merry christmas friends

It magically snowed for the first time this year on Christmas Eve & it was beautiful! Not a lot, just enough to make it feel like Christmas. 

Every year I get my craft on, and hand make cards to send out. I feature something I've photographed throughout the year. Most of my holiday cards are equine oriented. Sending cards for any occasion is becoming a thing of the past, and homemade ones even more so. I don't make things by hand very often, and look forward to the creative thinking, searching for the right combinations, and even the methodical process it requires to put cards together. 

This year, I combined four of my photos. One from our pines, and three of our horses. If you click to view larger, you will notice the horses & pines are interrelated. As everything in this world is, to a certain extent...

front cover

inside sentiment

Thank you, for being a part of this blog ~ it means a lot to share each others joys & even sorrows. You are appreciated more then you know!! Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Healthy Magical New Year!


there is good in the world

Sharing some good in the world, for those of you who may not have seen the video below.

Good luck keeping a dry eye.


build-a-barn ~ Fall update

Our barn sat dormant for weeks at a time during the Fall. Everyone's intense focus was catching up on our house. We lucked out and had an unseasonable warm Fall!! Just like the barn, building progressed in layers. Scheduling is tricky and takes insight to be done smoothly. Whenever someone had a lull, barn work got done.

It's been so long since I've done a barn update, I had to go back and check where I left off. It was early October, and we had just poured the wood plank porch...

front porch drying

Brad marking the ceiling spots for our two barn fans
Our son (Colten) helped Brad get the fan stems mounted
by setting a secure block via the crawl space.
It had to be done before the barn ceiling can be insulated,
which remains on the to-do list.

Mid November a concrete approach was poured at a slight incline,
butting up to the stamped concrete porch.
Looks kinda goofy, but will blend the driveway into the barn for easier loaded etc.
side view

Brad built out (furrowed) the bottom of the porch columns, to prep for stone. We are using the same stone as the front of our house, and the columns look similar. It will help tie them together. Finishing the exposed porch truss also remains on the low priority to-do list.

Both Brad & Colten put in multiple days over several weekends moving dirt & sand, around both the barn and house. Of course Brad puts in double the time everyone else does, but I love that our son wants to help. What a difference their hard work makes!!

View from the barn porch to the future horse shelter, and pastures.
Which still need fencing, also on the to-do list.
Notice a common theme, lol!
 The auto water will connect to the black tube in the middle.
view from the other side
the last not so little pile of dirt
It was a huge job to spread the many piles, and even out the land using small equipment. Our son really wanted us to do it, instead of hiring out. There were sooo many large mounds everywhere! I throughly enjoyed climbing & shooting photos from them while we had our mini-mountains, however everything looks much nicer without them!! 

Colten framed the back wall of the saloon
to make it easier for wiring 
my guys got half the saloon ceiling done, last weekend (iphone) 
Brad is almost done with the wash stall. Just a little trimming left.
Almost ready to hook the water up! 

Our electricians have been working on/off wiring the barn.
 They installed some of our waterproof LED ceiling lights!
We can hose those baby's down, and the risk of fire is much less.

Thankfully only a couple side wall lights were mounted (see wash stall photo) to see how we like them, and if we needed to add more then planned. They are so bright you gotta wear shades! The couple lights that are mounted on the wall, will get moved to the ceiling.
I was worried about remaining holes, but I guess they plug them and it isn't noticeable.

Now that I am close to being done with picking out stuff for the house (thank god, what a pain in the a$$ that has been) I can get back to the barn! No clue why the barn feels fun, and the house feels like a pain. I need to pick out the barn bathroom vanity & lights. Something rustic, simple and self standing. They are all so expensive!! It might just cost less to have one built. Haven't found the right one, still searching. 

We are now officially up to date with posts!! I have no grand tie-in ending photo, so I'll just end with a recent view from the back of our barn. Our baby albino twin (other twin is brown) is growing fast!

Three Shades of Deer


horseless trips

A not so short catch up post, on our much needed Fall trips...

Instead of driving all over in search of beauty, we opted to stay close to where we were staying on both trips. Sooo much beauty to be found nearby, if you look with open eyes. We did bring house building related "homework" but didn't let it get in the way of our purpose. To relax & take in nature, and on the second trip also learn.

On our first trip we reconnected with our northern establishment friends, and laughed. A lot. It had been 365 days since we had a chance to escape from our overflowing to-do list, and yet they all remember us. Not all know us by name, but they do know us by face and what brings us north. Horses & snowmobiles. We normally travel up there 4-5X a year. However between the weird winter, horse & human injuries, and now the building fiasco, we just haven't managed to get away. 

Some people have a hard time figuring out why we often return to the same vacation places year after year. I do love new experiences & exploring sights, but I love reconnecting more. It's familiar. When one of our northern friends came running over in the middle of customer craziness & to give us each a heartfelt goodbye hug - well, that makes getting away more meaningful. This couple does know us by name, and we consider them friends. Read about the last time we saw them, well one of them. We didn't know if we would ever see them together again. The end of that story is happy, she made it :) 

There are things we can do when we are horse-less, like exploring the rapids. I have a short video with beautiful sights & sounds of mother natures crazy power, but for some strange reason it won't upload. I know you've all seen and heard rapids, but they never get old to me.

I could watch water move & listen to the sound,
for hours and hours 

our best twosie
The others are too damn funny 
We also did some things that we do when the horses are with us, but it becomes an entirely different experience with out them. Hiking trails we typically ride, gave me a whole new respect for Koda and trail riding in general. Let's just say I was sucking wind on the inclines.

You may recall WI had waaay too much rain over summer, and all the state & county trails were closed for a couple weeks. We were stunned to find several sections of trail rutted out so bad, that had we been on horseback we would have turned around and not ridden up to the lookout. It's my favorite trail ride. The sad part with remote public trails, is there is no funding or manpower to repair them. Maybe someday?

heading up to the lookout
it appears like you could ride up along the side,
but it was pretty steep with no where to go

It's always a welcome sight, when the climb levels off and opens up. You can catch your breath, while in turn it takes your breath away...

the beginning of the rocky lookout
is on the path to the right
I've always wondered what was beyond
and below the top flat area of the lookout

I heard a lot of "where are you going" and "be careful"
(see Brad?) eventually, there is a drop off
view to the north, from a lower portion of the lookout
colorful trees are as far as the eye can see
the reward is always worth the hike up
I wasn't going to share the above photo, because apparently my spare tire didn't deflate! But what the hell, it's us.
Note to self: press the timer, run, AND suck gut in!!
Late Fall we took a second trip to a weekend photography gathering. It brings like minded people together to learn more about shooting the Northern Lights, and other night shooting. I've been obsessed with Northern Lights since I first saw them when I was 15. Story for another time. Brad doesn't have much interest in learning about the night sky, but he really enjoys the area. Lake Superior is a phenomenon in it's own right. Powerful and beautiful, all at the same time. 

It's become an annual vacation for us. See, we do expand our horizons! This was our second year. Conditions were not right for viewing the Aurora Borealis. Last year we saw the lights as a group on the shore. The Duluth area got hit with an early storm, so we hunkered down and stayed put. SO thankful we arrived a day early. We enjoyed other amazing sights during our stay this year, it's not all about the Northern Lights.

View from our room, the day after the storm:

We snuck out for a short drive during a break between the learning sessions, also taken during the calm after the storm:

Since the Aurora Borealis didn't want to come out & dance, we took it upon ourselves to see some different kind of lights at night at the nearby waterfalls. Brad assisted the wool spinner.

I soooo LOVE the North Shore area, and can't wait to go back!! It's as close to an ocean as I'm going to get, at least for a while. 

If you've read this far, I am totally impressed! Next up, a barn update.