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Cozy Cottage/Rustic Decor' Ideas, Mountain Aspen Glow, Mountain Glow For Body and Soul, Uncategorized

Beauty From Scars

Everyone has scars from the difficult times in their lives. They range from minor to very serious scars, ones that run deep into the soul.

For Mike and me some of our deepest scars have resulted from finding that two of our three children had very serious special needs. And then, having fallen in love with them both, losing them to heaven…Kristie at age 3 and Bradley at age 18.

il_570xN.1141767426_jqf8Fast forward to the present when we are immersed in our business Rocky Mountain Glow. Much of our business revolves around the wood products we make, lamps and candles.

When we go hunting for our wood in the mountains, we always look for standing dead aspen that has been distressed, scarred you could say, from stormy weather and from perhaps elk sharpening his antlers on the then fresh white bark.

il_570xN.1428986188_iv5tWe seldom take wood that doesn’t have scars, because the scars is what gives it beauty and character. The distress is what makes the wood able to reach out and capture the hearts of people

It makes us think of our own lives. Without the scars, we all would lack depth and would be less able to touch the lives and souls of others.

So we have a special affection for our scarred wood. It serves as a constant reminder that distress and scars so often result in beauty, in wood, and much more importantly, in human hearts.

 

Uncategorized, Mountain Aspen Glow, Cozy Cottage/Rustic Decor' Ideas

The Beginnings and Evolution of a Home-Based Business

A Lady Worth Emulating

A few years ago, after I was no longer raising kids, or employed in any way outside the home, I asked myself what I’ve always wanted to do when I didn’t have the majority of my time defined for me each day.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I did during those years! But time changes things, and I found myself in a new season of life.

I thought of the times I had read Proverbs chapter 31 and how impressed I was with the woman described there! She was home-based and thoroughly committed to her family and her home, yet she was not just”the happy homemaker” whose skills didn’t stretch beyond making cookies (although I’m sure she could make a mean batch of cookies in whatever form of stove she had!)

But no, it didn’t stop there. She was an astute business woman, and a compassionate and generous person in her community. I wanted to be like her.

“She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands”  OK, thought I, she’s a sew-er. I like to sew. I’ve been sewing ever since my 7th grade sewing class. So I started an etsy shop, made table runners, and used some of the photography skill that I had recently developed to display them. The shop was then entitled “Bev’s Table Creations”  Etsy has about two million sellers, and it seemed when I looked at the shops that sold runners, there had to be thousands of table runners! I didn’t expect to get anywhere fast.

But the first week, my phone went “cha-ching” (the sound of a cash register indicating an etsy sale). You’re kidding! I was incredulous! I sold a runner! But being such an unbeliever, it turns out that I didn’t have enough fabric to fill the order. So off my husband and I drove to Denver, three hours total there and back, to get the fabric I needed since the fabric store in my town was out. We spent way more money on gas than we made on that runner. But from then on, I was well-stocked and ready to go.

download.pngAnd much to my amazement, my runners sold and sold. It turns out women love to have seasonal table runners for special occasions. And when I started making reversible runners, with ,say, Thanksgiving on one side and Christmas on the other. The orders got hard to keep up with.

But guess what. Sewing has always been fun for me but when it became such full time work, I knew that I didn’t want to do this long term.

But I did loooove being an entrepreneur. And that was the spirit of the Proverbs 31 woman. It didn’t have to take the specific form of sewing.

The Challenge That Started Everything

Now Mike, being fully immersed in his corporate job, had no intention of doing entrepreneur work. But I asked him if he would consider making something out of wood for the shop to expand the potential a bit.

Little did I know that latent within this man who had pretty much never done any woodworking in his life, lay undiscovered giftedness!

OK, this is a blog, not a book. So fast forward. Bev’s Table Creations is now Rocky Mountain Glow, with wood products being the main attraction of the shop. And Mike, it turns out, like Michelangelo who said he could “see” David in the stone before he sculpted it, Mike is able to “see” lamps, candles, and other awesome wood items in a random wood log, and make it into something beautiful!

SONY DSCWe knew we were on to something when we got an order for 16 centerpieces comprised of Mike’s awesome candles and a little decorating handiwork on my part, to be used at the Broadmoor Hotel. “Hey, people really like this stuff,” we commented to each other.

An Unexpected Inspiration

Then I did something kind of weird. I signed up for a class at the local senior center. I had never done so before. It was a wood burning class. I expected to be surrounded by feeble classmates barely able to hold the hot iron. But much to my amazement, I was instead surrounded by very talented, gifted, and able artists! And I learned much from them and from the teacher.

DSC06099ed.jpgI was however disappointed when I and one other woman in the class who were the only newbies had to work the entire 6 weeks on an ugly “tree spirit” rather than on the cute little squirrel that the others got to work on.

But as it turned out, learning to shade and color leaves would be a valuable part of our business in the future, but I had no idea of that at the time.

Not only that, but a group of the men in the class were into making walking sticks because wood carving was also among their areas of expertise, and they, along with the teacher, would go out with a pick up truck and gather wood for sticks.

I listened carefully to their conversations, as if a fly on the wall, and brought it all together as an idea for our shop. What if we made customized walking sticks with wood-burned names and designs?

Long story short, these sticks have become our best sellers. I also do some wood burning on lamps.

Fun Work Improvements

So the final part of our story I would like to share is the improvements we recently made in Mike’s working conditions. I have a lovely workshop in our lower level, where I even have a little kiln for making fused glass jewelry, as well as all my other endeavors.

But Mike has worked in a corner of our garage and outside sanding in wind, cold, heat, and snow.

I should mention that during the past year or so, Mike has come to love this work as much as I do, and when retirement comes upon us, we’re going for it full time.  Wait! I thought retirement was for stopping work. That’s not how we see it. We’ve only just begun!

Mike says he finds that the time flies by when he is doing wood working, and that it is therapeutic for both body and soul. Remember the Proverbs 31 woman who “works with eager hands’? both Mike and I find that we love this work!

Back to the point, Mike needed some improvements in his working conditions if this thing was going to be long term.

He also has been using mainly hand tools. That’s nice for home projects, but our sales have doubled since this time last year, and we need to keep up with the pace.

With a little coaxing (Mike is always slower to spend money on anything than I), we both agreed that we need to invest in some things that make our (especially his) work “faster and easier,” which has become our theme for the year.

The first thing we did was to get a small chain saw. We had been sawing down our “standing dead” aspen with a hand saw (and after a while I pooped out because it was just too hard) but now we can zoom through the forest finding the dead wood that we need. Yes, we have permission to do this. It is legal to take dead wood from the national forests as long as it is not to large and not too much.

The next thing we did was to purchase an awesome Sunset shed for a workshop for Mike. How fun it has been to get it ready.

Our son Ricky came over to help Mike put in the electrical stuff needed to have power. Mike did the digging and wiring outside and Ricky did the wiring inside.

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And now we have room to roam…room for such items as this band saw, which among many other features, is able to make these wood slices…something which used to take a huge amount of time and energy. But now…it cuts like butter.

 

Rocky Mountain Glow may or may not become a super thriving business. But one thing is for sure, we’re having a lot of fun giving it a go!

rockymountainglow.etsy.com

Mountain Aspen Glow, Mountain Hikes and Adventures, Uncategorized

The Best Place for an All-Day Picnic in Colorado (in our opinion)

Pine Valley Ranch Park is a not-so-well known gem that Mike and I stumbled upon a couple years ago. If you’re looking for one of Colorado’s grand hikes, no…it’s not that. For one thing it is surrounded by the burn of the Hayman fire of 2002, which was the largest wildfire of Colorado’s recorded history. In every direction you can see the scorched remains of trees. But it is as if God set a boundary that this gorgeous little area would not be burned.

Although it is not a great super hiking place, the short stroll-like hikes are fabulous. There is a level natural river walk that Mike and I think is the best river walk ever, and we have walked along a lot of rivers! The North Fork of the South Platte River runs through the park. I should say roars through the park! Love this inspiring walk before lunch. Take a look at the very short video above of the roaring river 🙂

IMG_2433edThe picnic area is idyllic. Surrounded by large and shady pines, the river is just a stone’s throw away.  I love to go wading in the river while Mike cooks, (Today we had hamburgers cooked in a fry pan on the camp stove. Usually we have grilled chicken) The water is icy, and I mean icy from the melting snow from whence it originated.

 

IMG_2438edMike takes his own kind of leisure while the food cooks, although today in addition to his chair lounging, I actually got him to join me in the river for the first time.

We were there on a Saturday in the middle of the summer on a gorgeous day, and yet we were joined only by two families in the tables by the river. Lots of kids, but happy sounds of memories being made!

IMG_2460edAfter lunch we lounged with a Bible and  a couple good books just for a while, sharing our favorite parts and watching Old Man River amble by.

 

 

 

IMG_2462edWe couldn’t leave without saying hi to the sparkling lake which is a pleasant little hike away. The ducks, the sun highlighting the ripply water, the green meadows and wildflowers, and the majestic hills in the background made us not want to leave.

We go on lots of day trips and about some we say, “that was nice, but once was enough.” But not so Pine Valley. We plan to go at least once a year as long as we are able.

Mountain Aspen Glow

Voted #1 on Buzzfeed

We have an etsy shop, rockymountainglow.etsy.com,  and noticed that our sales were way up before Father’s Day. I mentioned to one of our customers that we were running out of wood for our walking sticks and he said, “I guess the Buzzfeed article was both a blessing and a curse.” I typed back, “May I ask what article?” and he sent me the link to an article sharing the 45 best Father’s Day gifts for outdoorsy dads. And our sticks were listed as number one!

Take a look, since Father’s Day is over, maybe you’ll get some great ideas for birthdays for your special outdoorsy gi. You might even like our sticks!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/francinehendrickson/best-fathers-day-gifts-for-outdoorsy-dads?utm_term=.lrXWByGKp#.jtXj8z5WK

il_570xN.1062022207_h0sy

Mountain Bubble, Mountain Glow For Body and Soul

Sore Muscles, Pinched Nerve Relief…and more!

I created Mountain Balm when I had a pretty severe pinched nerve that laid me up for 6 weeks. During that time, several times a day, I did so look forward to applying the balm to my back. I found it to be cooling, soothing, and I believe even healing.

This balm packs a punch! It is made with 10 soothing, healing, reviving essential oils including peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus, frankincense, lavender, orange, rosemary, fir needle, ylang ylang, and clove.

The cream base includes no additives or water, just rich shea butter, organic extra virgin olive oil, and organic virgin coconut oil.

All ingredients are whipped together into a soothing whipped, creamy balm.

Mountain Balm Set: So many injuries, aches, and pains are in our backs, and it is difficult to apply any treatment to one’s own back. When I was injured I used a rubber spatula with a washcloth wrapped around it, secured with a rubber band! But the washcloth absorbed most of the balm and was clumsy.

So in this set, I have included a balm applicator. It is wrapped in a soft flannel cloth, not as absorbent as a washcloth and so won’t waste the balm, and can be used with or without the cloth. The patterns on the fabric include both feminine and masculine choices.

Also included in the set is a rice bag, affectionately called a “comfy bag” in our house, which can be placed in the freezer for a couple hours and then applied to cool inflammation, or it can be heated in the microwave to soothe aching muscles.

The set makes a perfect gift for a woman or a man and comes wrapped in festive cello wrap and ribbon or jute twine.

To purchase Mountain Balm or Mountain Balm Set click here.

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Cozy Cottage/Rustic Decor' Ideas

Fireplace Remodel: A challenge worth taking.

 

 

Here in Colorado Springs, many people set off on the adventure of climbing Pike’s Peak, one of the many “14er’s” on the Front Range.  Some even run it! A 14er is a mountain peak with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet.

The reason I bring this up as an introduction to Mike’s and my adventure of remodeling our fireplace with stone is because although many people our age brave the climb of Pike’s Peak, I would never be inclined to do it because having limited energy, I like to see a result from extreme exertion. And, at least for us as newbies, remodeling to a stone fireplace, was indeed extreme exertion, but worth it. By the way, kudos to those who climb the mountain! And if you’d like to read a blog about adventures on “America’s Mountain, click here.

IMG_1931So here is our tile fireplace. These shiny, hard-to-clean terra-cotta tiles were everywhere in the home we bought 10 years ago…the floor, the bathrooms, the kitchen back splash, the fireplace…everywhere! And the fireplace is the last remodel to remove them all from the home.  Good riddance!

The estimates to transform this fireplace to a stone fireplace ranged from $6,000 and up. (This, I believe, was not counting the materials needed for the project.) We weren’t even looking for anything elaborate, such as an arched stone design to the ceiling, just a rather simple remodel. So Mike and I took on the challenge to do it ourselves.

I suppose you could call this a “tutorial,” but this is different from most tutorials in that anything learned will be just as much from our mistakes as from what we did right.

IMG_1936We decided to hire a couple of high school seniors (who incidentally were in my first-grade class when I was a teacher!), to do the demolition.  They did such a fabulous job, were hard workers, and fast too! These young men are just as delightful as they were in first grade, only now all grown up!

I actually was hoping we could use them for more of the work, but from here on out, there would be so much decision making during the job, that we knew it would be slow with a lot of changing our minds and back-and-forth discussion (commonly known as arguing!), and much re-evaluation mid-course, so alas, we had to forge ahead on our own.

IMG_1979One of our first adventures was to pick out the stone. We really wanted real stone, which we bought and had delivered, but when we got it, we felt that it was kind of mono with little color, so we added some fake stone. What you see here is a combination. The real stone is kind of blah on its own, and the fake stone looked just a little fake, but together, they look just right. See what I mean about a lot of decision making?!  We ended up using about 75% real stone.

The look for this fireplace will be “lodge.” Both Mike and I love to hang out in mountain lodges by the stone fireplace. I know some people would not choose the lodge look, but then again, I would not choose many of the fireplaces that I see! So as the song used to go, “Different strokes for different folks.”

 

 

Mike’s tendency toward meticulous work paid off in this stage of things where we had to do all the under-workings of the job just right so that the heavy stone would stay on the wall for a good long time! The estimated weight of a stone wall is 120 pounds per square foot, so things must be done right!

First, he applied concrete backer board; then black felt paper for a vapor barrier since mortar tends to attract moisture; next, the metal lath to give a good hold to the mortar which is soon to come.

And finally, we applied the first coat of mortar, which is the “scratch coat” so that the final application of mortar has something to get a grip on.

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In between all this, I had been organizing rock so that it wouldn’t just be in a big pile when it came time to apply it. Trust me, in moving that stone from here to there, I have taken lots of hot baths in an attempt to soothe my achin’ muscles! And I hate to think of how Mike’s muscles must have felt as he did the heavier lifting.

 

Meanwhile, I tried different creative ideas to place over the fireplace unit. I tried wood burning some designs. I tried some beautiful tiles I got from a fellow etsy seller (potsbydeperrot.etsy.com).

SONY DSCStill, the whole thing was just not striking us right, and after all, whatever we decide will be “in cement” literally!  So the tiles with wood burning now have a wonderful home…in the guest bathroom! The colors coordinate perfectly.

I take time to share this, to show that it involves lots of experimenting and thinking to hit on just the right thing. And in the process, though plans change, good can come from the experimenting, but be completely different from what we first had in mind!

IMG_2030edIt’s amazing what a big job can be done with such relatively small, regular tools. This is Mike cutting the flagstone for the hearth with his angle grinder, the only adjustment he made is that he purchased a diamond blade…cuts right through thick stone! When we bought the stone and the person behind the counter found out we were cutting our own, she told us we could make lots of money shaping stone because people and landscaping companies come in all the time asking for that service. But Mike was quick to say, no thanks! (He much prefers his woodworking that we do for our shop rockymountainglow.etsy.com)

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And the hearth is laid, but not yet mortared on. Our achin’ backs tell us…quit for today. It will be there tomorrow!  After lifting the heavy flagstone much of the day, the rocks are going to seem feather-light for the next part of the job!

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A day or two later, finished! With the hearth, that is. We get to sit on it…how exciting 🙂

 

 

 

IMG_2041So the first rocks went up. We loved the look. But one problem, the lovely reddish-brown mortar we chose absolutely stained all the rocks. Nice color, even on the rocks, but we didn’t want all the rocks to be the same color! So we pried them off while there was still time, and decided to use good ol’ grey non-colored mortar to proceed. It too gets all over the rocks, and is hard to clean, but doesn’t stain. These are the kinds of setbacks that newbies have. Problem is, once we learn the ropes, it won’t help us, because I’m quite sure that we will never do a stone fireplace again!

IMG_2071edMost masons recommend working bottom-up rather than top-down due to the stabilizing effect it has on the higher stones. The ones who prefer starting at the top give these two reasons: You can choose and arrange your stone lines rather than just ending up with whatever you end up with working from the bottom up. The other advantage is that when the wet mortar falls, it doesn’t mess up the rocks below and there is less clean up. All things considered, it’s probably safest to work bottom-up, which is what we did for most of the project.

IMG_2074edSo we have finished the upper part of the rock work. We have textured the side walls and still need to decide on what paint to use. We still have the bottom part of the long hearth bench to do, but you know what? We’re tired! So remember the young men I mentioned who took out the tiles? We have hired them to help us with the rock work on that area close to the floor. It will be good experience for them perhaps for the future, and Mike and I will have a much needed break from doing it completely alone. Plus lifting rock from that low position? Nope. That is for young bodies!

IMG_2084edWe have a week before we begin the last leg of the journey, the bottom of the hearth, so we are doing some things while we wait, like painting the side walls. Earlier, we textured the walls with a technique called “skip trowel,” which gives a little bit of a Sante Fe look. Mike textured one side of the fireplace and I did the other. In this picture, he is painting the base color over his texturing, which is different from the texturing I did. In fact, no two persons can ever texture exactly like the other. It is, as they say, an expression of the soul. I like them both, and it will make a conversation piece that our two sides look different from each other…expressing our personalities.

IMG_2098edThe other thing we are doing while we wait is to condition and seal the flagstones, as well as the rock around the fireplace.  This product (511 Seal and Enhance) is really good, and although it is pricey, I did one whole side of the fireplace and a couple flagstones with just about 1 1/2″ of product in a plastic cup. So it goes a long way. It conditions, protects and takes away the chalky look of the stones. With just a one quart bottle, we should have enough left when we finish to treat the stamped concrete sidewalk outside.

Back to the paint for a moment. We decided to flip-flop the paint we had above the mantel shelf, where we used a darker brown paint for the base and then added a lighter brown faux finish with a feather duster! We did that about 10 years ago and it still looks good.

SONY DSCSo on our current project, we took the same paints but used the lighter paint for the base and the darker paint to feather dust the faux finish. This is my side of the texturing. The wall above the mantel does not have the skip-trowel texturing as this does, just a regular orange peel texture.

 

If you have hung in there this long in your reading, I am happy to inform you that this fireplace “journey” will soon be over (this weekend) and this blog will come to an end too!

However, there is the bottom part of the hearth bench to finish. Above are pictures showing what I hope will be an interesting part of the rock hearth. In our home, not only are we blessed to have a full view of Pike’s Peak from our windows and deck, but we also see our very own bluff, Pulpit Rock, which is pictured above. And also pictured above in front are some rocks that we gathered from this bluff on Easter morning. So we plan to use them in the hearth to kind of bring the out of doors right into our house. I only wish we had thought to gather stones from the top of Pike’s Peak when we were there, but too late now! The show must go on.

 

 

After a short briefing on laying stone, we let Jonathan and Luke do the lion’s share of the work of actually getting the stones onto the wall. By the way, real stones are considerably more difficult to adhere than lighter fake stone. Meanwhile, Mike cut stones outside (stone laying is a lot like fitting a puzzle together). I followed along with the work inside and applied mortar to the joint lines and washed the stones, because, obviously, it is easier to remove unwanted mortar when it’s wet than when it’s dry.

And just in case you really are reading this as a tutorial, earlier I said that we used some (about 25%) manufactured stone to add color. Shows you what we know! After we treated the stones, the real stone was much more vibrant and the fake stone faded when it was washed and looked blah. Just the opposite of what I thought would happen. So on the bottom part of the hearth, we used zero manufactured stone.

 

IMG_1931IMG_2139So here you have it, before and after!

I haven’t yet cleaned and conditioned the bottom rocks, and when I do they will be much more vibrant. But I’m going to send this picture because I am so ready to be done with the fireplace and with writing this blog (although I have enjoyed it!), and now…I just want to relax by my fireplace for a while!

Mountain Hikes and Adventures

Adventures of Pike’s Peak Enthusiasts

The biggest adventure I have ever personally experienced with Pike’s Peak (other than the thrill of seeing all of its changes and nuances outside of the windows of our home each day!) is driving up there with family. It is one of the wonderful 14er’s on the Front Range of Colorado. What’s so adventurous about driving up Pike’s Peak? Well, it is a narrow road and most of the way there are no guard rails. Let me tell you, it is a thrill to look down out of the car window and see open space that could be described as an abyss!

But I’m going to show you some pictures of people who have had true adventures on “America’s Mountain.”  By the way, Pike’s Peak was Katherine Lee Bates’ inspiration for the song America the Beautiful. You can read about that here.

So following are pictures of people doing wild and crazy things on this mountain. I know that each year on New Years I shudder as I think of the group of people who climb Pike’s Peak in the often frigid temperatures, wind storms, and blizzards to set off fireworks at midnight!

Here are some pics of those who just couldn’t control themselves from experiencing the thrill of exploring this marvelous mountain.