Star Hill Send Off

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This past Saturday we gave Star Hill a proper send off.  There won’t be tons of pictures because I was pretty busy with our guests but we had a crowd.  There was corn hole to play, horse shoes to throw,  catfish to fry, stories to tell, and time to remember.  

It just seemed natural that we should throw one last party for friends to enjoy this place we have loved and where have welcomed family, friends and adventure.  

The weather was too windy to get the boat out, but the rain held off.  We had friends that visited for the first time, those who have visited many times, old friends, new friends, and even the soon to be owner.  Yep.  The guy who is buying our home showed up, hung out, brought his dog, daughter, and girlfriend.  True story.  He is going to love the place and has plans for what Star Hill is going to look like when he is through with her. 


 We are blessed.  The sale of our lake house has been quick, if not eventful, up to this point.  We had someone drive up today who wanted to make an offer on the home if you can believe it.  He insisted we take his number in case the sale falls through.  

      It is our prayer that our new, unnamed place is a destination for family, friends, and others who need a place to rest, relax, laugh, and unplug.  We are getting excited about the opportunity to share our home and are purposefully trying to figure out a way for more company to stay overnight.  There is a guest house, potentially we are going to have two bunk rooms, and my dream is to convert the barn into a gathering place.

Today we got busy packing.  Four truck loads of stuff was taken to storage. 

By the way, the secret to Mr. Math’s amazing catfish… Yellow mustard in the batter. 

I hope your weekend was restful.  Come see us if you are in the area.




Pallet Buffet Table


We have a great back deck at Star Hill, our near the lake house.  It is a great place to have friends over and is our main hang out area in the spring.


In order to serve food on the back deck we have used card tables, folding tables, and even tv trays.  We are getting ready to paint the deck with a wood restore product and got everything power washed.  While waiting for the deck to dry out and the temperature to rise enough that we can apply the paint we built a buffet for serving food and drinks. We also have this ugly pipe that bugs me.  The buffet is going to mask the ugliness.


My friend Mary, from SJ Ranch offered me some pallets last week.  These pallets are what the cattle feed comes on and they were stacked in the barn.  I love being given materials to use.  I honestly did not expect to get pallets out in the country.

Full disclosure here. I did not think this up, the idea came from this site:

Do It Yourself

Why yes, I did notice it was mostly not in English and yes I noticed that there were no instructions.   That is what I have Mr. Math for.  He is the best at figuring out what I want when I can’t explain it very well.  We did have the picture to look at:

buffet table

We studied the photo then… as usual, we modified it to make it work for us. I love the look, the durability and the functionality for a back deck that is exposed to the elements.

We laid out the pavers then started figuring out the dimensions.


The three pallets we got were not uniform in size.  We found two that were less than an inch apart in height and about an inch different in width.  Mr. Math cut the larger down to the size of the smaller one. ( Honestly I think I would have just made them work together but it would have driven him crazy.)  Once we looked at the pallets, we decided that the best way to place them for our deck was with the slats going vertically instead of horizontally like in the picture above.  The buffet is 40 inches tall and 47 inches wide.  We used deck boards that were too rough to keep on the deck to wrap around the top and bottom of the pallets.



buffet without tiles

The deck boards added some stability to the structure and gave it additional weight.  Once the deck is painted, we will be putting a few screws through the bottom into the deck just to make sure that it never falls over on anyone.  There may have been some rough housing from time to time at our house  If I were going to be putting the buffet on the ground I would put some sort of stake into the ground just to make sure it stays upright.

I plan on staining the narrow boards and painting the deck boards once we get the deck finished.  A good coat of marine varnish will help it to last.

Here it is finished except the painting.

IMG_0461 IMG_0460 IMG_0459 IMG_0457


This is going to be a welcome addition to our deck.


Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.  If you are new to my blog, welcome.  If you are an old friend, thank you for hanging in there with me.



Making a Corn Hole Set

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One sweet memory I have from The Southern Belle and Big Cat’s wedding last summer was an outdoor family gathering where we got to meet the families. Big Cat set up his corn hole set to play. Lots of folks got in on the action, even my sweet mom, Me Mie. Ever since then I have wanted a set to use at our lake house, at school and for neighborhood parties in the burbs. Corn hole is a little like horse shoes except it is played on a slanting 2 foot wide, four foot long plywood surface. There is even a corn hole association! Because I am working crazy hours this summer, but I wanted the set ready for our 4th of July family reunion, I charged Hubby with researching the rules, board dimensions, and DIY instructions. He is a math teacher in real life so dimensions, diameters, and angles are right up his alley.

As the 4th of July approached, I started to gently remind nudge nag him to get on it. He bought the wood. Pre-cut 2 X 4 sheet of a/b sanded wood so it would be smooth and 2 2X4’s. It hung out in the back of his truck. The nagging increased. The weekend before the 4th- with company at the lake house- arrived. He promised he could have them built in 30 minutes. So the timer started! In reality it was closer to an hour but still assembly was quick. The hole is 6″ centered 9″ from top edge. The legs are cut to length so that the top edge is 12″ from the ground.  He attached the legs with a bolt so that it can be loosened and the legs stored under the board.

Once he finished I jumped on the painting. It had to be red, white and blue… because pretty much everything at our lake house is red, white, and blue. The creamy white is the paint we used for our rockers and swing. No clue what the color is, but the paint was hanging out in the Garagemahal. The blue is Behr Sailboat blue. It has been used on out coffee tablethe beverage station, and Sweet Amanda’s chair at our chair party. I had to buy the red. I am not going to tell you the color because I made a bad choice with the red. I hate Glidden paint. More on that later. Once it was all painted the creamy white and dried overnight, I taped off stripes. Mr. Math helped me figure out the width of the big stripe then after he left, I very unscientifically taped off a thinner stripe the width of the skinny tape. The trick to painting clean lines is fresh tape ( don’t try to use tape that has hung out in the garage a year getting all hot and cold) and paint the base coat color over the edges of the tape. The paint seals the edges and any that seeps under is the same as base so you can’t tell. The Glidden paint was so thin it still bled in two spots. Not. A. Fan.

blue corn hole set



corn hole set up

red and blue corn hole set

corn hole legs

I stitched eight bags. Four blue and four red, six inches each and filled with corn. They will have to be upgraded to a tougher fabric, but they will work for now.

corn hole bags

We are still working on the mechanism to attach the two boards to store and carry.  The handles worked well, but the latches did not work.

using a latch

connected for travel

handle and latch

corn hole handles


The boards turned out well and they will be used at events for years to come.

playing corn hole

corn hole boards

We are not the only ones camping with a set. I thought I would share a few others who were camping near our family reunion:

corn hole nfl

A UT set with football shaped corn bags.

corn hole easy

This is a really easy set to fold and the little guys loved it.

corn hole camping

You have to look carefully at this camp site to see them.  They are located on either side of the smoker.

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. Blessings, Karen

Project Update


Hello, Friends! I hope you don’t mind, but I am going to be mashing a bunch of projects and finds into one pile so you can see what I have done recently, and what I have hanging out in the garage waiting for love. I am really getting anxious to get started using my cedar that has been patiently drying, get started on my bathroom, and get Star Hill, our sweet little near the lake house updated a tad. I just told you all that so you know it is my plan to burn through some projects that are hanging out, taking up space and bugging me. I also have some work for others that I am trying hard to get finished.

Sooo… here goes:

In the hanging out bugging me category

  • China Cabinet- I am going to paint this a very light gray with a patterned back wall.

1960's china cabinet

  • 50% complete Headboard/ Footboard Bench. It is going to be a stunner with storage.

Headboard for storage bench

  • 3 count them 3 tables that need to be finished.  1 of them is going to become a farmhouse table with reclaimed wood on top and is sold.  It is still not done.  All will be beautiful… if I can just get rolling and get them done.

farmhouse table

  • 4 projects for people.   1 is a bench out of their childhood twin bed, 1 a media center, 1 a mid century modern dresser that will complete the bedroom set I am working on and 1 a china cabinet.

navy blue china cabinet
This is my inspiration for the china cabinet. It is going to be a dark blue.
madigan made


  • red media center

Here is the inspiration for the media center. The piece I am painting is even prettier.


I hope you can see from the phone photo the detail in this buffet.

  • mid century modern painted dresser

The dresser I will be paint in looks a lot like this one, or at least it will once painted.

Here is the dresser I will be painting.

  • In the house project category
  • Our bathroom needs to be done.  Board and Batten walls, electrical work done, dresser painted to look like restoration hardware furniture, mirror down, pair of mirrors hung, and tile work.  Not too much huh?  Here is the blog I wrote about our plans.  Bathroom Pinnsperation
  • At Star Hill I want one wall in the den to be covered with corrugated tin roofing from my husband’s family barn.  We need to install a new wood burning stove and hang a raw cedar shelf on that wall. I also want to paint the bedroom and make curtains.  No small feat for this non-sewer.  Here is the bedroom in the unfinished state. Bedroom

Once we are done, I get to start building with the beautiful cedar. It shouldn’t take long, right? Hurry summer so Hubby has the time off.

Using a Paint Sprayer


After trying three different types of paint sprayers to paint furniture, and hating them, we have finally found one that works for us. The fourth time is the charm. We like a gravity feed sprayer that runs off an air compressor. The brand we use is Husky- not a fancy name bran- and it was inexpensive. Like less than $60.00. It works like a charm and we get a smooth finish with minimal drips. I can use it, except it makes me nervous to connect it to the compressor. Once I master that I will be good on my own. Learning to use a sprayer was not without a few errors and a learning curve. We learned that the paint needs to be thinned a little to make it flow evenly out of the sprayer and that made a difference.

taping for spray painting



Here are a few things we have learned as we have improved in our sprayer

Buy good paint. It is tempting to try cheaper paint since it has to be thinned. Don’t do it, friends. I still use Behr Paint with primer when spraying.

Use paint conditioner to thin the paint. We have used water in a pinch but I can tell the difference.
paint conditioner

Get paint filters and strain your paint. You even need to strain brand new paint but you REALLY need to strain paint you have sitting on your shelf. They cost about $1.00 for five so it is a cheap investment.
paint strainers

Hold the sprayer 6 to 8 inches from the surface you are painting and keep the sprayer moving while the trigger is pulled. Release the sprayer trigger when you change directions.

Use a board or cardboard to test your sprayer before using it on what you are spraying, even if all you do is refill the paint into the can. The settings can move and could affect how much paint is coming out.

Cleaning the sprayer is a pain in the neck, but it has to be cleaned to spotless every time it is used.
Take it all the way apart to clean it. Here it is all taken apart.


Plan on using at least 25% more paint than you would brushing it on. We underestimate a lot with the sprayer. I am not sure why it takes more paint, but it just does.

You may see a dimpled appearance when the paint is wet. Don’t panic. Don’t try to brush it out. Leave it alone. Once it is dry it will be smooth. Be patient. This is what it looks like right after painting. I promise this look goes away.

Hubby’s favorite thing to use the sprayer for is polyurethane. We only use water based poly because of cleaning but wow, what a beautiful finish. Poly is thin and does not need conditioner.

I still like a hand brushed look on some items, but I will never hand paint a chair or table legs again now that we have discovered the paint sprayer.


Beadboard Bed Makeover


It will be about a week before I can photograph the bed in the room it is in now but I wanted to show what a little paint and glaze does to a so so bed and night stand.

I spotted this beauty on Craig’s List for $100.00.  It was a whole bedroom set; a twin bed, under the bed drawer (that converts to a trundle bed holder I found out.) a night stand, and a dresser.  Because I am using only the nightstand and bed frame to stage a navy blue bedroom for a friend, the dresser and under the bed drawer are not painted.

The white spot is some sort of wood filler that made a mess on the drawer.




When we showed up, in the rain, to pick up this set the owners were packing to move.  It was in good shape considering it has been in a tween girl’s room.  There were a few One Direction stickers, and some nail polish spills, but man I have seen worse.

Because the room I helped stage is navy blue, I chose Behr Gray Area.  It is a medium to light gray that has just a touch of blue.

gray area

Hubby was busy spraying a ton of stuff Sea Salt, so I used the brush to paint the bed and night stand.  I really sort of wanted the 2006 furniture to look like it had a bit of history.

Parts of the furniture were made of wood, but other parts were painted particle board and plywood.  I did not want to take a chance on the paint not sticking so I gave it coat of liquid sander then my go-to primer for this type project, Gripper Primer by Glidden.  This primer is thick, sticky, and hard to paint with but it is advertised to use on glass.


After the primer dried I got busy painting.  It took two coats to get it smooth and looking great.

I mixed up Behr Faux Effects Glaze ( 2 Cups) with Behr Black Suede (1 full tablespoon).  I glazed like crazy by putting it on with my $1.00 brush and white t rub it in.


Here is the finished project before at Star Hill before we took it to my friend’s home.  As soon as the the touch up paint in the bedroom is done I will post the pictures of the room.  This room will prove it is possible to have a dark blue bedroom that doesn’t feel dark and dreary.



The last step made me remember how much I love our sprayer. Hubby sprayed the polyurethane on the whole thing in about 10 minutes. He did fall in a hole and scare me to death though so I am totally blaming him for not having any more pictures. He is fine. We just need a new part for the sprayer.

So friends, what do you think about the gray bed?  There will be photos of the two pieces soon. They will be for sale as soon as my friend’s home sells along with rest of the furniture in the set.  I am waiting to find out what color to paint the dresser.

If You Can’t Commit Don’t Get A Pet


I got the following message from my lake house neighbor Thursday night: “ FYI, you and Hubby have a new dog. A white spotted one that has been living on your porch since at least Mon. He has a routine of spending part of the afternoon in your side yard in the sun, but early mornings and evening, he camps inside the fence and bays. Yes, bays, he’s loud and I’m sure nothing has been able to get anywhere near your property since he arrived.
Translation: Someone dumped a poor defenseless dog at your empty home. In winter. With it expected to snow and the temperature to be below freezing for several days. No food. No water.
I do not know the dog dumper but I will go on record saying I do not like this person. When we arrived Friday afternoon with snow on the ground and temperatures in the 20’s there was a shivering, hungry scared 30 pound mostly grown puppy on our porch.
snow on the ground
There was snow on the ground

snow on the steps

paw prints in the snow
When we got to the house we could not see the dog, but the footprints were in the snow on the porch.

dog dumped
By the time we unloaded the truck she showed up.

We spent the morning Saturday trying to find a no kill shelter. We have a 15-year-old Pomeranian who has congestive heart failure and other issues. We also have an 11-year-old cat who hates every dog on the planet. We learned after talking to three shelters in the county that they were all full. We spent the weekend trying to figure it all out. She is a sweet-natured dog who has definitely lived with a family. You can see where a collar once was around her neck. She knows how to sit, can play fetch, can ride in the truck without problems,responds to basic commands- as well as any 8 or 9 month old will. In short, she wrapped herself around our hearts. I have an idea that she was a super cute little puppy who grew, jumped, chewed, and had more energy than the owners wanted to deal with. Puppies this big do those things a lot.

People, please make sure you can deal with a dog before you get one. Before you bring that little puppy home make sure you have the time, patience, and finances to take on the responsibility. Ask questions,

We are not sure how it is going to work, but we are willing to give the girl a home if she can tolerate the backyard in the suburbs. Thankfully we have patient neighbors who have already met her. A “Hubby made” dog house is in our near future, there is a trip to the groomer, and vet next week and I think we now will not have an excuse to miss our walks. We are not going to be the only one needing our exercise. We will be spending a lot of time working on her barking. She definitely has some bird dog in her and sounds like she is on the hunt when she gets excited.


Update:  We named the sweet girl Lumi, which means snow in Finnish.  She is a total house dog and has taken to crate training like a champ.  She went to the vet where they agreed she is between 8 and 10 months old, so not fully grown.  She loves to play fetch and will go after her tennis ball until she just about cannot walk.  She has learned to drop it at my feet and knows where we keep the ball.  I left one tennis ball where she could reach it and found it in about 20 pieces on the floor.   If I ask her if she wants to go outside, she runs to where the ball is and waits.  The rest of the creatures at our house are getting accustomed to her…slowly.

lumi tennis ball
The tennis ball. Or should I say the former tennis ball.
Chew sticks make it about 2 hours at our house.

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