25 May 2017

Seeing Our Positive Accomplishments: Home Decor

I have been feeling discouraged with the progress (or lack of progress) on making our home look lovely. I am highly motivated to have a home that is comfortable and welcoming and we have been struggling. That means I really struggle because having this feels so vital to my soul. While ruminating about this over the past couple of days, it came to me that things are getting prettier around here, I just haven't let myself see that.

Last week I finally FINALLY got a plant and pot that I bought last summer out on the front porch of our house. You may remember I had planned to make a wood plant stand to put the pot it. Well just didn't have time for that. So here we are 10 months later and I found this wonderful stick table I bought 18 months ago and put the pot and plant on top of that and suddenly I have a front porch look that I like. It goes well with the basket I bought last winter for the door that I can update for holidays and seasons with a cute little sign on the front and rotating flowers or plants inside.

I happened to pick up these patriotic fan decorations at Target last week and they were sitting on my desk and I thought, hey I know what I can put in that basket for the summer. Since the front door is well protected and shaded they should be fine there for the entire summer. If not I have another set I can replace them with. The doormat I bought last fall some time and I love it and it all works and speaks my style. Needed that! Okay, progress is happening!

Even if the house hasn't been painted a color I actually like and I'm a little unthrilled with the turquoise front door (some days I like it, but I would love to get rid of that middle section with all the scrolly stuff!) I can still be happy with things done the best they can for now. Wanting everything done right this second isn't really very realistic and why make myself miserable. It may not be magazine worthy but it's the best it's ever been and I can be happy with that for now.

Before I updated the front door basket I took a small whisk broom and swept down the entire door. Then I used a really great squirt bottle that has a good strong sprayer on it and squirted down the front door really well with just plain water, getting into all those nooks and crannies. It was like a mini-power wash for the door. I dried it off and wow did it look a million times better without all the silt and dirt deposits on every edge!

That entire front door update was not that hard and in fact took just a little over 30 minutes. The Man had stacked some small boxes of wood near that door which was making it look a little messy and they had been there for a while. Making those go away was just three simple trips to move those boxes where they needed to be.  None of this was as overwhelming as it feels sometimes.

Next I realized that I'd made some valuable improvements on our "curb appeal" by hanging the silk lanterns together in a tree, adding the new chairs and a little "As-is" IKEA table I picked up just before we left California that has been waiting for a home. Now when people come up to our home they don't see dry ground, scraggly juniper trees and sagebrush. Hopefully they see a welcoming patio! Plans are to add an outdoor table here shortly with some chairs for outside meals, newspaper or magazine reading, journal writing and early morning tea. Can't wait.

On the back patio we still have work to do, but just adding my pretty white and terra cotta pots of vegetable and herbs has cheered up that space quite a bit! Progress!

It sure helped to turn my attitude and perspective around when I started really seeing the good things that are happening around here instead of feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the mass entirety of the project. Life really is constantly about baby steps and when we get overwhelmed and discouraged it's usually because we're looking beyond the mark a bit and forgetting those baby steps that are what really get us to our goals, hopes and dreams. So today I am going to again take baby steps towards my home and life goals. Recognizing my small successes has been a major source of encouragement to keep taking small steps forward!

22 May 2017

Creating Cozy Outdoor Spaces For Our Home

I have mentioned a few times here that I have been working on creating some welcoming and relaxing spaces for our yard. When you start doing the math on decorating four outdoor spaces the costs can balloon pretty quickly, especially if you hope to add a comfortable, quality sectional seating area. Even if you DIY things it can still get very expensive. I can buy a nice table for what I could make one for by the time I buy lumber and treat it so that can safely be outside in the sun and rain.

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So I made my dream list, whittled it down and then whittled it down some more. I came to a realization that making the areas serviceable for our goals could be done well with a little creativity and some cost savings. Rather than having a long table with chairs for the dining area, I am considering two picnic tables set end to end. That way I get a table and seating for a huge savings over buying a table or building a table and then needing to buy 10-12 chairs. It can still be plenty cozy with a nice table arrangement and our beautiful string lights overhead. Lovely.

I also got very practical about chaise lounges for the pool area. The hotel style plastic ones will work just fine and I can get seating and side tables for a nice price with a discount. Done deal.

I also started watching sales and looking at Craigslist. Craigslist, comically was extremely overpriced for the used furniture people were selling. I could buy new for a better price. I'd been watching a few patio chairs at Target anticipating there would be a sale toward the end of May and found them on sale this past weekend. I was looking at a different chair but when I went into the store to give them one last try I ended up picking up the Southwest Wicker Club Chair which I liked a lot better and was just five dollars more.

So I grabbed the gray with gray cushions and found a way to pack them into the back of my Volkswagen Golf. IT has a pretty amazing cargo area when you put the back seats down. I also had three huge bags of soil that I had to move to the floor of the front seat because I needed the height to get the chairs in. But it all worked and I actually still had quite a bit of space in the back.

I also picked up two of these pillows which are great. I like the funky pineapple image and on the back it's a fun, bold black and white pattern so you can choose a side, use one of each or whatever you like.

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For right now these chairs are going on the front patio, until we get a table out front. I'm almost thinking about picking up three picnic tables and putting two in the back and one on that front patio. Because it's an East facing patio, it's a great place to sit in the mornings or to get away from the sun in the afternoons and early evenings. It's also next to the driveway so there's room for other activities like bike riding, giant bubble wanding or throwing ball with the dog as well.

Once I got the chairs in place and all the wrapping off them and tags cut off the pillows, I pulled out the super cute solar silk outdoor lanterns I picked up at IKEA in February. You can see them at the link, scroll down a bit. I had planned to put them in the backyard, but I going to use them in the front for a while. I also have three strands of white and black small round lanterns that I can use in the front or back. I might put those in the front yard and then bring the larger silk lanterns to the back yard where I think they will hang better from the larger trees.

So far my initial planning budget has plummeted by a thousand or more dollars, which is good. We can always upgrade later and we we may find that picnic tables fit our mountain home just perfectly. We can get all three tables for less than the price of one dining set with chairs. I like that idea right now. There are still so many things we could invest in for this house and that need attention, so it makes sense to be budget conscious but also get the house in a place where we can enjoy it more and entertain, etc.

Working outside the house has been fun and it's encouraging us to spend more time outside which I think is hugely healthy for the mind and soul. It seems like if you start the habit of spending time outside at the beginning of the summer you spend more time outside over the course of the summer.  I'd like to do that this year. I always think those summers where you realize mournfully in mid-August that you didn't make the most of it are rather sad.

So it's headlong into summer now, fingers crossed. Now we just need some summer weather two days in a row. The weather certainly has been fickle this Spring! I may regret my complaints come early August after it's been 100+ for a month straight. Ha.


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