Day 527: Spring preparations and possibility

Let the spring cleaning begin! We were blessed with a mild and relatively short winter, which has enabled us to get inside the guestrooms and to get our outdoor projects and grounds work started early. Over the next few weeks, we will be tackling the problem fountain garden, aka The Reflection Zone, in between Buildings One and Two. As soon as it’s consistently warm enough, we’ll be moving around the north corner and to the rest of Building One with exterior paint and trim. Then it’s over to Building Two for more of the same treatment. We’ll also be putting a fresh coat of paint on all the doors. I can’t wait to see how the whole place looks once the paint job is complete.

Our newest project for this spring is a light lobby makeover.  Shane and Lexi spent last Sunday stripping wallpaper. Dave has a bit of skim coating and sanding to do to the drywall before we proceed with paint. Shane and Lexi are steering the color choices for this area. We’ll keep most or all of the existing elements and use a fresh color palette to give the room a “vintage modern cottage” feel.

Sarah and Lexi are also helping me clean, de-clutter, and organize.  “One room at a time,” as Sarah says, and it will all get done. They keep me focused and semi-sane while working their butts off and singing and making me laugh until my stomach hurts. They are as invested and enthused as I am, and their positive energy is contagious. I’ve probably said it before, but it bears repeating: Getting to work on this project with my favorite people is my life-long dream coming true. It is the journey, as they say, that matters, and I am already having the best time ever.

Funny how life is; the best time ever is also the hardest time ever financially. Dave has taken full-time work with our builder friends to help keep us afloat. I’m doing what I can from home to keep the project and business moving forward.  I try hard not to let money worries distract me from the tasks of reopening rooms and “filling beds,” as they say in the biz. Thankfully, there are tons of free but powerful communication tools available online: WordPress, Instagram,  Facebook, Twitter, Google, TripAdvisor, and of course, GoFundMe.  Social media enables us to reach out and connect with people in a way never before possible, and at virtually no cost. It appears to be working, because we’re getting more reservations every week.

We still need all the help we can get. Please consider choosing the Atwood Inn for your next vacation, family reunion, golf outing, or out-of-town wedding guests. We are offering incentives through GoFundMe for pre-paid bookings and an extra special deal for the full house for two nights. Kindly share the Motel Possible and Atwood Inn pages to your network of friends and family. And keep on pulling for us and sending so much good will our way. Every bit helps, and we appreciate it more than we can say.

Cheers to spring!

DIY Sign Making Part Two: The Billboard


imageToday’s challenge: to scale up the Atwood Inn logo to fit on the 8′ x 16′ road sign. Our budget: the usual $0.

imageMaterials: plastic baggies, tape, hair tie and rubber band, scissors, Sharpie, recycled cardboard, duct tape. All stuff we had around the house.

imageI printed 6″ letters on paper using Publisher and WordArt. We cut up the plastic bags, taped the letters underneath them and traced the outlines with Sharpies. (hint: I printed 2 1/2 letters on every second sheet so we could use the overlap to align and space the letters correctly.)

wpid-20150929_203932.jpgMeanwhile, Dave cut up a box and taped the seams to make the projector.

imageHe cut a 7″ x 7″ window on one end to lay the transparencies over.

imageHe cut a much smaller opening at the opposite end. He and Lexi devised a phone mount using a hair tie and bobby pins. He then switched on the flashlight app and tested it by projecting the first two letters on the living room wall. It worked!

imageWith the projector mounted onto an extendable pole, we took a pack walk outside to see if we could project the letters directly onto the billboard without going through the stencil making step.

imageWe determined that while we could direct it at the billboard, that method would require waiting until dark for the image to be visible enough to trace. We didn’t want to wait that long to start the actual painting, so back inside we went.

imageDave cut a 12′ long strip from a large cardboard box. We snapped parallel chalk lines 24 inches apart, then straddled a ladder over it. Dave laid the projector over the ladder hinges, which provided the perfect distance for magnifying the letters to size.

imageWe traced the outlines onto the long piece of cardboard, scooching the board to the left as we switched from one transparency to the next.

This part didn’t take long, but cutting out the letters took a little doing. Dave’s razor knife helped, but an X-acto knife or rotary cutter would have been handy here. Serrated kitchen knives worked OK, too.

imageWe separated “ATWOOD” from “INN” and headed back outside with our giant cardboard stencils.

imageDave mounted the stencils onto the billboard with small screws.

image Dave did all the ladder work. I just kept him company.

image imageOnce he had the letters traced, he began painting them in.

image Almost there…

It was near dark and getting cold, but he made it!

imageNext, it’s over to the North side to do it again. Then we’ll add the lamp post and additional wording.

We try to do at least one thing to move the project forward every day, and for the most part, it’s working. The property really appears to be shaping up, and we’ve been getting great responses from our guests and our neighbors. When it feels particularly slow going or I start to worry about money, I remind myself how far we’ve come on so little, and in such a short time. Before & After pics help.

Did you know that Eva Mann made the original “MOTEL” and “Office” signs out of styrofoam she chiseled herself? 35 years later, those signs are still hanging. All we need to do is replace one “f” and apply fresh paint and they’ll be good as new.

Perhaps someday we’ll be able to afford vinyl letters and other luxuries. Until then, here’s to Making Do like it’s 1979.

The Atwood Inn Sign Project

Do-it-yourself sign making with Three Hills and friends.

Tricia Bowden and her friend, Philly**  brought our vision to life with this awesome Whistle Up The Bay inspired design and color palette. Our challenge was to scale it up to a 4′ x 8′ sign with zero budget or sign making experience.

**Phil Detloff is his real name, and he’s a real graphic artist. We are thrilled with the designs he created for us and highly recommend him. LOVE it!

DIY sign painting
Lexi, Dave, & Shane did a bit of strategizing and practicing with the old sign. Lexi is saying, “Let’s use a grid system,” and Dave is saying, “I can free-hand that s**t.”
Atwood Inn sign creation
Father and daughter snapping chalk lines.
sky blue
Mmmm…. pretty blue paint.



Our beautiful daughter and sign painter.
Meanwhile, Dave cut down the cross beam, but kept the side posts and existing sign frame.
Pretty as a picture.
Our neighbor, Chuck, donated a ballast to get the whole No Vacancy sign working properly.
Lexi painted happy little trees.
The first layer of paint took a few days to dry.
Therese painstakingly and meticulously traced and spaced my homemade paper letter stencils and Dave painted them in.
Therese came back yesterday to help me paint walls in three rooms, and then helped Dave put the sign in the frame while I stood around taking pictures.



Finished with this part for the day. Passersby were honking and giving Dave the “Thumbs Up.”
Dave had band practice, so I spent part of the evening making the lamp post stencil. I traced the outline from the logo with Photoshop Elements, saved it as an eps file, then enlarged and printed it as a banner in Publisher. Perhaps not the most elegant way to have done it, but it worked.
Dave applied the paper stencil to the sign this morning.
Traced around the stencil with pencil.
Then he filled it in with white paint.
He’s a lefty.
He has a good eye and a steady hand.


Cleaning up the job site.
And Voila! Welcome to the Atwood Inn!