The Cottage

The Cottage | Sophster-Toaster

I feel extremely lucky to be a part of the our family cottage’s story, especially as I’m a newcomer. The cottage was built, by hand, by my husband’s great grandparents in the 1950’s. The lake didn’t have electrical service yet, so they built everything to run on propane. The stove was replaced with a newer gas range around the early 80’s, the fridge was swapped out for an electric model in the 90’s and, although the original gas lamps still remain strategically placed in the main rooms, we use the regular lights now. The water heater also arrived with the electricity, and completion of a mudroom/shower room, so there’s no more boiling water for bathing or washing dishes. The mini water tower system has been replaced with a water pump and filter in my husband’s lifetime. There was never a telephone or any other modern way to communicate with people outside the cottage but that has changed very recently with the placement of a nearby cell tower. However, even with all these upgrades, the materials used to build the cottage and the items furnishing it have remained largely unchanged as the cottage was left, in trust, to my mother-in-law until my husband’s generation of the family was able to take it over and become the next caretaker(s).

The Cottage | Sophster-Toaster

This means the floors, windows, cupboards, hutches, board games, and much of the cookware and utensils and the like are straight out of the 50’s. Some things even date back to the 30’s since my husband’s great grandparents didn’t furnish their rustic hobby cottage with new things, but brought their older items from home. Now that my husband has decided he would like to be the one to take up the torch of maintaining the cottage for his generation, we’ve spent our last few summer vacations up there cleaning and making sure the thing doesn’t fall down before we can complete the process of ending the trust and negotiating the price of purchase from any parties who want out. It seems every time I’m up there, I find some new, amazing relic that was tossed into a drawer, cupboard or shed that unlocks another piece of the cottage’s unique history.

The Cottage | Sophster-Toaster

As we make plans to rebuild and restore the cottage, we always make sure to come back to the original designs and intentions of past generations to ensure we are doing things correctly and with respect. We intend to preserve as much as possible while making necessary upgrades (hello insulation and bathroom with a toilet). Ironically, it’s looking like me might actually roll back on some of the progress, like the electrical upgrade – that may come and go in my husband’s lifetime – with a switch to solar in an effort to be more eco-friendly. Any changes we need to make will be done with mid-century styles and ideals in mind to preserve the history of the place both sentimentally for the family and visually for friends, renters and other newcomers. It feels like we’re the right people for the job.

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Shirt H&M
Bikini Top Aerie (same cut, different colour)
Shorts ModCloth
Sunglasses ModCloth

All photos by me.

Crop Top Confidence

Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster

I’ve always wanted to be a crop top person. I’ve admired the look, and the confidence it takes to pull it off, from the last time they were popular, through now. I’ve always had an urge to tug and tie my t-shirts and button ups at my waist to get a better fit for my short torso but consistently chicken out between checking my outfit in the mirror and leaving my bedroom for the day. I end up tucking my shirt in and having it billow out and fit poorly all day instead. It’s not a lack of confidence in my body that makes me untie my shirt and tuck it into my skirt, I think it’s more a lack of confidence in my style.

Then I noticed, while working my booth at local markets, just how many women – of all sizes and ages – were rocking crop tops this year, how great they all looked and how envious I felt of them. I decided this was the year I would trust myself and my style and start wearing cropped and tied up tops whenever I felt like it. Admittedly, there is a bit of a body confidence hurdle to overcome, especially when summer tan lines make me feel like I’m wearing a big sign that shouts, “hey! this is weird for me,” but the feeling that my clothes fit properly and knowing I’m brave enough to do something that makes me nervous, in public no less, ends up actually boosting my confidence in the end.

Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster Crop Top Confidence | Sophster-Toaster

T-shirt Craft Arts Market
Skirt so old and altered, I actually can’t remember
Shoes ModCloth
Camera Bag Amazon
Earrings Claire’s

All photos by me and Matt Harrison.

Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks | Sophster-Toaster

Pepper has loved water since she was a little puppy having “pool parties” in her water bowl. She loves chasing waves, splashing in puddles and running through sprinklers so we were very excited to take her up to the cottage and play in the lake. She liked putting her paws in the water and playing on the large rocks that stretch out into the lake, just under the water’s surface, but she only only properly swam once and didn’t seem to like the way her thick fur weighed her down. We decided to let her find swimming in her own time and accepted that, although she loves playing in shallow water, she may never like swimming.

Swimming with Sharks | Sophster-Toaster

Since coming home from our weekend jaunt to the cottage, we’ve passed our steamy summer days walking along familiar rivers and taking evening trips to the beach. Pepper dips her legs in the river to cool down and enjoys running down the beach in the shallow water after a long, hot day. During one of our recent trips to the beach, she surprised us and confidently left the shallow shoreline to take a short swim with us as we waded out into the water; maybe her shark fin gave her courage. The next time we returned to the beach, she met another Australian Shepherd and paddled around with him for a little bit while his owner told us that he didn’t like swimming at first either. She dashed in and out of the water, swimming, herding the waves and shaking out the whole time we were there, like it was nothing.

Swimming with Sharks | Sophster-Toaster

The lake at the cottage is a little different because there isn’t really anywhere you can ease in, you just have to jump, so I’m not sure she’ll get in this time either, but I’m so excited to see if she’ll swim while we’re up there again for our summer vacation.

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Bathing Suit ModCloth
Skirt Steady Clothing
Sunglasses ModCloth

Pepper’s Shark Fin Labrashark

All photos by me and Matt Harrison.

Always Sunny

Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster

We were recently up at the cottage with some of the best weather I’ve ever seen there. I’ve been going up to my husband’s family cottage for almost a decade now and this was the first time we’ve been up during a summer heat wave and not for the cold and rainy spell right before or after. The weather was hot, sunny and gorgeous everyday but one out of the trip, making this regular, water-based ink version of my Hello Sunshine Tee the perfect thing to wear as we lounged by the lake.

Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster

Top Sophster-Toaster
Shorts ModCloth
Sunglasses ModCloth
Shoes Old Navy

Always Sunny | Sophster-Toaster

All photos by Matt Harrison.