are remaining today (Kentucky, Arizona, and California). The Wigwam Motel in Holbrook is located on Route 66 and is made up of 15 concrete wigwams. The wigwams are dated, but everything was clean. It’s definitely worth the experience of staying there one night. It’s also dog friendly too (although they charge a dog fee, I think it was $20).



There’s not much to do in that area, so I wouldn’t plan spending much time there. We got to the hotel around 4 and just hung out in the wigwam (except for a quick pizza run) for the night. The dogs were exhausted and we were fine with a relaxing night in. It was so funny watching Ringo try to stay awake! He couldn’t keep his eyes open and his head kept falling and startling him awake (I’m sure we’ve all done that in a class before). Abby was asleep and snoring the whole night.

The next morning we packed up and headed home. It was a fun weekend trip and so nice to get away for a couple days. We loved that could bring our dogs along on this trip…and the dogs loved all the new smells and getting to pee in so many new places.

A few tips for visiting this area:

  • Bring food to the Petrified Forest National Park – There’s a diner on the north end and snacks on the side side…and that’s it! 
  • Bring plenty of water – It’s a desert and there’s not a lot around. You don’t want to get stuck out there without any water.
  • Pick up after your dog – Bring poop bags and use them! Places will only stay dog friendly as long as people are responsible. Don’t ruin it for others!
  • Leave the Petrified Wood – You can buy pieces of petrified wood in the gift shops. Please leave the pieces on the trails and in the desert for everyone to enjoy.
  • Make reservations – If you want to stay in a wigwam, call to make reservations ahead of time. I’ve read that they book up a couple weeks in advance (although you might luck out). Also, you can’t make reservations online and the office is only open for a few hours in the late afternoon to make reservations over the phone.

Have you ever been to Petrified Forest National Park? What’s the last National Park you’ve visited? Our pass is good until the end of September so give me some ideas!



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ORC Week 2 – Cleaning the Garage

Thursday, April 13, 2017

It’s the second week of the One Room Challenge and I’m already starting to stress. We were out of town last weekend (and I didn’t start anything in advance) so the only time we’ve had to work on the garage has been after dinner the past few nights.


Our trash is picked up on Tuesdays, so we spent about an hour Monday night clearing out anything that needed to be trashed. We filled up the trash bin plus filled up my car with a load for Goodwill. We also moved all of the gardening items to the shed and moved all of the cement pavers to the backyard. That was my workout for the day! 


We spent more time cleaning on Tuesday night and finally started sorting through some of the boxes. My sinuses are seriously hating me right now. My allergies are already really bad this time of year, but going through all this dusty stuff is killing me. I can’t wait to be done with this!



It doesn’t look like we’ve made much progress and we aren’t as far along as I’d like to be at this point, but I’m happy that we’ve at least started. Cleaning out the garage after working all day is the last thing I want to do, but we are really pushing ourselves to make a little progress each day. We have dinner plans on Saturday, but nothing else other than that, so we’ll finally have time to make serious progress in the garage.


My goal is to finish cleaning out the garage, add trim/paint the door, and paint the walls by next week. I also want to get all of the old paint organized and condensed into new jars. That should free up a lot of space. 



In shopping news, I’ve decided on this wood bench from Home Depot and I’ve ordered this metal pegboard. The metal is more expensive than the typical pegboard, but it’s supposed to hold heavier items and last longer. It also comes with all of those accessories (plus free shipping), so I feel like it’s a good deal for what we need. We already down those shelves.




Other than that, I really don’t have anything else to share. This makeover is off to a slow start and it’s stressing me out. I’m just really thankful that Adam is completely on board for all of this. I definitely couldn’t do all of the projects I have planned by myself in six weeks. So yay for Adam! Anyway, if you’re looking for rooms with more progress than mine, check out the official participants here and the other guest participants here.




One Room Challenge – Garage Makeover

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The One Room Challenge is back! For those of you who are new to the challenge, the ORC was started six years ago by Linda at Calling It Home. Participants have six weeks to transform a space and share their progress every week. Yesterday 20 featured designers shared their rooms and makeover plans (you can see them here). Today all of the guest participants (including me) are joining in the challenge (see all of the rooms here).


I didn’t join the last round, but in the past I’ve worked on my laundry room, master bathroom, dining room, and master bedroom. The One Room Challenge is the best motivation and I’m convinced that none of those rooms would be as finished as they are if I hadn’t joined the challenge. 




I had a hard time deciding on a space this time. I’ve been talking about refreshing the guest bathroom for almost over a year now, but the garage really needs work. It’s going to get hot in Phoenix soon, so this really would be the best time to start if we want to get it done anytime soon without melting. But people are more likely to see the guest bathroom than garage, so is it really a priority? I went back and forth for days (driving Adam crazy in the process), but eventually decided to pick the garage. It won’t be as pretty as a bathroom makeover, but I think it’ll be fun to tackle something different.






As you can see, the garage is a mess. Nothing is organized and there’s stuff everywhere. When Adam moved in, a lot his stuff never made it in the house, but most of that crap is mine. So step one is going to be cleaning and purging. Once everything is cleaned out I want to add a big workbench, hang a pegboard, and get our tools organized.




On the other wall, it’s all about storage. We have 2 shelving units already, but will probably need another plus closed storage. I’m really hoping to get the garage put together with enough room for both of our cars. Right now only one of us can park in there.



By the door, I’d love to create an entry area. We use this door (it opens into the laundry room) more than the front door, so I really want to make better use of this area…and make it prettier.



Our biggest project in here is probably going to be refinishing the floors. One of my friends refinished his garage floors with one of those epoxy kits and it looks amazing, so that’s our plan for in here.




I haven’t decided if we’ll need to paint in here or not, but we definitely have to do something about the damaged drywall. Both of us have hit the wall at some point, but someone (I won’t name names) hit it pretty hard by accident a few months ago. So, we’ll either fix the drywall or do some sort of wall treatment to hide the damage.


With that, let’s talk to do list:
Clean Out Garage
Fix drywall
Paint Walls
Refinish Floor
Workbench Area
Add Pegboard
Add Storage
Organize
Create Entry Area


That’s a lot to finish in six weeks and hopefully we can beat the heat, but I’m excited to get this project going! Wish us luck! I’ll be back next week to share our progress.



Shopping Trip: Wal-Mart

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Can you believe it’s been 3 years since my last shopping trip post?!?! Honestly, I completely forgot about the series, but I’m bringing it back! As a reminder, these posts are not sponsored and do not have any affiliate links. I write these posts just to share some of my favorite finds and give you all an idea of my style. I wrote my first Shopping Trip post in August 2012. At that time most of my house was not decorated yet and I couldn’t afford to buy everything I wanted to finish all of the rooms. I thought that sharing items that I wanted to buy would be a fun way to share my design style without breaking the bank.

Today we’re going on a (virtual) shopping trip to Wal-Mart. OK, I know it doesn’t sound that cool and exciting, but they’ve really stepped up their home décor game in the last few years. The Better Homes and Gardens line is consistently good and the new Pioneer Woman products are so cute!
Grab your virtual shopping carts and let’s shop!

I want to start with the Pioneer Woman products that I mentioned above. If you haven’t seen any of Ree’s line before, I want to warn you now – it’s all so cute! All of those pieces pictured are $4.38-$4.88.


I love the patterns on the kitchen towels ($5.94/set of 2) - I have the set in the middle. There are also matching oven mitts, tablecloths/runners, seat cushions, and other misc kitchen items.


Wal-Mart surprisingly has a nice selection of coffee mugs. I love stripes and floral, so this Hello Lovely mug ($4.78) is right up my alley.


The display piece is dusty and a bit beaten up, but this kitchen island cart ($169) would be perfect in a small kitchen. The top is surprisingly real granite. This totally reminds me that I need to put an island in our kitchen...


Last month I showed you our new bedroom lamps from Wal-Mart, so obviously I'm a fan of those, but I also like these wood ones. The one on the right ($17.23) is my favorite.


This metal bike ($9.88) is a smaller version of the one that I have on my mantle. I bought mine at a garage sale, but I wondering if it was originally from Wal-Mart. They look identical.


These ceramic hurricanes are perfect for spring/summer decor. The large one is $14.87 and the smaller one is $9.88. I know I've seen similar, more expensive ones at other stores.


This shower curtain ($17.48) wouldn't work in either of my bathrooms, but I love the aztec print.


I wouldn't use all of these pieces together, but adding one of them would be a fun addition to a bathroom. Actually, the owl jar ($9.88) would work in other rooms too.


I have a few plants around the house that need to be repotted and I like the print on these pots (also available in blue).


And lastly, don't forget about the backyard! We added string lights around our back patio and pool fence last spring and we love it. We just bought globe lights and white Christmas lights, but these lantern string lights ($17.87) would be a fun addition.


So what did I buy (besides dog treats and toothpaste)? I found this plaid, winter blanket in the clearance aisle for $7 (previously $13, originally $17.42). It's too warm for it now, but I'll stash it in my linen closet until the fall.




Rocky Mountain National Park in One Day

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Last August, in order to escape the Phoenix heat, Adam and I planned a weekend getaway to Colorado. Our original plan was to visit and explore Denver, but after some discussion we realized that seeing Rocky Mountain National Park was on the top of both of our to-do lists, so we stayed in Boulder instead. We had so much fun exploring the shops and restaurants in the city, walking around Pearl Street, and visiting the local breweries. Boulder is about an hour from Rocky Mountain National Park (and less than an hour from the airport), so it’s a great place to stay if the park is part of your itinerary. 


We accidently planned our visit to Rocky Mountain NP during a free admission weekend. We were nervous about crowds, so we decided to get an early start. I’m so glad we did that. We ended up being ahead of all of the crowds during the day and we were the only car on the road in the morning when this handsome guy stopped on the side of the road.


As we entered the park there were two cars in front us, way up ahead. Right after they passed, that elk came up from the bushes below and stopped right along the road as we approached. We both said it was one of our favorite moments from the trip.

Adam and I decided to start our day at Bear Lake. All of the articles I read said that the parking lot fills up early so we decided to head straight there first. We are so glad we followed this advice and I would strongly recommend doing the same if you ever visit. Don’t get distracted by the other sights along the way! You can stop on the way back. Anyway, the lake is just a short walk from the parking lot so it’s perfect if you or people in your group are unwilling or unable to hike much.


Bear Lake is absolutely beautiful and it was such a great place to start our day. The water is so clear and was so calm – look at the reflection of Hallett Peak in the water! We only walked around part of the lake, but the full trail is less than a mile and is rated easy.


Bear Lake is also where the trailhead for the Emerald Lake hike begins. There are so many different hiking trails that you can take in Rocky Mountain National Park (this site will help you sort by distance and difficulty). We looked at a few different trails, but we ended up picking the Emerald Lake hike based on convenience (we were already there and had a parking spot) and distance/time (the 3.5 mile hike only takes a couple hours and give us plenty of time to visit the rest of the park).


We also picked that trail because there are two other lakes on the way to Emerald Lake. The first lake is Nymph Lake and it’s a steady half-mile climb from the Bear Lake Trailhead. It’s a popular trail so a lot of it is paved and it would be a great short hike if you don’t want to do the full hike. I loved the lily pads covering the lake.


The trail to Dream Lake is fairly steep in some places and you gain a bit of elevation, but the higher trail leads to some amazing views along the way. It’s a little over a half-mile to the junction for Lake Haiyaha. Keep right and the foot of Dream Lake is just ahead.


The view is simply stunning and because we got an early start, there were only a few other people around so it was such a peaceful moment. The water is clear enough to see fish in the lake.
 
 
From there it’s on to Emerald Lake. The trail continues around the shore of Dream Lake, deeper into the Gorge. Just past the lake, there’s a series of steps and quite the altitude gain…the high altitude here is no joke! It’s about 0.7 miles to Emerald Lake, for a total of 1.8 miles…and it’s worth every step!


We shuffled across the rocks to the right and found a flat spot to relax for a bit. Hallett Peak is directly in front and Flattop Mountain is to the right. You can see waterfalls in the distance and with binoculars, climbers on Hallett Peak!


After taking in the view and surroundings we hiked the 1.8 mile return trip back to the car. Our next stop was Sprague Lake for our PB&J picnic lunch. We started to walk around the lake, but after seeing the other 4 lakes, Sprague Lake didn’t seem as impressive so we headed on to our next stop (sorry Sprague Lake).


After circling back on Bear Lake Road, we turned left on the main entrance road (US 36) towards Deer Ridge Junction. We took Fall River Road at the junction and headed to the Alluvial Fan. The drive through the park is so pretty. We pulled off a couple of times to take some pictures and check out the overlook areas.


Anyway, we did the short hike to the Alluvial Fan from the first parking lot, but later realized that there was another parking lot that was closer…oops! The alluvial fan was created when Lawn Lake flooded the area in 1982. It was interesting to see and I’d recommend it as a quick stop.


From there we took the Old Fall River Road up to the high country. Old Fall River Road is an 11-mile one- way dirt road that is only open part of the year. There are multiple switchbacks, some are very tight, and no guardrails along the road. But don’t worry, it’s safe and the road is pretty well maintained. We took our little rental Mazda up it with no problems. It’s a fun way to get more of a wilderness experience while driving through the park.



Well, we almost had problems. The last mile or so of the drive, it started hailing. By the time we reached the top, it was really coming down and turned to heavy rain not long after. I would have been a little nervous if we were still on that road during that weather…but we made it. At the top of the road is the Alpine Visitor Center. At around 12,000 feet about sea level, it’s the highest elevation visitor center in the National Park Service.


It’s crazy to see the change in landscape as you change elevation. The pine forest landscape is now alpine tundra. It was a lot colder up there and the high elevation was noticeable (especially with my asthma). The visitor center had some interesting exhibits on the tundra, a gift shop, and a cafeteria. We split a salad while we waited out the rain and prepared for our return trip.


Unfortunately, because of the rain our return trip down Trail Ridge Road was not as scenic as it normally would have been. We stopped at the Lava Cliffs to take a couple pictures, but a lot of the landscape was hidden by cloud cover.


Regardless, Rocky Mountain National Park is absolutely beautiful and we really enjoyed our day there. Hopefully we’ll make it back again so we can hike some of the other trails and explore the parts of the park that we missed on this trip. We were really happy with our itinerary for the day, so if you plan to visit someday, this would probably be a good starting point for your trip plans. I also want to mention a few tips: start early (you’ll beat the crowds and have more time in the park), bring your own food (there’s only a couple places in the whole park where you can get food), pack a jacket (it’ll be colder in the park than wherever you’re staying), and watch for wildlife.

 
 
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