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Happy July 5th!

July 5, 2011

Those that know me know I’m nearly almost always late.

I once commented to my sister that the only thing I’d ever be on time for would be my funeral and that would be because someone else would be responsible for getting me there.

She dryly replied, “No. Knowing you, you’ll die in some foreign country and the plane bringing your body back will be late.”

More likely the hearse will get a flat ‘cuz I don’t see any foreign travel in my future.

Shoot, I can’t even afford new wicker chairs.

But anyway…

I’d intended to get a July 4th post together, but The Hubster had other plans for my weekend.

As I was wrapping up Dreamin’ in Color Saturday morning, my cell phone rang. It was The Hubster.

No “Hey, honey, what’cha up to?”

No “Hey, honey, how’s about we go out to eat?”

Instead the first thing he asked was, “How quickly can you pack you and the kids?”

Immediately I’m worrying.

Is someone sick? Is someone dead? Are we going into the witness protection program?

Nope…it’s worse.

He’s planned a spur of the moment family get-away.

Now I’m not a spontaneous “let’s take off right now” kind of person.

I’m a list maker. I’m a map finder. I’m a let’s-make-sure-the-house-is-clean-before-we-go type of person.

So the idea of taking off unexpectedly…on a holiday weekend no less!…left me slightly less than thrilled.

I’ve been here with him. I’ve done this with him. I’ve slept in the car in a Wal-Mart parking lot with him because there were no hotel rooms available in a 150-mile radius one Memorial Day weekend. (That was before the kids came along, thank heavens!)

And because of this history, I initially resisted.

“Do you know what I-40 looks like on a 4th of July weekend?” I asked.

“Did you book a hotel room?” I asked.

Once I  knew that the children and I had a guaranteed place to lay our heads at the end of the day, I relented.

So off we went.

I’ll share the tale of our high adventures if the photo lab can rescue the film from this camera…

…which during the course of our spontaneous family adventure ended up three feet under water.

Never ever take your digital camera or cell phone on one of our spontaneous weekends…it will lead to heartbreak.

Camera issues notwithstanding, we had an excellent, if exhausting, 4th of July.

I hope you and yours did as well.


Dreamin’ In Color

July 5, 2011

I’m the type to get obsessed with a project.

I live it every moment of the day. If I don’t have my hands on it, I’m thinkin’ and wishin’ and hopin’ and sometimes even dreamin’ of it.

Such is the case last night.

I dreamed that while I was out with the girls celebrating my birthday The Hubster finished the porch as a “gift”.

Now ya’ll have seen The Hubster’s choice of paint colors, so you know I woke up in a cold sweat.

I’m firmly convinced that the dream had everything to do with my inability to narrow down color choices for the porch…

…and nothing to do with the strawberry margaritas and the birthday shot of tequila our waiter placed in front of me.  (On rare occasions the younger, wilder, pre-children version of me shows up, and, yes, she will wear ridiculous hats in exchange for free booze.)  I’m very grateful to my girlfriends for a wonderful evening out…so grateful that I don’t mind (much) that this grainy photo comes courtesy of Facebook where they shared this moment in nearly real time.

Ahhh…the age of technology…

The result of this panic-inducing dream is that I sat down this morning to spend some time seriously perusing color choices and surfing for photos of outdoor spaces I’d love to call my own…

I love the red that Susan at Between Naps on the Porch coated her front door with. And while my porch is a little larger, this photo is making me wonder if I should change out my faded, sorta kinda red front door for something more vibrant.

This Flickr photo by Jennifer Aitkens caught my eye. I’m adoring that hanging wall basket…

…and only hope that my newly planted baskets thrive half as well.

This Country Living photo (discovered at Musings of a Nightowl) makes me ache for the space to hang a swing and for gauzy curtains that would lend a bit of privacy.

My heart goes bumpity-bump when I look at this clock even though I think that hanging on the porch should be a relaxing-let’s-forget-about-the-time-and-just-watch-the-world-go-by experience. But this photo from Patio Ideas reminds me I need to hit the Buy One Get One sale at my local nursery this weekend.

Found this lovely spot on HGTV’s Rate My Space. This robin’s egg blue retreat belongs to FabuluzDec, and though blue isn’t a color I naturally gravitate toward, this looks like a perfect spot for enjoying a glass of sweet iced tea.

This table is something out of my I-wish-I’d-done-this file. Decormania posted lots of pics of her citrus green and black/white space on Rate My Space, and each one is “ahhh-inspiring”.

After seeing nwdnanny’s monogrammed pillow, I’ve decided I have to have a personalized pillow or two of my own.

I’m so in love with nwdnanny’s Arts & Crafts style porch, one photo-share wasn’t enough for me. I’ve got a thing for red doors to begin with, and when you pair it with a gray deck, tons of ferns, and a monogram or two…well, you have me at hello.

Ummm…concrete that looks like anything but concrete topped by a rug that says “The indoors got nothing on me”…I think I sprained an optic nerve oogling this one.

And speaking of flooring, a slate floor just slays me. I don’t know why that is, and I know that I’ll probably never have a slate space of my own, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve drooled and wiped is that I’m a sucker for mixed pattern combinations…flowers, solids, stripes…all jumbled up. Mixing patterns is something I suck at. So a hearty thank you to all the textile designers who produce collections with tons of fabrics that work together.

Though I’m envisioning a lounging space and not a dining space, Ohioluxe’s outdoor porch dining room wowed me. Did you see the chandelier? The wall art? Ooh-la-la.

Forgive the lack of credit I’m about to give this photo, but for some reason (sensory overload perhaps after all the porch peeking) I failed to notate where I snagged it from. If you’ve seen this space and know who it belongs to (maybe it’s you, you lucky lucky outdoor space dwelling human), leave me a comment. I’ll be sure to link properly.

I could truly spend months of my life oogling other people’s spaces. And there are a least a hundred more photos that made my eyes pop and my envy gene itch…and that means you Mr. I-Have-A-Brand-New-Arts-and-Crafts-Inspired-Back-Porch-Overlooking-My-Brand-New-Pool. (The porch screams my name more than the pool, but I am a sucker for a pool…no matter how big or little, fancy or plain. Give me a pair of goggles so my contacts don’t wash out and I’m ten all over again.)

That photo makes me want to grab a shovel and start digging.

So…what have I learned during my three-hour-tour?

1) I’m a sucker for Craftsman bungalows. If by some twist of fate we ever build a home, it will definitely have an arts and crafts flavor.

2) I’m a sucker for anything red. This I knew. It’s my favorite color and may have had some not-so-small influence on the university I attended.

3) I’m also a sucker for blue and green. And wicker. (Imagine that!)

4) I like the spaces that look like they came straight out of a Pottery Barn or West Elm catalog as well as more eclectic spaces. A huge order from PB or West isn’t in the checkbook (heavy sigh) so I’ll be going for an eclectic combination of pieces.

This is what I have on the porch currently…colors that aren’t really colors. It looks like a national flag for the most sleep-inducing location on earth. Not exactly the “hey, come on in, we’re glad you’re here” vibe I’d like my porch to project.

And here’s the color combination I’m thinking would work for the porch…(and for those of you out there who know more about color and putting it together, please feel free to comment and give me some guidance!)…

Now exactly how I’m going to incorporate these colors remains to be seen.

The front door will go from it’s current “I Think I’m Supposed To Be Cranberry” color to Pomegranate (is it strange that I’m attracted to colors named after food?), and I’m sure I’ll pull in some more of that eye-popping red with a few throw pillows.  I’m thinking I’ll Blindfold whatever seating I wind up with (still looking!), and pull in the blues and greens as colors in flower pots and other accessories.

Once again, comments, suggestions and advice are welcome as are links to picture-perfect porches I may have overlooked. I’d love to see yours.

Medieval Torture

June 29, 2011

Ya’ll know I’m po’

And I’m cool with that.

It means I get really really excited when I find stuff like Buy One Get One sales at my favorite local nursery.

So yesterday, in addition to my Bon Jovi fern and red geraniums, I also came home with a couple plants I intended to put into some pretty hanging baskets I remembered were in the shed.

Obviously my memory’s not as good as it once was. The baskets weren’t quite as pretty as I recalled…

Rusted chains…

Ragged coconut fiber liners…

(This liner looks amazing compared to the other one…)

The chains were easy enough to take care of…

…with cheap (like 96 cents a can cheap) spray paint that I’d picked up for my failed wicker chair repair project. The process created something eerily reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition on my back porch…

(What is it about taking photos for blog posts that makes me realize how desperate for TLC my porch is?)

It’s amazing what a little paint and a few plants will do…

Totally worth having a medieval torture device hanging from a ceiling fan.


Lessons Learned

June 29, 2011

The universe might have woken me from my wicker dreams with an unpleasant taste of reality, but my ADD was determined to do something to accessorize the too plain porch-in-progress.

So I picked up a Jon-Bon-Jovi-1980’s-hair shaped fern…

And some my-favorite-color-red geraniums…

…in so-not-my-favorite-color-terracotta plastic pots.

(Excuse the bad pic…I’m a not a photographer, I’m a picture-taker. And the only thing worse than one of my pictures is one of my pictures taken during a brief lull in a serious thunderstorm.)

I was so not in love with the pots, I decided to try painting them.

A trip out to the shed revealed an ugly truth.

I am boring.

My spray paint collection consisted of brown, black, white, and more brown, black, and white. There was one can of lavender, left over from a project for Lulu’s room, and there was one can of green.

For lack of another choice, I grabbed the green.

After carefully removing the geranium and placing it into a temporary holding container, I used a Scotch-Brite pad and a solution of water, dish soap, and a 1/4 cup of ammonia to scrub the pot clean.

The Krylon website recommends wiping down new plastic with paint thinner, but I have a serious aversion to paint thinner and figured the pot wasn’t “new” since it had been sitting out at the nursery so I skipped that part.

Yeah, I know…it’s weird that I hate paint thinner but don’t mind a cleaning product that can produce poisonous gas if mixed with bleach…but you knew I had issues already, right?

After drying the pot thoroughly, I sprayed it with a liberal coat of this stuff…

And then coated it with my green Krylon.

A couple hours later…

I learned a few things from this experience. One…I need a wider variety of color in my spray paint stash. Two…I need some Krylon Fusion for Plastic so I can skip the primer next time. Three…I need to make sure there’s enough paint in my stash to do both pots.

Yeah…after all the running around in the rain and spray painting on the screened-in back porch (which The Hubster hates but he wasn’t here so what he doesn’t know won’t bug him)…I still have an I-just-don’t-like-you-terracotta-color plastic pot.


Spray paint aisle…here I come!

Big Behind, Skinny Wallet

June 28, 2011

Have you ever taken the kids shopping and five minutes into the trip you weren’t sure who to kill first…them or yourself?

Yeah…me, too.

After my wicker fix-up failure Saturday morning, and after a trip to the pool with the kids, I decided it was the perfect time to check out the huge wicker selection at Carolina Pottery.

It’s not a bad drive…especially with both kids zonked out in the back seat, exhausted from their extreme pool play.

If I were a smarter woman I’d have recognized the snoring as a warning sign…sorta like the red sky dawn you see before the storm of the century rips your roof off.

Mr. Whine caught up with the kids before we were even out of the car. I’m hungry. He tagged along as they walked across the parking lot. My feet hurt.  He trailed them into the store. I want Daddy. He dogged every dragging step they took through the hundreds of gorgeous wicker offerings. I want to go home. 

Within twenty minutes he was all over me, too.

But that’s what happens when you find the chair that perfectly fits your fat behind but not your skinny wallet.

While the chairs I found at Carolina weren’t quite as snazzy as this one I’ve been lusting over from The Outdoor GreatRoom Company, they also didn’t have that super snazzy price tag.

But no matter how comfy, how cozy, how lovely those ebony wicker chairs …I couldn’t justify nearly eight hundred dollars for two chairs. No matter how hard I tried.

And I really really really tried.

So I’m still working on Plan B.

And after a few hours of moping, whining and complaining that I didn’t find the perfect chairs marked down to twenty bucks per pair, I’ve reached the point of acceptance.

I knew my ADD was running amok.

Apparently the universe did, too.

So…back to painting. And trim.


I hate it when the universe knows what’s best for me.

Pink and Green

June 25, 2011

Today I am green.

If I were any greener Kermit the Frog would call to ask for beauty advice.

The cause of my green-ness?

Centsational Girl’s new patio cabana.

Totally, completely drool worthy.

She’s lucky she lives so dang far from me.

Otherwise I’d have to rent a U-Haul and make a very quiet and late night visit to her neighborhood.

When I imagine glasses of sangria and starry nights…the smell of chicken marinated with rosemary and lime slowly roasting on the grill…the laughter of friends…crickets and cicadas chirping a summer song…I go all tickled pink for her.

And yet…there’s that green-ness.

I look like I’m rushing Alpha Kappa Alpha.

It doesn’t help that there’s a particular pergola I’ve lusted over since Betty White was in diapers…

Photos like this are the root of my love/hate relationship with Lowe’s Creative Ideas. And if you’re the only person in the industrialized world who doesn’t get this free magazine, click on the photo to get details about this I-Love-You-More-Than-Chocolate outdoor space.

Barring winning the lottery, this Allen+Roth pergola isn’t in my foreseeable future.

And since I’m still in the middle of a front porch project…and since I’m so broke I can’t afford the “or” in “poor” (I’m just po’, people) …I’m having to make up and make do.

Lucky for me…I like making up and making do.

And it was past time for my wicker rocker to get a little R&R (refreshing & refurbishing)…

Yeah, I know. It’s a hot mess.

And it has a twin. One equally messy and equally hot.

These beauties were part of the package that came with The Hubster, so they’ve seen quite a few suns and storms over the last thirteen years. And they’ve been subjected to some rather undignified spring spruce ups at the hands of Mr. Video. For some reason I happen to hold the misconception that old clothes+spray paint=appropriate outdoor activity for a fourth grader. (Bet you’re reconsidering that nomination for Parent of the Year now, aren’t ya’?)

And yeah…I know I’ve still got porch work to be done. I know I haven’t installed the trim detail around the posts or put in the lattice. I know the front door needs to be painted…yada yada yada.

Welcome to my world of self-diagnosed ADD.

Today the ADD decided wicker was on the agenda.

I spent two hours with a bottle of Gorilla Glue (love that stuff!) and Liquid Nails for Wood (another favorite of mine)…

…attempting to reattach the loose pieces of wicker to the back and the legs of the chairs.

Some of the pieces crumbled in my hand, and some gave me some measure of success…

When I moved onto the seat my repair attempt came to a sudden and nasty halt.

See that hole? While trying to push one of the the wicker pieces into place, my thumb went completely through.

Now it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the amount of pressure my behind would apply to the chair is slightly more than that of my thumb.

So much for today’s scheduled R&R.

On to Plan B.

I’ll let you know what that is when I figure it out.

Parts Left Over

June 21, 2011

So here’s what I’m wondering…

Have you ever embarked on a project with only about half a clue as to what you were doing and you just prayed that the DIY angels would keep you from totally screwing it up?

Yeah, me, too.

ALL the time.

I’m not a “Read All The Instructions Before I Start” kind of gal.

I’m a “If I’ve Got Parts Left Over After It’s Assembled It’s Okay” kind of gal.

My front porch staining project was no different.

I’ve only stained one thing in my entire life, and it’s been ten years since I did that. (I didn’t really enjoy the process so I didn’t rush to repeat it.)

You’d think that since I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing, that I’d have read and researched before I started.

That’s what normal people do. (Remember I’m a “Parts Left Over” person.)

The only thing I researched was the brand, color and transparency I wanted.


Why? Consumer Reports rated it extremely well, and Lowes sells it. Got a Lowes gift card from my parents/sister/BIL for my birthday (they love and know me well). Gift Card = Free = Perfect For Me.


Why? House is Boring White. Shutters are Boring Black. Boring White + Boring Black = Boring Gray.


Why? Solid looked like paint. (Flat paint. Ugh.) Semi-transparent allowed too much “wood” color to show through…not “boring gray” enough.

Now…and I’m about to defend my lack of pre-staining education here…you’d think that a company with a really big website to sell stain would offer really good information about how to use the product. Maybe a video or two?

Uhhh…not necessarily.

Yep. That’s the info on Cabot’s website.

Not very instructive if you ask me.

So I did what any “Parts Left Over” kind of person would do in a situation like this.

I figured I’d figure it out as I went along.

Step 1: An Ounce of Prevention
I taped off the adjacent areas that I did not want to get stained.

(Editors Note: The author of this post should have used Two Ounces of Prevention)

Step 2: More Prevention
I’ve demonstrated my mad painting skills. I figured those skills would translate to staining. Note the drip tray lined with an entire roll of paper towels. Also note my stirring spatula (works way better than a stick). The stain needs to be stirred fairly frequently during application. Stir gently…over zealous stirring can cause bubbles. Stain + bubbles = bad stain job. And never ever shake your stain. (Because of the bubble reason just mentioned…and yeah, I know if you get a custom color they shake it at the store. That should be the only time your stain is ever shaken.)

(Editors Note: The author elected to use a cheesy foam brush. Experts recommend a high quality natural bristle brush for the application of stain. The author is lazy. She does not like to clean up oil-based products which require solvents and work. The author is cheap. She does not like to throw away expensive high quality natural bristle brushes which is precisely what she would do because she is too lazy to clean the brush with the aforementioned solvents. As editors we recommend that you use a high quality natural bristle brush and that you do not exhibit the horrible personality traits of the author.)

Step 3: Apply Stain
Basically what I figured out is that staining outside is just like painting outside.

  1. Do not stain unless the weatherman predicts no rain for 48 hours.  Okay, that makes sense. The stain needs time to dry.
  2. Do not apply stain in direct sunlight. What? Yeah, right! Like my porch is in a basement. Basically this means do not apply stain when it’s 900 freakin’ million degrees outside. This time of year you probably need to stain in the early morning or the early evening or when the area you’re staining is catching some shade.
  3. Cover anything that could be damaged by drips, splatters or splashes. This could include nearby plants or a space beneath the area you’re staining (especially if you have the same sort of mad painting skills that I have).
  4. Plan your staining so that you don’t stain yourself into a corner. You want to make sure you can get off the deck or porch when you’re done ‘cuz you do not want to have to stand outside for two days while it dries. This may mean you need to stain on either side of a set of stairs before staining the boards in front of the stairs.
  5. Start at the high and work to the low. If you’re going to stain railings, do the handrails first, then the posts, then the horizontal member at the bottom. Finish up with the deck/porch itself.
  6. Apply stain to the edges of your boards and on any overhangs. Do this even if you don’t think anyone will notice. Trust me, they will.
  7. Work your joints. That didn’t sound good…even to me. Just make sure you work your brush down into the gaps between your boards.
  8. Maintain a wet edge and back brush to avoid lap marks.

(Editors Note: Our author (sigh) is an idiot requires additional blog author training. She has made the fatal assumption that the reader is versed in the terminology “wet edge”, “back brushing” and “lap marks”.  She did not photograph herself demonstrating proper technique.)

(Authors Note: My editors (sigh) are idiots require additional editorial training. You cannot take pictures of your own staining techniques while you’re staining…unless you’re an octopus.)

So for those of you who don’t know what the terminology “wet edge”, “back brushing” or “lap marks” mean…here are explanations accompanied by some “borrowed” photos…

This is a photo of a “wet edge” (photo borrowed from It is the place where the paint or stain in the “wet” (already painted or stained) area meets the “dry” area (not painted or stained). A “wet edge” is still workable…meaning you can work paint or stain into it/across it without creating an ugly and unwanted “lap mark” provided that you “back brush” (also known as “keeping a wet edge”).

These three photos (borrowed from demonstrate the 1-2-3 method of back brushing. Think of each brush stroke as having three parts: (1) after loading your brush with paint or stain, put your brush down onto a dry part of the area you are working and pull your brush back toward your “wet edge”; (2) after overlapping the wet edge, move your brush forward into the dry area; (3) move your brush back across this newly stained area and across your initial wet edge.  You can go back and forth more than three times, in fact, three’s the minimum, but don’t overdo it. Back brushing makes sure both that the new and old strokes blend seamlessly and causes the paint/stain to better adhere to the surface. This technique is also known as “keeping a wet edge”, and it is necessary if you want to avoid the dreaded “lap marks”.

The photo above (borrowed from Benjamin Moore) clearly shows the dreaded “lap marks”. Lap marks can occur for several reasons. The most common is allowing the “wet edge” to dry or failing to “back brush”. It can also happen if the paint or stain is applied on a surface that’s too hot or when the surface is too porous.

(Authors Note: Hope the editors are happy.)

Well, I believe this has been the longest post ever created in the history of blogging, but I hope you’ve found it to be helpful, entertaining, or just that thing you needed to help you with your insomnia.

And don’t tell my editors (‘cuz I hate it when they’re right), but I agree with them about the good brush thing. Don’t be cheap, and don’t be lazy.

At least not when it comes to this.