Our Outdoor Paradise

The Spring after we moved into our house, we got to work implementing a landscaping plan to make the outdoors suit us.  The deck was built with the house, but we knew we needed more space, so we had the patio added.  We also began planting trees.  So, below was phase one for the first Spring.

Patio - before when built

Then, the following Spring we added the seat wall with the landscape lights.  I should note, that for the trees and the patio building, we used a professional landscaper.  After the wall was in, we began to add more plants and shrubbery around the patio.  Bob and I did all of the additional planting.  This view also shows what our old patio set looks like, the one we lost in the storm last Fall.

Patio - Spring 2009

Now, with our new patio set and a few more years of growth, the patio and landscape looks a bit different.

Patio - view from the yard to the back of the house

It’s amazing to compare the pictures and see what changes over the five years since we moved in.

Patio - view from yard up close

We bought the chairs and loveseat for the deck the first Summer.  It has held up well.  We just use the chair covers to keep it protected from the weather.  I’ve added side tables and the additional seat/foot stool for some extra comfort.  Sitting on the deck is especially nice because we are protected on both sides with the house.  It’s a nice retreat on many days.

Patio - conversation area on deck

When we went to find a new patio set last Fall, we decided it would be nice to get an oval shape so that we could increase the seating from 4-6 at the table.  We were able to find the set on clearance at Sears.  Unfortunately, there was not an umbrella with the set, so I found that one at Target this Spring.  And, I showed you how I made the pillows for the chairs on the end here.  These pictures are from the afternoon, and you can see the house begins to shade the deck and patio.

Patio - View from patio doors

The trees in the distance started out pretty short too, about 6 feet when we planted them.  When we first moved in, there were no houses in our view either.

Patio - patio table from deck

I like the oval table, because I can finally add some decorative accents in the middle.  With the round table, there was never room.  We also went with no glass this time, we didn’t want to risk the shattered mess that we had after the storm.

Patio - New table chairs and umbrella

Patio - view from the lilac bush to the patio and deck

And, now some plant and flower pictures because everything is so green and lush right now.  Plus, it is a limited window that my little lilac bush is in bloom.  I added the rocks into the landscaping this year around each of the rain spouts and drains.  It is working quite well to prevent all the mulch from washing away.  The one pictured below is a pop-up drain from running the spouting underneath the patio.

Patio - landscaping around crape myrtle and pop up drain

I tried different annuals in my flower pots this year.  I can’t wait to see how they grow.

Patio - flower pots and coreopsis and daisies

Does anyone else take pictures of your landscaping so that you can look back and see how it changes?  I was taking pictures to remember ours long before blogging ever entered my mind. But, I also have been known to include them in my scrapbook too.


DIY Outdoor Envelope Pillow

Last Fall, we experienced the storm damage that ruined our patio set.  Fortunately, shortly after that we found a new patio set to purchase from the end of season clearance.  But, then shortly after that, we had a visitor that found out that we stored our pillows, chair covers, and my drop cloth in our deck box.  The little visitor, also made quite a mess of it.  The mouse (we assume) destroyed our chair covers, drop cloth, and one of the brand new pillows.  I think I was too angry/upset to take a picture of the brand new pillow that was torn to shreds, but it looked very similar to the pictures of the drop cloth and chair covers below.

Patio - drop cloth mouse damage

Patio - covers mouse damage

Fast forward to Spring.  As soon as we got the patio furniture out, I began searching for pillows that would coordinate with the pillows for the chairs.  Since we got the patio set on clearance, we can’t get any matching pillows now.  The mouse destroyed one pillow, and took a few nibbles from the trim on a second pillow.  Luckily, we have 4 perfectly fine pillows.  My search was to find 2 that would coordinate that I could use on the chairs for the ends of the table.  I have been everywhere – every department store, hardware store, discount store, everywhere!  I could not find a pillow that would coordinate with ours at all.  Today, my search ended at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  I figured if I couldn’t buy a pillow, I could certainly find fabric that would coordinate.  It was still more challenging that I thought, but I finally found something I liked.  I bought one yard of outdoor fabric and two pillow forms.  I lucked out and the pillow forms were on sale 50% off, and I could use my 40% coupon on the fabric.

Envelope Pillows - receipt for total cost

I got everything I needed to make 2 pillows for $18.  So, I went right home and got to work.

Envelope Pillows - one yard fabric

Envelope Pillows - 16 x 16 Pillow form

Since my pillows were 16 x 16, I cut the fabric into widths of 16 and left the length at 1 yard.

Envelope Pillows - 16 inches wide

I followed the same steps I did with the shower curtain pillows, except I didn’t have any finished edges to start with, so I needed to sew both ends.

Envelope Pillows - 2 sewed ends

Then, I folded it right side in with the overlap to make the envelope.

Envelope Pillows - folded to 16 inches

I pinned near each end and in the overlap to hold it in place when I started sewing.

Envelope Pillows - Sewing the side seam

After I sewed both sides, I flipped it right side out and inserted my pillow form.

Envelope Pillows - After

The back looks like this:

Envelope Pillows - After back seam

My sewing is definitely not perfect, but good enough for me.  After all that time wasted searching for a pillow, I was able to quickly sew 2 pillow cases to get the look I envisioned for the patio chairs.

Envelope Pillows - After on patio chair

I’ll share the rest of the patio set soon.  It is finally getting back to normal again.  Anyone else end up sewing after you can’t find what you are looking for?  Or, do you start by looking for fabric first?

Homemade Diaper Wipes

Diaper Wipes - Homemade Diaper Wipes

One of my go-to presents for a baby shower is to give Homemade Diaper Wipes.  The diaper wipes are simple to make and have gotten many thanks every time I have given them as a gift.  It’s really the gift that keeps on giving, because you never have to buy store bought diaper wipes as long as you are willing to follow the simple recipe.

Diaper Wipes - Diaper Wipe recipe

The most difficult part is usually finding the right size container.  In the past, Rubbermaid made a perfectly sized round container, but not anymore.  And, it seems every time I go to make the diaper wipes, I have trouble finding a container.  I wasn’t thrilled with the rectangular container I found at first, but in the end it worked quite well.  The only supplies you need are a container, Bounty Select-a-Size paper towel roll, baby wash, baby oil, and water.  I say Bounty brand because according to all the Mom’s, it is the best brand for the wipes.  Select-a-Size rolls are nice, because then you don’t have to waste a whole big sheet each time if it isn’t necessary.  You also need a knife.  I use a bread knife to cut the roll in half.

Diaper Wipes - Bounty Baby Wash Baby Oil

Mix the water, wash and oil in the container and then as the directions say, submerge the towels (after you remove the cardboard center), and pull from the center.  You can change the scent of the wipes, by buying different scents of baby wash.  I always stick to the traditional Johnson’s baby wash for the initial gift, because it just smells like a baby to me.

Diaper Wipes - close up of wipes in container

For the recipe, I just have it saved in a word document and print it out as needed.  I used some scrapbook paper I had on hand, and just attached the recipe to the paper, after I rounded all the corners.  Years ago, I bought a package of full sheets of clear laminating sheets.  I cut that to the size I needed, place the recipe on the laminate sheet, and attach to the container.  This way, the recipe is always handy when you need to make more.  I attached it to the side of this container since it was the smoothest surface.

Diaper Wipes - recipe close up

I give the Mom-to-be the wipes, along with the supplies, including the leftover half of the paper towel roll.  It makes a nice little gift package.

Diaper Wipes - ingredients and finished product

Anyone else make homemade diaper wipes?  What is your go-to gift for a baby shower?

Our Dining Room

Continuing with my attempt to share the rooms that I haven’t officially shared, today you get a look at the Dining Room.  There is nothing special happening in the dining room right now.  I have dressed it up for many seasons, Fall, Christmas, and Easter but on all those occasions you saw the dining room from the other angle.  The reason was, our dining room is surrounded in windows and I was never able to get a good picture of it from the other direction….until now.

Dining Room

Our dining room is a feature of our home that I loved from the first time we set foot in our house.  The house wasn’t done at that point, but I could picture myself standing in our kitchen and looking out those dining room windows at the beautiful view.  I really had to lighten this picture up just to show you the features.

Dining Room - Before

So, how did I finally get a decent picture of our dining room??  When I was taking pictures of my craft room, I was struggling with the same problem.  The windows were blowing out the picture when I took it from a certain angle.  Instead of getting frustrated, I just started playing with the features on our cmera.  We have a little point and shoot Sony Cybershot.  All of the cameras we have owned are Sony’s so I am pretty familiar with the features, but with this camera Sony changed up the options.  I found a “SCN” option of:  “Backlight Correction HDR” with the description – Correct shadow detail and highlights to as it is.

If you are better at photo editing than I am,  you may want to try this solution for Fixing Blown out Windows on Censational Girl.

Since I found the new to me feature on our camera, I went around the house taking pictures of other rooms I had struggled with before.  I’ll share the other rooms later.  For now, here is another angle of the dining room.

Dining Room - view of painting

It’s nice to have the dining room pictured very true to how it is in real life.  I’m excited for any upcoming events and holidays when I change up the décor in the dining room and get the opportunity to photograph it from other angles now.

Anyone else use a Sony Cybershot?  What other neat features do I need to try?

DIY Shower Curtain

When I previously shared our Master Bedroom and Bathroom, I didn’t share the shower stall because I didn’t have anything pretty to show.  I shared this shower curtain that I had found, but it wasn’t hanging since it is for a tub/shower combination and not a shower stall.

Master Bathroom - Shower curtain before

I finally found time (and the ambition to get out the sewing machine) over the weekend to work on modifying the shower curtain to work for the stall.  I bought a new clear liner and used that as my base.

Shower Curtain - New stall liner

I laid the plastic liner out flat to use as my guide and then put the decorative curtain on top.

DIY Shower Curtain - regular curtain over stall

First I took out the bottom seam to see how much additional length I gained.

DIY Shower Curtain - Curtain seam before

It was folded several times before it was sewed  I just carefully used a seam ripper for this step.  Fortunately, it pulled out in long stretches.

DIY Shower Curtain - Removing bottom seam

After I removed the bottom seam, I also cut about 8 inches from the side.

DIY Shower Curtain - Bottom seam removed and side removed

I needed to cut from the width so that I could use it to add to the length.

DIY Shower Curtain - Side placed on bottom

Since the length was so much longer than my modified width, I had some fabric to play with.  I decided to just gather the extra length a bit as I sewed the two sections together.  I tried to be detailed about this step, but the truth is, the fabric was very hard to sew.  It was also quite difficult to pin and have it stay pinned as I sewed.   So I just adjusted as I went along.

DIY Shower Curtain - stitching side onto bottom of curtain

I ended up with a slightly ruffled bottom edge.  Then, I just needed to figure out how to hide the less than perfect seam I had created.

DIY Shower Curtain - Side attached to bottom

I looked in my craft room and found some gold trim.  I had it leftover from reupholstering the chairs in our living room.  I knew there was no way I could sew it on and have it look nice, so I went with my trusty glue gun.

DIY Shower Curtain -  Attaching trim

It covered the seam quite well, and added a nice pop of color.  My modifications added enough length, that I could even raise the curtain rod a bit higher.

DIY Shower Curtain - After

Overall, I’m pleased with the results.  I am finally not ashamed to show my shower stall.  And, I did it all for the cost of $1.25 for the curtain and some materials that I had on hand.  I didn’t factor in the cost of the new liner, because I needed one anyhow.  So what do you think?  Do you think my hot glued on trim will withstand the steam of the shower?