The Lake House Update – Almost done!

Remember a couple of months ago, I introduced you to the Lake House? I’m excited to say that its coming right along!

Today, as I write, the electrician is hanging light fixtures and installing new outlets and light switches and the floor is going in.

We are in the final stretch!

 We’ve done the work of creating a layout that will work well for this family by removing and moving walls, creating new bedrooms, moving the kitchen, creating a new bathroom, replacing the roof, and updating the plumbing and electrical systems.

Since the last update we’ve done the following:

  • Framed in the new master bathroom and closet
  • Framed two new bedrooms in the area that used to be the garage
  • Installed drywall
  • Insulated the new bedrooms and added insulation to the attic for greater energy efficiency
  • Removed the wall between the living room and the new kitchen
  • Both the interior and exterior of the house have been painted. In a later post we’ll talk about choosing white paint. If you’ve ever painted with white, you know there are about a gazillion different whites!
  • The roof is brand spanking new, with hail resistant shingles. This was an upgrade, but we are prone to hail in this area and these shingles qualify the homeowner for a discount on her homeowner’s insurance
  • The electrical service has been updated and the electrician is doing the electrical trim work
  • The plumbers completed all of their rough-in work
  • I added shelves and hanging bars to the closets and made sills for the new windows
  • The bathroom window glass was replaced with safety glass

Now, we get to start adding all of the fun finishing touches, the things that will give this home it’s style and personality.

The homeowner chose a farmhouse look for the interior. We’ll achieve this by using white paint, gray trim, white shaker cabinets, bronze faucets and light fixtures and a mini-galvanized steel backsplash. To complete the look, we chose a rustic, wood, vinyl plank flooring.

This flooring is amazing. It easily clicks together, can be scored and snapped with a utility knife, installs over wood, concrete, tile and vinyl and is suitable for use in basements, has a built in underlayment, boasts a lifetime residential warranty, is waterproof and resists scratching. Wow! Amazing!

On top of all of that it’s available in a variety of colors and it looks great!

This particular floor is the Lifeproof, Walton Oak and you can find it at your local Home Depot.

It you want a low maintenance floor, this is a great choice!

We are all chomping at the bit to get this finished, but there’s still a few things left to complete before we can get the Certificate of Occupancy.

These include: 

  • Set kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities, 
  • Hang tile in the master bathroom and repair tile in the other bath. 
  • Have the final plumbing work completed
  • Lay the flooring
  • Install the trim
  • Hang siding
  • Finish the final electrical

It’s been fun watching the transformation of this house. I love seeing the house morph and change into something that will meet the needs of this family, that will become their home, full of laughter and life, a place where kids and grandkids will gather and where memories are made.

Stay tuned … I’m hoping to have this completed in three weeks so the family can get moved in and settled before Christmas! 

When Snow is More Than Just Snow

Early this morning, even before the night-time darkness had finally relented, the call came. No school today. Snow day! 

In our home, snow days have always been special, even when we home-schooled. When the snow fell deep enough that neighboring schools were shuttered for the day, we too would take a day off. 

I’d bundle the kids up and help them out the door. 10 minutes later they’d be back, wet and cold. Boots, gloves and wet clothes were shed and left in a pile by the door. Cold, little fingers wrapped around cups of hot chocolate and icy toes were stretched toward the fire burning in the fireplace. 

I’d put their wet clothes in the dryer, knowing it wouldn’t be long before we’d do it all again.  

Later in the afternoon, we’d gather around the fire and play a game or two. We’d play and laugh and I’d try to keep the peace as competitive little souls tried to learn how to lose … and how to win … graciously. 

Last winter we only had one snow day, late in spring. We didn’t know it then, but last winter, dry and warm, was a precursor to the drier summer that would result in massive wildfires across Colorado. Just south of us, the Spring Creek Fire would consume 108,000 acres, (or 170 square miles) and 130 homes making it the 3rd largest fire in Colorado’s history. 


Livestock died or were sold as ranchers struggled to find enough grass to fill theirbellies. A line formed at the water station as people were forced to haul water to meet their needs. 

I watched as the water in our creek slowed and eventually dried. A kind neighbor hauled water for our horses and calf while I dealt with a well that was struggling to produce water in these drought conditions. 

Late summer brought rain, and we dared to hope that the drought would lose it’s grip. Even then, we knew that winter would tell the real story. Rain was welcome and needed but only snow, and lots of it, could free us from the drought and it’s destruction.

Today is Halloween. Our little town will close Main Street and kids and adults alike will fill the streets. We call it Halloween Town and it’s a festive, annual tradition. Businesses and homes will offer candy, hot chocolate, cookies and cider. This year the fall decorations will be obscured by snow and winter coats will hide carefully chosen costumes. But, the cold can’t dampen the warmth of a community. People will brave the snow and cold and laugher will echo off of the mountain.

I don’t know if we will get the full 12” of snow predicted by the weather report. And I can’t predict with any certainty whether or not winter will continue to bring the snow we so desperately need. But there’s snow on the mountain and snow in my yard and sometimes, snow is more than just snow. Sometimes snow is hope. 

Finally Done! When a Tenant Damages Your Rental Property Part 3

Drumroll please! It’s taken a while, but it’s done! The damaged rental house is finally ready to sell. Well, mostly. I still have to put the remainder cabinet pulls on the kitchen cabinets.

When the tenant vacated the property, I was shocked and appalled at it’s condition. You can see what  the house looked like here.

Slowly, with a lot of elbow grease and more than just a little bit of money, it started to improve. For a list of repair items as well as some progress update photos, just click here.

But now, I’ll let the finished photos speak for themselves. 

In Part 2 of When A Tenant Damages Your Rental Property, I was trying to make a decision about the kitchen countertops. I finally made the decision to go with quartz, but when I tried to order them, I could not find anyplace that could have them done in less than 5 weeks. I did not want to wait that long!

I was lamenting to a friend and his reply was, “Well, figure it out kid.” So, because I’m impatient and because I rarely back down from a challenge, I did!

Floor and Decor sells un-fabricated quartz pieces. I purchased two pieces of quartz and did the fabrication myself. Actually, I had some help. That stuff is heavy! I purchased a handheld, wet tile saw and a diamond blade. I used that to slowly cut the material to length. For the smaller countertop, I also had to cut along the back length because the counter is not a standard depth. I used a 4″ grinder with a diamond blade to make the corners. This part was harder than I anticipated and I cut almost cut too far into the corner.

I used an over mount sink so I could not have to cut a hole for the faucet or polish and finish the edge of the sink hole. In the end,  these countertops were more money and a lot more trouble, but well worth it!

Letting this house go is bitter sweet. I see the landing on the stairs where I found Abigail asleep with our dog and a blanket one morning. I see the kitchen where Katie made loaf after loaf of homemade bread when she had her own little bread business. I see the garage door. Joseph shot hundreds of hockey pucks into a board leaned up against it. I see the bedroom that was once Alia’s and the radiator where Anna sat and did school work.

This was our home. We celebrated birthdays, opened Christmas presents and lived the holy amidst the mundane. Yes, letting go is bittersweet. But I’m glad we did the work to fix her up again. My friend Kathi reminded me recently reminded me to choose joy! So I rejoice in the life we had here.



October Fun in Small Town USA

It doesn’t look much like fall today. The mountain is obscured by gray skies and falling snow. The first snow brings it’s own simple magic. 

But two days ago, the landscape looked much different. Fall was still putting on a show with golden leaves and a deep blue Colorado sky. It was perfect, and a perfect backdrop for one of the most festive days of the year in our small town. It was the culmination of Homecoming week, and it is quintessentially small town America. 

For a entire week, all local students, from the tiniest little kindergartener to the seniors in high school participate in spirit week. High school students create a carnival for elementary students. All three schools, elementary, middle and high school, have daily, fun activities and contests for the kids. The high school hosts a dummy hunt and bonfire for it’s students.

It’s an entire week of fun but the highlight is Friday. A sloppy joe luncheon sponsored by the FFA kicks off the day, followed by a good, old fashioned, small town parade complete with floats, horses, classic cars, tiny cheerleaders and bantam league football players, a band, the local sheriff and fire departments, and even a goat cart! Yep! A GOAT cart.

Members of the community take a break from work and busy lives to line Main Street, visit with friends and cheer for their favorite float while children chase the candy raining down from parade participants.

Following the parade, it’s all football. First, the high school girls play a powder puff game, then of course, Friday night finds the boys taking the field. During halftime the Homecoming Court is always accompanied by little escorts.

In a couple of weeks, Main Street will once again be closed to traffic. Straw bales, pumpkins, ghosts and goblins will hang from homes and street lights.  In the crisp, night air festive homeowners, business, churches and community members will pass out candy, hot chocolate and apple cider. One homeowner traditionally builds a bonfire where people gather to visit and warm themselves. Children, adults and even an occasional dog will don costumes and fill the street expressing small town community yet again. 

This is October. This is our community. Celebrations and festivities traditionally reserved for high schoolers or small children spanning multiple generations. The magic isn’t in the activities. There’s nothing unique about Homecoming or Halloween. The magic is the tradition. It’s the sense of coming together, young and old. It’s the community and it’s everything we love about small towns. 

Pumpkin Pancakes

The changing Aspen trees are visible on the mountain this week. A week ago, the golden hues were sparse and tentative but now, on a clear day the vibrate colors can been seen from 30 miles away. 

It’s fall and that means it’s time to break out my favorite pumpkin recipes. This weekend I’m in Arizona helping my son and daughter-in-law build a faux fireplace. It so happens that my son loves pumpkin! So, before we headed to Home Depot for lumber and materials, we enjoyed a stack of Pumpkin Pancakes. It’s been a favorite in our family for years. 

Pumpkin Pancakes

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger *

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon *

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg *

a pinch of ground cloves *

(2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice can substituted for the spices with an asterisk)

1 1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 large egg

In a large bowl whisk** together the flour, sugar, baking powder and spices. 

** Remember when we used to sift? Sometimes sifting is still called for but often simply whisking the items together will yield the same result with less time and effort. Both add air to the mixture. 

In a separate bowl, blend the milk, pumpkin, oil and egg until smooth. 

Add to the flour mixture. Slowly incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry. 

When thoroughly combined, cook on a lightly buttered griddle heated to 350 degrees. If using a  stovetop griddle cook over medium to medium high. You can tell the pan is ready when a drop of water dances when dropped onto the hot surface. 

Serve with lots of butter (remember, butter is a side dish, not a condiment) and maple syrup. 

Tip: This recipe is amazing, (and healthier) made with whole wheat flour. If substituting whole wheat flour, be sure to use soft, white wheat. It has a lower gluten content than the hard wheat used for baking bread. 

Nothing says fall like pumpkin!

For the printable version, click here.

Saving the Planet with Paint and Great Tools

A couple of weeks ago I heard a staggering statistic. Nearly 10 million tons of household furniture finds it’s way to our landfills every year. 10 million tons! It’s hard for me to even wrap my mind around that number. It gave me renewed appreciation for the DIY community and our emphasis on up-cycling and reusing old pieces. As it turns out, we are doing more than just expressing our creativity and creating beautiful spaces, we are also doing something good for our planet. 

So last week when I was wanting to test a new paint sprayer I decided to paint a dresser I’ve had sitting in my garage. 

About 5 years ago I purchased a mid-century set of dressers for my son. We’d recently moved and he was home from college for the summer. We needed something to hold his clothing. He was very much into creating a bachelor pad, with clean, modern colors and furnishings. These dressers were solidly built with dovetail drawers and mahogany veneer. The clean lines were perfect for a coat of black paint and new, shiny chrome hardware. 

Ugly! But it has potential!

5 years later, one dresser sits in my daughter’s room, unchanged from the way I purchased it. The other, also unaltered,  spent some time with my oldest daughter but made it’s way back to my garage several months ago. 

I dusted off the cobwebs, pulled it from the garage and got to work. 

(Please note this contains  links by which This Place I Belong can profit and some items were provided to me free of charge. However, I never recommend a product I don’t believe in.)

First, I cleaned it with A Maker’s Studio Furniture and Cabinet Cleaner. This removes any dirt, grime, old wax or residue from dust and cleaning products. This is important because I had no idea what this old dresser had been exposed to. 

Next, using wood filler, I filled a couple of spots where the veneer was missing then sanded them after the filler had dried. Because I intended to use A Maker’s Studio Rescue and Restore Paint and it will stick to anything that would have been the extent of my sanding if the existing finish had been sound. However, the finish on this piece was chipping up in several places. I simply hit the bad spots with the sander. This took less than 10 minutes. 

At this point, I should have been ready to paint. However, my brief sanding had taken the finish down to the mahogany veneer in several places. It’s been my experience that when painting mahogany from this era, color will commonly bleed through the new paint. For this reason, I decided to prime. Initially I was going to spot prime the exposed areas only, so rather than use the new sprayer, I just grabbed a brush. 

I used the Specialty Wedge Brush from A Maker’s Studio. This microfiber brush is amazing! It lays down a beautiful finish with no brush marks. When it was all said and done, because I’m a little bit crazy and sometimes don’t know when to stop, I’d primed the entire dresser with a quality, water-based, stain blocking primer. 

But alas, I still experienced bleed through on the top where the mahogany had been exposed. I coated that spot again. And again. And again. Still, I had that ugly brown mark bleeding through. If you read my post on primers, you might be wondering why I didn’t use the shellac based BIN primer since I touted it as the absolute best. Good question. I had some water-based primer left from a project where low odor was desired, and I was out of BIN. Because I’m impatient, I decided to use what I had rather than make the trip to the store to buy BIN. 

After four, unsuccessful coats, I decided I had to have BIN. Bin comes in regular paint cans and in spray cans. For small things like this, the spray can is the ultimate in convenience.  I sprayed that obnoxious dark spot and like magic, it disappeared! Finally, I was ready to paint. 

I have a paint sprayer I use when painting large projects, like barns and whole houses, but I don’t pull it out very often. I simply don’t like cleaning it. So, unless it’s a large project, I typically reach for a brush or roller. 

Still, I was excited to try this little guy. It’s the HomeRight Finish Max Super Sprayer and the good folks at HomeRight sent me one to test. 

I used A Maker’s Studio Weathered Shutters Rescue and Restore Paint. This is a chalk-based, matte paint that does not require wax! You can wax it to achieve different looks, but you don’t have to. For me, this is a huge benefit. I only had 1 – 16oz jar of the Weathered Shutters paint and I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be enough for the entire dresser. That little jar covered the entire dresser with about 20% left over. 

For use with the sprayer, I diluted it with water by 20%. The sprayer came with several different tips and a chart showing which tip to use depending on the desired finish. I wanted a fine finish so I used the green tip. 

After I’d poured the paint into the sprayer, I realized it might have been a good idea to test with water in order to get a feel for how it works. Oh well. It was too late so I just started spraying and hoped for the best.  It was great! It laid down a beautiful finish and was so easy to use. 

I was a little frustrated because the spray pattern was fairly narrow. I wanted to be able to cover more with each pass. When the piece was finished and I was cleaning the sprayer, I discovered a little wheel I’d previously missed. That wheel allows you to control the width of the spray pattern. My impatience got the best of me again! If I’d taken the time to read the instructions before jumping right in, I would have known about that feature and saved myself some frustration. 

I loved using the sprayer, but the clean-up is what hooked me. It was so, so simple. I just pumped water through it then used the little brush provided to make sure I removed all of the paint from the little crevices and it was done, making this one of my favorite, must-have tools. 

When the paint had dried, I moved the dresser into my dining room to finish it.  That’s when I really noticed the smell. Rescue Restore Paint is infused with essential oils. It smells wonderful, and it wasn’t long before the smell filled the entire dining room. For days I found myself drawn to the dining room simply for the smell. 

I used the Floor Tile Traditional Mesh Stencil from A Maker’s Studio and Blessed Rescue and Restore Paint to add some interest to the piece. By the way, for a limited time, the Mesh Stencils are all 50% off! The stencil used on the dresser is only $9.00 and some are as cheap as $5.00.

Because I didn’t like the shape of the original hardware, I’d intended to change all of it. When I couldn’t find anything I really loved at Hobby Lobby I just used the Blessed paint and painted the original hardware. It turned out much better than I expected and I really liked the result. 


The dresser is still sitting in the dining room. It smells heavenly so I’m not in a big hurry to move it out and we are trying to decided where it should live. Three of my daughters are currently pleading their cases, each vying for the dresser that was once forgotten, abandoned and covered in cobwebs. It’s amazing what a little paint, a little time, and great tools can accomplish. 

Rising From the Destruction – When a Tenant Damages Your Rental House Part 2

It’s been a couple of months since the tenant vacated the rental house. If you missed that story, you can read about it here. Though I’ve had a lot of irons in the fire and progress is slow, work is progressing and it’s starting to feel like the end is in sight. The goal is to have it on the market by October 1st.

To date, the following work has been completed:

  • All trash and debris was removed and disposed of
  • The house was cleaned, cleaned and cleaned again
  • Exterior trim was painted (though we still need to touch up in places)
  • Much of the interior has been painted
  • Kitchen cabinets and appliances were removed
  • Bathroom sink and toilet were removed
  • Bathroom wall paper was removed
  • Wood floors were sanded and refinished
    Normally, this would be the LAST thing I do, but in this case, it was completed very early in the remodel. The flooring guy is good, which means he’s busy. It just so happened that his family’s camping trip was postponed, creating a little window in which he could do these floors. If I’ve learned anything doing this kind of work, it’s to be patient and flexible!
  • New flooring in the basement
    We used vinyl planks. Because they are economical, easy and quick to install and waterproof, they were a perfect choice for the basement
  • Steps were sanded
  • Holes in walls were patched
  • Active water leak where the dishwasher used to be was addressed
  • Grass was planted in the front and back yards
  • New kitchen flooring
    We used stick down vinyl tiles with grout. They look really great and install easily. Still, I would not have chosen this product if it weren’t for the radiators.This house still has the old, cast iron radiators and a boiler. I LOVE them. They create the softest, nicest heat without drying out the air.  But, when it comes to flooring they create a real headache.Thicker flooring would have required me to remove the radiators. The added floor thickness would have required adjustments to the plumbing that supplies the radiators. Not even my plumber wanted to touch that! So, vinyl tile!
  • New flooring in the main bathroom
    This room got the vinyl tiles as well for the same reasons.
  • Broken glass was replaced
  • Broken window frames were repaired
  • Swamp cooler was replaced
    If you’re from the arid Western US, then you’re probably familiar with swamp coolers. If you’re climate is humid, you may not have ever even heard of a swamp cooler. Swamp coolers are a very efficient method of cooling in dry climates. Essentially, a fan blows air over pads soaked in water, lowering the temperature up to 20 degrees.I love this method of cooling. It’s simple, efficient and economical. It also adds a little moisture to our dry air. As an added bonus, unlike the refrigerated systems that require all doors and windows to remain shut,  it works best if a window is cracked just a little bit.
  • New ceiling fans were installed
  • The kitchen received new cabinets

Master bedroom. I left some wall paper in the closet because it’s original to the house and I like it.



Bedroom 2

Bedroom 2

Bedroom 3 – Notice the missing window! It’s been repaired and needs to be reinstalled.

Bedroom 3

Kitchen floor

Kitchen in progress

New kitchen cabinets. I used 42″ uppers rather than the standard 30″. They look so much better with the high ceilings.

Dining room. I could not get an accurate photo of the wall color. It’s much more similar to the color of the kitchen walls.

Looking from the dining room into the living room.

The bathroom is coming along

If that sounds like a lot, it is, but it’s not quite finished yet.

  • We still need to install the kitchen countertops.
    I’m trying to decide between granite, quartz and good ole’ laminate. There’s actually a laminate, available over the counter at Lowes, that looks great! But, for only $900 more, I can get granite or quartz.Granite or quartz would definitely be more desirable for buyers, but the laminate would allow me to finish the kitchen immediately. That definitely has some appeal!Ultimately it comes down to value. Will the addition of the granite bring enough additional money upon the sale to justify it’s use. That’s the question I’m trying to answer.In some houses and areas, it most certainly would, but I have to take into account this area and the buyers likely to purchase this house. Honestly, I’m just not sure. I’ve reached out to my long time friend and realtor for some insight.
  • The backsplash needs to be done as well as some tile work around the stove
    The tile around the stove needs to be replaced. The old tile is in good condition but just doesn’t match the design.
  • Some of the kitchen walls still needs some patching and paint touch ups.
    Initially, I’d planned to put in two additional cabinets so we didn’t repair that wall. When I got the cabinets into the kitchen, it just felt too crowded. Now we need to go back and deal with that wall, as well as some areas around the cabinets
  • The bathroom vanity and toilet need to be installed
  • A new floor will be installed in the laundry room, after the painting is finished
  • The third floor still needs some drywall work and paint
  • Stain needs to be applied to the steps, then sealer
    I’m planning to stain the treads and paint the risers.
  • There’s still quite a bit of trim that needs to be painted
  • One bedroom needs carpet
  • Basement walls need patched, the paint touched up, wall paper repaired, trim added and the red wall painted
  • A couple of  the windows we repaired still need to be painted and reinstalled, and there’s quite a few other windows we still need to paint.
  • The back door needs replaced
  • The rail at the back steps needs to be welded. My 16 year daughter offered to do it for me! I’ve never mastered welding. The fact that she can do it is just about the coolest thing ever.  Someday when I master Instagram that will be a #proudmama
  • There’s a dozen little things, like hanging a mirror in the powder room, curtains in the living and dining room, and replacing the front door knob. At the end, it’s all those little things that make me want to pull my hair out! 

It’s the final stretch, but the end is in sight!




Introducing … The Lake House!

Lake Beckwith

A few weeks ago, I told you I’d be starting a new project for a client. I am so excited about this project and equally as excited to be working with the homeowner. Amy is a beautiful, strong lady and it’s my privilege to be able to create an inviting home for her and her daughters. 

Though the house is not located on a lake, I’ll call it “The Lake House” because a picturesque lake lies just to the west. 

Here’s  a peak at the list of things we’ll do to transform this house:

  • Upgrade the electrical service
  • Remove a wall to create a great room.
  • Move the kitchen
  • Create a new laundry room where the kitchen used to be
  • Remove an existing bathroom, a walk-in closet and another closet in order to combine two bedrooms and create a larger master bedroom
  • Creat a new master bathroom and a walk-in closet
  • Convert the garage into two bedrooms (after leveling the garage floor)
  • Build a new detached garage
  • New exterior and interior paint
  • New roof
  • All new flooring
  • New appliances
  • Some new lighting
  • New hot water heater
  • Update the existing bathroom


It’s a big project, but I’m confident we will create something amazing for Amy and her family. Keep scrolling to see the progress. Just keep in mind, it gets worse before it gets better! 

See this wall? It’s nearly gone. The drywall has bee removed and the electrical wires that used to be contained within the wall have been disconnected.

Below is a photo of what it looks like now. The framers will remove the 2 x 4 framing  and support the expanse with a beam. An engineer calculated the load requirements and specified the size and type of beam as well as the necessary support posts.

While we’re at it, did you notice the floors? The carpet was removed, then the floors were thoroughly cleaned, cleaned again, then sealed with BIN primer. This house had strong pet odors, but that stuff is amazing. I recently wrote about it here.

Here’s another view of that space.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we started. This space will be converted to a new laundry room and the kitchen will be moved.

This is what the old kitchen looks like now.

The master bedroom and another bedroom were separate by a bathroom, a walk-in closet for the master bedroom and another closet. These walls were removed to enlarge the master bedroom. The plumber will finish removing the old plumbing visible in the photo below.

This is a picture of the smaller bedroom, looking into the closet. Obviously.

And this was taken from the same bedroom, looking into the space where the closet used to exist.

The green arrow points to the smaller bedroom. A new bathroom and walk-in closet will be created in this space. The blue arrow indicates the former location of the smaller closet. The old walk-in closet is indicated by the red arrow, and the black is pointing to the former bathroom.

Finally, this gives you an idea of what this will look like when it’s done. In the second photo you can start to feel how open the main living space will be.

If you’re wondering what’s next, the plumber will demo the old plumbing, the electrician will start the service upgrade and we are waiting on the framers to come and create the new walls. The exterior is being painted now and the new roof will go on in 10 days or so. So often, with construction, we just hurry up and wait, or start and stop. Much like raising children, it develops patience!

Next week I’ll give you an update on the Adam’s house rental. It’s really coming along and should be able to hit the market in just a couple of weeks!

12 Cheap, Fast and Easy Paint Projects using A Maker’s Studio

Happy Fall! 

I know! Fall does not officially start until September 22nd, but there’s something about waving goodbye to August that makes me feel like it’s fall. It puts a little bounce in my step because fall is my very favorite season! I love them all, but if I had to choose only one, it would have to be fall.

I love the transition from summer grilling to slow cooked comfort food. I love the way the air starts to feel and smell differently. I love the colors, the apple harvest and the decorations. I just love fall! 

I can’t wait to jump into fall decorating and when I do, I’ll have a couple of new items recently created using A Maker’s Studio products. 

(Please note this contains an affiliate link by which This Place I Belong can profit. However, I never recommend a product I don’t believe in.)

Remember a couple of weeks ago I told you about A Maker’s Studio and the amazing paint and Mesh Stencils that can help fight human trafficking? (If you missed that, you can read about it here.) Last Monday, we had a paint party. Actually, it was paint and wine, along with some fresh fruit and cheeses. I’m not sure which my youngest daughter liked more, the painting or the snacks, sans wine, of course. 

In preparation for that gathering, my mom and I decided to create a whole bunch of art. I thought it would be good for people to see what’s possible with these products. I also thought it would be really great for me to work with them and see how they actually perform. 

I’d ordered a whole boxful of goodies, so for a few hours last weekend, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. My mom bought some pieces and frames from Hobby Lobby and I  visited the local Habitat for Humanity store. 

Here’s what we created! 

I love the simplicity of this little picture.

I’d never gilded anything before so I was excited to give it a try. I love how this turned out. I could have used more size, (the glue that holds the gilding to the project), and the gilding would have been more solid, but I wanted this look. It just feels older, more like an antique to me.

I purchased an old cabinet door from our Habitat for Humanity store for $2.00. It’s made of pressed board and had a plastic veneer that was peeling. I pulled the veneer off, lightly sanded a couple of spots that were rough, filled and sanded the holes left by old hardware, then sealed it with a spray polyurethane. After that dried it was ready for paint. I used Rescue Restore Paint for the background, followed by one of the Mesh Stencils and ChalkArt paint.

This was the first little project I made at the Haven Conference in July.

My mom purchased this little piece of wood at Hobby Lobby. Rather than making another wall hanging, I stained it with A Maker’s Studio Gel Stain, used the Deer Stencil, attached antler drawer pulls left over from another project and created a cheese tray. This would make a really fun gift!

This was part of a wooden wall from my parent’s kitchen. It was removed during renovations. We glued two pieces together then sanded the backside. When that was finished, I stained it with Gel Stain and allowed that to dry. Next, I applied a black wash  made by mixing Preaching to the Choir Rescue Restore Paint with water. After applying it and waiting for it to dry, I applied the Mesh Stencil. I really love this piece and love that it was made from wood scraps.

This was a picture frame that my mom purchased at Hobby Lobby. We just painted the backer board after staining the frame with Gel Stain.

This wooden Hobby Lobby piece was stained with Gel Stain before the Mesh Stencils were applied. When the paint dried, we stapled the silk flowers into place. Did I mention that I love fall decorations?!

This solid oak cabinet door from Habitat For Humanity only cost $1.00. One dollar! I simply filled the holes left by the knob and painted. The Mesh Stencil fit perfectly on the raised panel. So cheap and so easy!

Hobby Lobby sells canvas boards for just a few dollars a package. We painted the canvas with Rescue Restore Paint then washed with Metallic Silver ChalkArt paint. The wreath in the middle is one of the  A Maker’s Studio Clear Stamps. I used part of a Mesh Stencil to write  “Love”. The hanger is a partially finished piece of bead work from my mom’s craft cabinet and we used old buttons to attach it.


My youngest daughter created two t-shirts using Rescue Restore Paint and letter Mesh Stencils. The “Elvis” was a practice, on one of Grandpa’s old t-shirts. Sometimes he’s the premier Elvis fan. Other times he fantasizes that he IS Elvis!

This was her second attempt. The quote is from the tv show, Friday Night Lights. There are dozens of quotes that could go on t-shirts or wall art.

Last but not least, these are some of the projects created at our paint gathering. Didn’t they do a great job?!

After using the products, I’m just as excited as I was when I was first introduced to them. I look at everything in my house and wonder how it would look with paint and perhaps a Stencil!

You can see more creative and inspirational projects at A Maker’s Studio Facebook Page.

Of course, if you’d like to have a paint gathering, live or virtual, or learn how you can purchase these products at a discount, just let me know!

Happy Creating!

The Best Peach Pie Recipe Ever!

I’ve never given much thought to August. It’s just that awkward month, sometime between summer and fall without much to distinguish it. After decades of marginalizing August, I had somewhat of an epiphany this week. August is amazing, at least here in Southern Colorado. 

So, what sparked this change of heart, removed my blinders and allowed me to see August for all her amazing beauty? In a word … peaches! 

The western slope of Colorado grows some of the most amazing peaches in the world and August is the month they become widely available. It’s my personal opinion that no finer fruit exists anywhere! 

Some years I can as many as 200 pounds of ripe, yellow-orange peaches to be enjoyed by my family throughout the year. These home canned peaches are essential to an important family tradition dating back to my childhood. 

When I was a small girl, my Gramps, breakfast cook extraordinaire, introduced a new recipe to our family. He called them Swedish Pancakes, otherwise know as crepes. He would fill them with fruit, butter, powdered sugar and whipped cream. Though we sometime use fresh strawberries, through the years, we’ve dialed in on peaches as the fruit of choice. If you’ve ever had home canned peaches, you know the store bought varieties can’t begin to compare. 

With fewer people at home, I no longer have to can as many, but the canning tradition continues, none-the-less. This week I’ll start with the two boxes I bought from our high school wrestling team. Being able to help the boys while getting something I use and would buy anyway makes it one of my favorite annual fund-raisers! 

If the thought of freshly canned peaches isn’t enough to get your mouth watering, you need to try my Fresh Peach Pie recipe!

It was inspired by the Fresh Peach Pie recipe in my Grandma’s old Fannie Farmer Cookbook. I’ve tweaked it and adjusted it until I finally ended up with the recipe I now use. 

Fresh Peach Pie

  • Favorite Pie Crust recipe (click here for the printable recipe and here for a detailed post with instructions.)
    TIP: I make 3 double crusts every time and I freeze the extra. If I want to make a pie, it’s easy to pull the frozen crust of the freezer, thaw and use it. 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 8 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Submerge peaches in boiling water for a minute or two, depending on how ripe the peaches are, then move them to an ice water bath. This will allow the skins to peel right off. Peel and slice peaches.

Mix the sugar and flour in a  large bowl. Add the peaches and lemon juice and carefully mix.

Line a pie pan with pie crust. Pile the fruit into the pie plate. Place another crust on top, draping in over the fruit. If desired, you can trim the crust then crimp or flute. I like crust, so I roll the extra, tuck it under and then flute the edges to seal the two crusts together. 

Using a sharp knife, create vent holes in the top crust. 

Fruit pies can tend to bubble over and leak, especially if you fill them full like I do. So, create a little “pan” out of aluminum foil and place it on the rack below your pie in your oven. This will catch any drips and avoid making a smoking mess of your oven. 

If desired, lightly brush the top of the crust with a egg whipped with a little water and sprinkle with sugar. This helps create a beautiful golden brown top. I was rushing out the door to pick up my daughter when I made this pie, so I skipped this step. The pie would have been prettier if I’d done it! 

Bake the pie for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack.

If you cut it before it cools sufficiently, the fruit and juice will still be wet and runny. It’s now an exercise in patience! 

Serve with vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)


If you love it as much as I do, you might find yourself craving it in the middle of February. Trust me, when snow is piled up outside, fresh peaches can be hard to come by. Even if you could find them, and even if the quality was decent, you’d probably have to auction a kidney to afford them. That leaves you two choices. Either suffer through the cravings while counting down the days until August and the next peach harvest or plan ahead … and that’s easier than you think. 

Simply prepare the peaches according to the recipe. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and flour. Place them in a pie plate and immediately place them in the freezer. In a day or so, when they are frozen solid, or when you remember, remove them from the freezer. Place the pie plate in a shallow sink with hot water. The water really should be shallow here. You don’t want water coming over the edge of the pie plate and it should not touch the peaches. If it does, it will be fine and no one will ever know. It will just be one of those cook’s secrets! 

Allow the pie plate to rest in the hot water until the peaches are released from the pan. Wrap the frozen bundle in the aluminum foil, taking care to remove all the air. Wrap again in plastic wrap. This double wrapping will help prevent freezer burn. I then put the whole thing in a large zip lock bag. That way, if one of the kids fails to get the freezer door closed tightly and things start to thaw, I won’t have a sticky, peachy mess all over the freezer. This is, of course, hypothetical. My kids have never done anything like that! 

When you’re craving pie, simply prepare your crust, remove the frozen peaches from their packaging (placing the zip lock in a hot water bath briefly helps with this), place them in the crust in one solid, frozen lump and continue with the recipe. Because you froze them in the pan, they will fit perfectly!

You will need to bake the pie a little longer. Just add about 20 minutes to your time, allow the crust to turn golden and check to make sure the juices are bubbly. You’ll be able to tell because they will be on the aluminum foil pan you made to catch them.