Deck Days

Hello, it’s been awhile. Sadly when I disappear from the blog for weeks, it makes it that much harder to come back. You see, life keeps going and all sorts of things happen, so I’m no longer searching for something to say, I’m trying to narrow down the possibilities.

Do you want to see the garden or hummingbird fights? The orchard or views of snow-topped peaks? Weekend trips, faux-stucco repair, or the latest on the remodel? See what I mean?

Let’s forget all that for now and enjoy a little time on the deck. With beautiful views of the valley, it’s where you’ll find us afternoons most clear days. Even in the middle of winter with our heavy coats, hand-knit hats, and the help of the heater, you’ll find us outside.

A few years back, I bought a pair of rattan lounge chairs. We’ve replaced the seat cushions a few times, and they’ve been the perfect place to watch sunsets and enjoy a glass of wine just the two of us.

But what happens when Baby Girl or Sweet Miss are home? Or when friends or family are visiting? Suddenly we’re moving the heavy metal swivel chairs from the deck table that we keep meaning to replace from side to side trying to forge conversation areas in the shade when it’s extra hot moving to the western side as the day cools.

The deck wraps around the whole first floor from our room to the laundry room. So as you can guess, we’ve been looking for chairs, furniture, tables, something to help with the situation. The MR wanted comfort, and I wanted mobility. While the deck is ginormous, it’s only 88 inches deep in most places. Oversized comfy furniture is just too wide to easily navigate around.

The MR found a double set on Overstock a few weeks back, and this may be the answer.

First, as with everything, it came at a price. Two nice fellows came in a very big truck to deliver two pallets of parts.

The MR was out, but we had the perfect spot for them in the garage. It only took him three hours to unwrap all the pieces.

The next day, while I was teaching Sunday school, he put together the first chair.

From there, it just got easier and easier—sort of. It’s teak furniture that requires a sealer after a few days out in the elements. I left for a three-hour shift at the yarn shop, while he was brushing sealer on one chair. He’d just finished its twin and taken a shower when I arrived home nearly four hours later. Sometimes it’s nice to have a job.

So now we have a shady side seating set and a sunny side seating set plus a few rattan chairs to bring into the mix.

Adding a rug helps bring the set together. With brown-on-brown, I think a few accent pillows are necessary. I found some at Target for $15 and some at Molbak’s for $35, but I wasn’t that excited about any of them, so I’m still looking. A few accessories, and our new furniture will be wonderful.

We also need to trim back the Japanese variegated willow that’s encroaching on the deck and sweep up the cottonwood that’s everywhere. Add some live plants, candles, knickknacks, can’t you just imagine?

I’ll let you in on a secret, I filled the hummingbird feeder, and this is the perfect spot to watch hummingbird wars and commune with nature.

Come by some morning, and we can drink some coffee and marvel at the feisty little birds.

How are you preparing for sunny weather? Any great places for outdoor gewgaws, brick-a-brac, knickknacks, you know what I mean?

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Wishing for Sun

With sun, rain, snow , and wind in the forecast for the last few days, we haven’t had much use for these beauties.

At least it was sunny on the day they arrived. Eventually, they’ll find their way down to the lower deck along with some comfy cushions.

After removing the hot tub last year, we’ve been planning to turn the lower portion into a sun deck. The outdoor shower will get a facelift and be a dog washing station for Cocoa. With lots of mud and meadows to explore, she definitely needs it.

We’ve been looking for new outdoor dining and seating options. For the upper deck, too.

Along with comfort and style, portability is an important feature. With a huge wraparound deck that soaks up the heat, we’ve found ourselves moving to shade quite often. Our current metal chairs that rock and swivel weigh a ton.

We purchased the lounges from Frontgate—on sale back in February. That’s one nice thing about buying outdoor furniture early in the season, you can usually find a sale, and you get to dream of sun, and barbecues, and playing cards, and good times.

Wishing for sunny skies for me and for you.

It’s in the Details

A few weeks ago when I was putting together my monthly recap, I spent the afternoon out and about and didn’t get an updated picture I needed during daylight hours.

No worries—after all, it was the fireplace where the MR had touched up the paint to make my cluster of photos look even better. The heart of the home with three sets of lights, it would surely be well-lit. So I turned on all those switches and…

While the sconces flood the sides with light, the mantel and the place of pride above are left in shadows.

Granted, we’ve added some task lighting next to the seating area; and if it was still the sunken “conversation pit”, that area would be lit. But with all the care and effort people put in to decorating their mantel, wouldn’t it be nice if you could actually see it?

That’s why when me and the MR met with an interior designer this week about a possible master bathroom renovation, we talked lighting as well.

These little details can make or break the function of a room.

If you’re a guest at our home in the evening, you’re just going to have to trust me that the copper piece dances in the light and the sweet family pictures are pretty cute, too.

Any lighting dilemmas at your house? Don’t worry; I’ll keep you posted on any changes we make.

You can see the mantel in daylight here, and if you can’t remember the conversation pit or how the fireplace has changed check it out here.

In other news, it’s Baby Girl’s 21st Birthday. Love you Missy.

A Bargain Isn’t Always a Bargain

My mom worked retail for 30 years, and I managed to absorb some little nuggets. One of them was that January means inventory (weird work hours when your mom’s not home) and sales (because people want to have less merchandise to count).

So I wasn’t surprised to see lots of “white sales” during January. When me and the MR played hookey on MLKJ Day and headed to the mall, we checked out some furniture I’d been eyeing and then went to see about a bedspread. It was linen, it was on sale, it looked fine, and it was 30 percent off.

When I asked the MR for his opinion, he didn’t care. I told him it was OK, but I didn’t love it. He told me that was my answer and that he was surprised I even thinking about it. Hmm. That man has such wisdom sometimes.  If you feel ho-hum about it, why lay down a ton of cash?

I came home and decided to look online. For around $75, I bought a comforter and two shams for the bed on Joss & Main. It’s lightweight, yeah, a tightly-woven fabric, yeah, and has enough quilted pattern to hide dog fur and drool, yeah. Seems like a great deal.

I know I just bought a new patterned bedspread a year ago, but Cocoa’s paws have snagged it up horribly. And while she’s good about staying down when we’re home, there’s a definite dog-sleeping on the bed indentation when we arrive back from work or errands.

I’m rather excited about the matching shams. It might be too much gray, but for now I’m giving them a trial run.If it’s too bland, I can swap the shams for the ones I made ages ago. Perhaps they’d add some softness to the daybed in the sewing room. Lots of options, and no snagged fabric. I’m happy with my bargain.

Any shopping tips to share?

My People

You know how you send your children off to school, and they come home with all sorts of information and ideas you’ve never even heard of? I guess it means all that money we’re paying for education is actually doing something.

Sweet Miss graduated a couple years ago and started teaching at a new school last fall. She’s been using phrases like “Conscious Discipline” and “Reggio Emilia Approach”. Huh? Like I said before, it looks like she learned something in all that schooling.

One method she explained for dealing with a fussy child missing their mom or dad was to ask them who their person was. After that, you simple blow that person a kiss and say “I wish you well” and move on. I’m not sure how well that works, but I do agree it’s important to know who your people are.

My people are the ones on the mantel.

The MR and the girls are having a great time at a recent Dad’s Weekend, and then me and the MR are looking for King Kong on our trip to New York a few years ago. The photos are reminders of family and togetherness. I love how the green in the frame picks up on all the green in the stadium. It’s recycled from a motherboard (which the MR used to design), and we bought it back in Kansas when my nephew got married.

I’ve been searching for a frame for the picture of the two of us for ages. It’s an odd size, and it wouldn’t fit in a regular frame without having to crop out the top of the Empire State Building, and that’s kind of the whole point of the thing. A little wandering at Target last week, and a floating frame came to the rescue.

The picture with the penny is from Papa Larry. It arrived in the mail shortly after I finished the penny counters in the den area. And the slate and copper wire mirror I picked up on a family trip to eastern Washington.

I like knowing who my people are and surrounding us with memories.

Who are your people?

Playing to Your Strengths

There are times in your life when you have more time than money. That’s when you have to get creative in your decorating and also in your gift giving.

Being in college and studying abroad have impacted Baby Girl’s budget, but she surprised the family this year with lovely watercolors personalized for each of us.

For the MR, she painted a scene of palm trees and beaches, and for me, it was a rainbow viewed from the great room. Sweet Miss received a copy of one of her engagement photos, and the Fella got an inspiring outdoor scene that looked great for mountain biking.

While Sweet Miss and the Fella took theirs home with them, me and the MR’s painting have been sitting on the mantel for the last few weeks. The paintings are an odd size, so I’ve been certain I’d need to buy new frames and get them specially mounted.

Then I remembered the pair of framed school photos that used to grace the top of the piano years ago. They’d been displayed in the office area until we’d replaced them for senior photos on canvas a few years back. These old frames from Costco might just do the trick.

I found them in the storage room off the garage and was surprised at how faded Sweet Miss’ photo had become after a few years with all our sun in the great room. Maybe an area with less sun exposure would help our watercolors stay pristine.

We lose a little of the painting with the matting, but for now, I’m pleased with how these turned out and have hung them in the powder room out of direct sunlight. I especially like how my painting is reflected in the large mirror behind the door, so there are not one but two images echoing the angled roofline that defines our house.

Thank you Baby Girl for this sweet and thoughtful gift. And thanks also to your roommate for sending them in the mail when you were exhausted after finals and left them behind. We can proudly claim to have original art from an artist trained in Rome. Doesn’t that sound fancy?

How have you gotten creative when funds were tight? Any framing advise you can share? 

Reboot

I spent much of last weekend packing up the Christmas decorations and putting the house back in order. After the over-the-top excess of the holidays with stockings, and trees, and nutcrackers, I’ve been slow to put back decorations on the mantel and shelves.

The fall season is over, and we’re not quite ready for fresh spring flowers. Do I give in to the cold and icy feel of winter or add some hearts and red in tribute to Valentine’s Day?

I noticed a friend from college still has her Christmas village decorating her living room just because she likes them. It’s OK not to rush into the next big thing.

Like a palate cleanse between courses, sometimes your eyes need a rest. Besides, this will give me a chance to touch up the paint on the fireplace and get Baby Girl’s sketches framed. It’ll all come together eventually.

Do you change up your decorating with the season or stick with tried and true?