Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Look at Outdoor Furniture

Today, I thought I'd keep the outdoor space love going with a look at furniture.

I'm envious of the all those screened in porches on the east coast, they seem so practical and one can use furniture made of wicker and grasses.  Much of that furniture is made to withstand humidity and moisture, but not necessarily the rain. 
I made the mistake once of buying some darling wicker chairs to sit in our front patio area, but didn't get them covered in time before a thunder storm hit. We don't get too many storms here in the summer, one or two a season and they are always short lived - an hour at the very most. So I thought I'd be safe...wrong I was. I certainly learned my lesson.

In a perfect world, this would be our back deck - shaded and screened in.  But in reality...    

this is our deck.  Open to the elements and direct sun.  We do have a pergola covering a portion of it, but since this is a southwestern exposure we still get PLENTY of sunshine.  
A few years ago we added the sails, they really do help to shade the area, but they don't do a whole lot if we get rain.  
That's why I'm so glad they are making imitation wicker outdoor furniture.  These chairs are made out of woven plastic and boy are they durable.  The large chairs have been out year round for four years and the smaller ones for three.  They are really wearing like iron. We purchased the larger chairs at Kohl's and the smaller contemporary ones at Target.

Metal is another option for outdoor seating and dining furniture.  Dana's settee, chairs and dining table are perfect examples. If you haven't already, you really need to hop on over to her blog Chocolate and Sunshine to take a look at her deck transformation.  It's amazing.

These metal chairs are a favorite style of mine - memories of my childhood.  I could kick myself for not rescuing the pair that were stored in my parent's old barn.  
Wood, especially teak, is wonderful for outdoor spaces.  It takes a lot of work to maintain its original color, but it will weather into a beautiful gray patina and will last for years.

Below are a couple of my favorites from around the web. The first is the refurbished deck of Coco, you know her as the talented creative mind behind the textile and linen lines of Cococozy.  I just love her style!
Who could resist the painted wood summer icons - the Adirondack chair. They are now available in recycled plastic versions as well.

If you have enough space, built in seating is ideal, just add cushions.  And speaking of cushions, make sure they are made out of outdoor fabrics that resist fading in the sun. You don't want to have to replace them every year.  

Just add a couple of portable chairs and you have seating that will accommodate more guests in a flash. 

They are easily to folded and can quickly be removed in case of inclement weather. The butterfly chair and and sling chair are two great examples.
Again, make sure the fabric is out of fade resistant canvas for longevity.
Also remember that these chairs are built low to the ground and may be hard for some folks to get in and out of.

And of course for the nostalgic, who could resist an old fashioned porch swing?  There's nothing better than to sit in the shade sipping a cold drink swinging away. Don't you agree?

Summer is flying by and much of the furniture is now on sale or even on clearance at your local stores.  This is a great time to shop for outdoor furniture and the best part is, you can still enjoy it for the rest of the summer.  It stays nice weather here through September at least, and in some years October.  
How about in your neighborhood?


Monday, July 21, 2014

A New Look For Our Deck

I'm a little late getting our deck ready for it is the end of July and I'm just getting it together...what?
Our old bamboo area rug had given up the ghost and the pillows out there were looking pretty tired and faded, so I knew I needed to do something.

Yellow and gray is my go-to color combination right now, and when I found this fabric on sale I knew I just had to have it. The fabric left the store with me and soon were sewn into pillow covers that replaced the old ones.

So I had my pillows. Cute, don't you think?   

They really brightened up the space, but the deck was still looking pretty blah. I needed a rug to ground the furniture.
We get very intense and HOT sun out there during the summer months (hence the sails) so I wanted something durable, but I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg for it.

 After searching the web and our local sources, nothing seemed to be just right. Perhaps a DIY project was in order? I seem to be on a make-it-from-a-drop-cloth binge, see how I made cornices using drop cloths here. Hmm, an idea was starting to percolate, and I had my color palette in the pillows, all I needed was a pattern.  I didn't want anything too elaborate since my ankle is still healing and I didn't want to be on my hands and knees on the garage floor painting something complicated. With the dominant stripes in the pillows, I didn't want a stripe or chevron that although simple, would fight with their pattern. 
Off to Pinterest I went and in a very short time I found my inspiration, thank you Mary Elisa
I used two different widths of painters tape and Target's new line of paint in those cute little pots, as well as some left over paint from our house.

I was off and running.  I didn't prepare the canvas with gesso as Mary Elisa suggested, and in hindsight it probably would have saved me some paint - some areas needed a thorough touch-up.  I let it dry for a couple of hours and then sprayed a clear coat over the top to protect it. 

Here's the finished deck.  What do you think?
I think it turned out pretty well.  It's just the pop of color I was after and reflects the patterns of the pillows without repeating them.

I'm very happy with the results.  
For a few hours of work and less than $30 for materials I think I have a winner for the summer.

So now you know what I was doing this weekend, what were you up to?  I hope you had some time to relax and enjoy the summer that is flying by.
Have a great week.

Meanwhile...I'll be over at A stroll Through Life's "Inspire Me Tuesday" party

Friday, July 18, 2014

Photo Friday: Solitude

I know, I know.  It's the middle of summer, everyone's posting pictures of lakes and beaches, while I post a picture of the snow.  What's up with that?

Well, I decided to enter a Friday photo challenge and the theme is solitude. To me, there is nothing more serene that sitting inside with a warm cup of coffee by the crackling fire and watching it snow.  It is so silent and serene.

Solitude - just me, the snow, and my thoughts.  Heavenly.

Many of you are cringing right now of the thought after the winter you've had, but since we are in the midst of a severe drought out west it doesn't hurt to wish for a snow packed winter for us this year.  

Have a great weekend - 
one filled with sunshine, warm weather, and relaxation.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Friends Forever - The Making of a Quilt

You may have noticed that I haven't been as active around the internet lately.  I have a good excuse!
One of my dearest friends came to visit this week.  She and I met during our first teaching assignment over 30 years ago.  We were young, idealistic, and had so much in common. Together we executed many a creative project. Through the years we have supported each other through many rough patches and shared in each others' joys.  Even though I moved about three hours away, we have managed to keep in touch (our marathon phone calls can go on for hours).  
So she came up to spend a few days with me, and although we didn't have any specific plans we managed to fill the time.  
We did some shopping, toured one of our antique malls, and popped in to one of my favorite interior boutiques. Stop by later next week for my tour of their new location.

Then we stuffed ourselves at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants - Tres Hombres before heading off to see "Chef" - thanks Libby @ Eye For Detail for the rave review - We weren't disappointed. It's poignant and funny on so many levels.

Neither one of us is very spontaneous, so we were shocked when we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the fabric store planning a baby quilt for her granddaughter who is expected in a couple of weeks.  We were actually going in to get some yarn.  Can you imagine?

With fabric in tow we headed back to my house late in the afternoon to plan the design and cut the pieces.  We didn't even start cutting until after dinner!  By midnight we had everything cut and ready to piece together the next day.

Now I need to tell you that we were under a time constraint.  She had to be on the road by three. so that got us up and sewing early in the morning, working straight through with no breaks.  We tag-teamed it...I would stitch while she would pin and press and vise versa. I was stitching on the last of the binding at 2:45 while she was packing her car. Whew... We made it! 

Teamwork paid off.  Isn't it cute?  
She happily carried it out to her car for delivery.  I can't wait to hear how her daughter liked it.

Until next time...


Monday, July 14, 2014

Living With Hemingway - Part Two

Welcome to Havana, Cuba and my tour of Ernest Hemingway's home there.
Last week we toured Ernest Hemingway's Key West home.  Did you miss it?  If so you can go here to take the tour.

These spruced up vintage cars are everywhere.  Most are privately owned and double as taxis. In Cuba, the driver uses his own vehicle and runs his own business. When the taxi sign is in the window you are able to hire him.  There are company taxis running too, but these are much more fun.

Here's the cute convertible we hired to take us 10 miles outside the heart of Havana to Finca Vigia, Hemingway's home in the village of San Francisco de Paula.

It's quite impressive, from the front gate...

to the walk up to the house. He lived here with his third wife Martha and briefly with his fourth wife Mary.

We weren't allowed inside, we could only lean into the open doors and windows around the building. Not the best views, but I paid one of the women working there to snap some photos for me. 

There are animal heads everywhere, as well as animal skins and bullfighting tapestries. As you probably know, he was quite the outdoorsman and loved the bullfights.

It's in this house that he wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Old Man and the Sea."
There were several desks and writing areas. Since Martha was a journalist and author as well, I don't know who occupied the desks you see here. I didn't see it but I've read that he also had a high writing desk where he could work standing up.  Kind of ahead of his time - aren't we encouraging people to work standing up instead of sitting at desks all day?

In the master bath you can see his notes scribbled on the wall where he noted his daily weight.

This tower was commissioned by Martha.  The studio at the top was to be Ernest's hideaway study, which he seldom used.  He preferred writing at one of several desks in the main house.  

The view into Havana from the back porch.

The graves of Hemingway's dogs.  Beyond you can see Pilar, his beloved fishing yacht. I was amazed at how small it seemed.  Fishing in the coastal Cuban waters is where he got his inspiration for "The Old Man and the Sea." 

Back in Havana - this is the entrance to the Hotel Ambos Mundos where Martha and he lived when they first moved to Cuba.

One of two of his favorite bars. 

As you can see there is graffiti everywhere - visitors want to leave their names and messages on the walls, and we were no different.  Although it was hard to find a blank space to squeeze in our names.

Here I am with Papa at the Floridita, his other favorite haunt. His statue stands at his "place" at the bar.  He is quoted, "My mojito in the Bodequita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita."

I haven't been to his home in Ketcham, Idaho but it's on my bucket list.  Especially after reading "The Paris Wife" and "Mrs Hemingway," I highly recommend these books if you are interested in learning more about this famous author and his four wives. Although they are fiction, they're well researched and well written.

Have a fabulous week!

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