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?

Storm Damage

I was so excited to have absolutely nothing planned last weekend.  I thought I finally would make progress on some of my projects that I have in process.  On Saturday, rain was expected in the afternoon, but it was a nice morning so I decided to go yard sale shopping while it was still nice.  I know that yard sale season is almost wrapping up around here, so I wanted to take advantage of a free Saturday morning to shop at my leisure.  I knew of a neighborhood sale, so I headed that way and found some other sales along the way.  I was doing pretty well and found some small items.  I even purchased a box of K’nex for my nephews, because after playing with them at the Science Factory they wanted to have some of their own, so I was told to be on the lookout at yardsales.  I found them a box of 325 pieces for $5.  I have yet to deliver it to them, but its in my car waiting for them the next time I seem them.  After I was done at the yardsales, I also stopped at one of my favorite consignment shops…the 75% off sign was out front, so I knew I could get some good deals on some new to me clothes.  After that, I went home and still no rain, so I managed to quickly get the yard mowed too.  When I was done, Bob was done his morning errands too, and we decided we could retreat to the basement and maybe squeeze in an afternoon nap.  We managed to doze off and were awakened by some terrible noises…sounded like our roof was getting ripped off!!

Bob ventured upstairs and I waited until he said it was clear to follow him.  By then the wind was dying down.  But, sadly the damage was done.  We knew it had to be bad, because our neighbor across the street was calling us.  The front of our house looked like this:

Unfortunately, we also  had damage at the back of the house too.  Our patio set was stacked up like a deck of cards.  Our glass table didn’t fare so well.  Our crape myrtle was lost as well.  The pretty tree that looked like this in the morning:

Now looked like this:

We spent the remainder of Saturday afternoon cleaning up glass and debris.  Our plans for a relaxing evening of grilling and sitting on the patio quickly changed to escaping the house for a dinner out.  Sunday, we spent several more hours cleaning up.  We removed the tree, as it was split completely into the ground and would not survive.  We also continued to pick up glass pieces from our patio table.  And, since we were in clean-up mode, we got a head start on some of our Fall shrubbery clean up. 

The storm was nasty, but I know it could have been much worse.  We were fortunate no one was hurt and it was only material things that were damaged.  But, it is still sad.  We really enjoy our patio and landscaping and its just not the same now.  We are working to get it back to a new normal….just waiting on the insurance adjuster to let us know how to proceed.  There were several homes in our neighborhood with similar damage, some worse, some not hit at all.  It was a crazy storm.   Anyone else experience storm damage recently?

I’m hoping that I will soon have a “normal” weekend so that I can get some projects done.  It is difficult to find enough time to even justify starting to work on them, when I know I won’t have time to finish.  But, it will soon be time to decorate for Fall, so I need to get moving.

Labor Day Weekend Picnic

Bob and I decided to host our family for a Labor Day Weekend Picnic on Sunday, September 2nd.  And, we also thought it would be a great time to recognize my Mom’s recent accomplishment of completing her Associate’s Degree.  So, we invited everyone like a normal family picnic, but then I sent out a supplemental evite to everyone except Mom informing them that it would also be a suprise graduation party for Mom.  We were very excited that Mom’s siblings (she is one of eight!) and spouses could all make it, and of course my siblings and their families too.  So, we were expecting about 35 people.  Fortunately, we lucked out and the weather cooperated and we had a nice day….it rained before the picnic, but cleared up in time to set everything up and enjoy.

I thought everything was going well, and then my sister and I were finalizing our cake and cupcake decorating and Mom just walks right in the kitchen before the picnic was supposed to start.  I just looked at her and laughed, when she walked right up to us and asked what we were doing!  So, obviously not a very good surprise.  Mom just said that now that she was college educated, she was smart enough to sort of figure out something was up!! 

My sister made the cake.

I made the cupcakes and then we coordinated the decorating. 

The little graduation caps on the cake and cupcakes were my first pinterest inspired creation!  Yes, its terrible that I have not implemented anything else I’ve seen on pinterest, but I finally had a reason. 

This was my inspiration:


I modified slightly by using the Reese’s, a fudge covered cookie, M&M, and then twizzlers.  They aren’t nearly perfect, but I think they made a cute addition to the food and decor.  I also added the Class of 2012 ribbon to the cupcake stand.  Even though we had planned the surprise for a few months, I failed in shopping for graduation decor in June when most stores had a good supply.  So, many of the items we were just working with what was available in August and also what I had on hand.

I made the Congrats Grad banner with some Congrats ribbon from the Dollar Tree, pre-cut stars from the craft store, and then I used my Cricut to cut out the letters. 

Even though she wasn’t too surprised, Mom still enjoyed the celebration. 

We had quite a crowd filling our patio.

We also took the opportunity to get some family photos.  These are my seven nieces and nephews.  There is an eighth one on the way thanks to my younger sister and her husband! 

Mom also enjoyed some cards and gifts from our generous family.  This card was made by my sister and her children.  Her son cross-stitched the cap for the card.  I will be putting my Cricut to work and creating a scrapbook of the pictures from the event as my gift to Mom.

We are all very proud of Mom.  She obtained her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education, and maintained a 4.0 GPA!  Congratulations Mom! (I hope you at least read this 🙂 )