Update on John Day: Population Approx. 1,500

Some people ask me how I like living here and I really don't know what to tell them. I like the mountains, the trees and the low traffic volume. I like thinking ahead to when my kids enter high school, knowing their absences will be announced on the local radio station, KJDY (no playing hookie for them!) I like that the banking staff call me by name and don't require a deposit slip. I like that my husband works about three minutes away, and that, actually, everything is about three minutes away: grocery store, bank, thrift store, church. It's true that small, rural communities are simpler than big cities. Things are very different than Cleveland: population 800,000.

But, there's a part of me that dislikes several aspects of small town life. I don't like the limited shopping (I couldn't find any Batman underwear while recently potty-training my own Batman, so I sewed on homemade Batman logos onto all of his underwear). We are three hours away from civilization (aka: Target, Costco, Wal-Mart), so when the dry cleaning truck breaks down, it's three weeks before you get your clean clothes back. And if you happen to miss the FedEx guy, you have to drive to a warehouse in Bend, Oregon, which is, you guessed it, 3 hours away.

And, when I just need a break from the chaos of it all, there is no where to go, except if you count the grocery (open until 9 PM) or the library (only open 2 nights a week, with about half the books Western paperbacks). Sometimes I still think I can just zoom to Target and browse the new stuff in home decor, but then I am really disappointed when I realize that I now live here, and there is nothing of the sort anywhere nearby.

And when I get thinking this way, I start feeling too materialistic, like I am not focusing on the stuff that really matters. It's a fine line I walk.

So, in response to that question, "So, how do you like it here?" I guess I should just say in a Russian accent, "Feevty-feevty." That's what it is for me right now, fifty-fifty.


Photoshop, I Think I Love You
I found this photo while browsing the web a while ago, really liking it's folksy quality.

So, doing some tweaking, cropping and coloring in Photoshop, I came up with some portraits of the girls (a few of them for my walls, pictures to come).

And I couldn't stop with the turn-of-the-century Russian girls. Sitting Bull got some time (and some rosy cheeks) in Photoshop too!
Wall Decor Inspiration
I've been hanging artwork, pictures and framed objects lately, finally making this house more of a home. Here are some of the images that I'm inspired by lately:

I've never really gotten into Native American decor before this, but I'm really drawn to it lately. I've seen alot of it popping up around blogland, and because Eastern Oregon is primitive and Western-y, it is especially appealing to me right now. I haven't framed or hung any Indian chief portraits yet, but I still think they're really cool.


No. 2 at the sink, her hair still wet from the bath

No. 4, the fun one, always ready to laugh and be silly

No. 3, or Batman, as he likes to be called, up to his usual nonsensical antics

No. 1, the first-grader at his quad of desks after the Christmas concert

I always thought I wanted 5 or 6 kids. When I would pretend to be "running errands" on my bike, riding through an orchard of trees that were, in my imagination, stores and offices, I envisioned 5 or 6 kids in the back of my car. In imaginary land, my mind always reverted me to the role of Mother. And I've never questioned that role since. Even when I was single and hopelessly unmarried (only in Provo, UT can a 21-year-old singleton feel she is the age of the ancients), I still desired to someday be a mom.

Fast forward 10 years to me, now: 31-years old, married, four children to call my own and I stay at home with them day in and day out. I now have these little people in my life that I always imagined I would have. It feels surreal. What were once littler glimmers in my eye (what does that mean exactly?) are now toddling around my house, throwing tantrums, eating what I cook, and following my rules (sometimes). Child by child, I have created a mini-me-Universe, where even their feet look like mine, not to mention their hair color, a girlish-raspy voice, and the same mannerisms. It's spooky and so amazing at the same time.

So, what do I do now? My cup is full. My emotions are maxed out on a daily basis and I don't have the energy, (at least for now and what looks like the future) to raise anymore of these beautiful creatures. They require all that I have to offer and more on all levels. I want to give them all that I have, which most of the time feels like it's not enough. I don't feel like I could handle 1 or 2 more children on top of these four, which doesn't coincide with my childhood notions of having 5 or 6 kids.

I have thought alot about this in the past year or so and I have decided that it's okay. It's okay that I will probably not have more than 4 children (and, to be honest, I haven't given away my maternity clothes, yet). But, I really don't feel like I need to overextend myself to the point of being too stressed and too overwhelmed just to fulfill a childhood dream. It's okay. The children I have are a handful and adding any more to the mix would push me over the edge.

I loved this talk from LDS General Conference about children. It hit it on the head. I'm just putting this topic out there because it's been on my mind alot and I thought maybe others would have some thoughts as well. If you do, please share.


Framing Artwork
I'm finally getting to the fun part of changing a space: wall decor. Lately I've been having a good time getting these bare walls dressed.

One of my favorite pieces I put together is this sky painting I had that my (newly-married) sister Emily did several years ago. Using a cool vintage frame from my sister Whitney, I cut down the painting and mounted it in the frame. I like how the gold of the frame draws in the beige from the curtains.

I love this painting. I love the style of it, the looseness and all the different colors you see when you look up close. Emily is my go-to for great original art.

And speaking of fitting artwork for frames, I trimmed this painting down to fit this frame. Both the painting and the frame come from the treasure trove of my Mom, who is very generous to let me come over and pick out things from her stash.

Bathroom Floor + Vanity

After Thanksgiving, Travis replaced the kids' bathroom floor vinyl with porcelain tiles. It looks so much better and feels so much better on the feet. The only thing I wish I could re-do is the grout. It is too white. I wanted something that would blend in with the tiles, but instead, it is an ivory color that contrasts with the tile and makes it look alot like the previous flooring. Oh well.

I also painted the vanity white (I know, surprise, surprise) to give the bathroom a lighter feel and look. Travis moved the vanity over so it is flush with the wall now, giving us a little more room between the toilet and the vanity. It comes in handy come bathtime when all four kids are getting out of the tub at once, towels going everywhere, bodies everywhere.

Little Owl

I picked up this little ceramic owl for $1 at a local antique store, spray-painted, then brushed-on acrylic paint, and now he is perched on my entry cabinet. I like him so much better without those scary black pupils staring at me!
Music Cabinet
I bought this old, solid (read: heavy) sheet music cabinet for $20 from a friend in Cleveland. I love it's tall, narrow look and the tiny pulls. It has good proportions and is simple, which is always a good thing. I decided it looked too shabby chic in my living room, so I decided to bite the bullet of inexperience as a refinisher. It didn't turn out super-professional, but I really like the natural look of the walnut. It makes the room feel more woodsy, which is what I was going for.

(Above) After stripping and sanding this thing to pieces.

(Above) After applying two coats of Danish oil stain. It was so fun to see it transform into life once I applied the Danish oil stain. (Note: I liked the oil stain too because it is a one-step process versus having to stain the wood, then apply polyurethane).

And here she is amongst her counterparts in the living room. And, what is that in the background? A huge volcanic-like mound of laundry? Yes. That is my folding table which never gets used for dining, sadly. We eat in the kitchen.
More Before/Afters of Fox Kitchen Remodel

In order to make the doorway wider, Travis had to change out the tall metal duct from an rectangular-shaped one...

...to a 6" round one.

The doorway BEFORE

And, ah, after. I think it looks so much better....

...now that it matches the other archway.


Christmas: Came and Went

It doesn't seem possible that the holidays are over. It's kind of sad, but it's also nice to have a new start (and to get that dry old Christmas tree out of here!) To recap, in December 2011, I want to remember:

  • Finn's School Christmas concert
  • Dying my hair orange with a home kit, then going almost platinum in the salon
  • Opening presents almost a week early
  • Delivering goodie plates in keeping with tradition: fudge, kiss cookies, caramels
  • All the goodie plates we received from our new friends here
  • Spending Winter Break in Tri-Cities and Boise
  • The advent calendar candy that never made it to Christmas Day
New Coat Closet

Last month we took down the doors of our rear-entry coat closet, took down the coat-hanging rods and hung hooks inside instead. It's much more kid-friendly because you don't have to open any doors to get to the coats, hats and gloves. Plus, you don't have to deal with hangers. I love how it turned out. It's the perfect little niche for all our outerwear and doesn't get in the way of traffic flow (a welcomed change from our tiny back hallway in Cleveland where we were stepping over each other just to put on coats and get out the door).

New Artwork
I have been stewing about what type of wall decor to put on my large kitchen wall (the one where the row of cabinets was). I attempted to make my own Andy-Warhol-ish piece, but that didn't turn out, so I went back to the drawing board. I have always loved this old photograph my Mom has of my Dad's family gathered around the table. So, while I was in Boise, I had it blown up 318 times the original. I had it done at Eagle Blue, a large-format printing place, and they scanned it on a high-resolution scanner, then used a high-res. printer to print it.

It's on a matte photo-like paper and is about 4' by 5.75'.

I really like how it turned out. I think it gives a vintage, museum-like quality to my kitchen and I love that it is a piece of family history. I thought it was well worth the $56. Now, if I can just keep those crayons and markers of my little artists off of it!
A Productive Visit to Boise
Over the break, we went to Boise to visit and for Travis to give my Mom her Christmas present: a mini-kitchen remodel.

He expanded the little pocket door next to the fridge (on the right) into a wider arched doorway like the existing one (on the left).

He also moved the large island (the one with the grey countertop, on the right), making the space about 3 times larger. In it's place, he built a smaller 30" square island out of a cabinet and old legs out of my Mom's collection. My mom got the marble top at a countertop store for only the cost of cutting and honing the edges. The kitchen feels 3 times bigger. It really makes a difference when there are lots of people eating and being served, which happens alot at that place.

My mom is going to paint and stain the new wood and old legs dark to match the cabinet.

Some serious puzzle-playing going on on a Sunday afternoon.

The mountain goat who saw it all go down.

We also moved the dining room table into the front room, which works well now that the doorway into the front room is larger, giving diners easier access to the table.

And the carrot cakes cooling, christening the new counter.

It was a fun/busy/crazy/rewarding trip. With Travis gifting the labor to my Mom, it was like getting a $10,000 kitchen makeover for less than $500 (the cost of materials). And by using things she already had (the island and the pieces for the new island), she saved alot of money that way. I can't wait to see what it looks like next time I go and it's all painted, put back together and more stylized by my Mom.
Virtual Christmas Card

(A little late) we wish you and yours a wonderful new year!