Fire and Ice (and Christmas Lights)

Hey Everyone! How’s your week going? We spent this past weekend (well, actually all last week)… on vacation! Surprise! We stole away to the Bethany/Rehoboth Beach, DE area for a few days and it was the best vacation ever. Plenty of relaxing, adventuring, and even a bit of homey stuff (aka. I was drooling all over all the beachy decor options, wishing we had a beach house to decorate). More on that later this week (I hope- if I can get my act together and upload the pictures/videos), but for now I’m here with a few quick patio updates for ya. As you may remember, this is what it’s been looking like these days:

PillowsActually, “updates” might not be the best term for today’s post… rather this is a closer look at a few things that we already had, but I never took the time to highlight. The first being the table that you can see better in this photo:

Outdoor Pillows 010Remember our Thomas House Rules? We roll out the red carpet for pieces that can do more than one thing. Double functioning, you say? Come on in. And this is no different… at first glance the table looks like a regular square coffee table, but there is more than meets the eye to this baby. Table by day…

Patio Chairs 019…and fireplace by night!

Lights 012We got this fireplace/table situation last fall, after our wedding. It had been something on our registry that was not gifted to us, but we knew we’d get tons of use out of it so we went ahead and got it for ourselves after the fact. I wanted to wait until we had a full season to really use it before I recommended it to anyone. Before we get into what we like/don’t like, here is the actual product:

Fire Pit

The Leisurelife 4-in-1… so you already saw two of the four features in action (table and fire pit). This piece is super versatile because it can also be a cooler for drinks:Vacation 252

And a grill for cooking:Vacation 254

Needless to say, it definitely fits our multi-functioning rule and it has been the perfect size (petite, but big enough for a decent sized fire) for our compact patio. All in all, a HUGE win for us. Now let’s get to the pros and cons (keeping in mind that it has been in use for a full season now).

Pros:

  • Easy to assemble
  • Frame has held up to all sorts of weather (rain, snow, etc.)
  • Comes with lots of “extras”: cover, fire poker (self-proclaimed technical term), grill insert, smaller grill insert for wood, metal mesh “lid”
  • Great size- not too big, not too small
  • Durable fire pit insert (this is what we use it most for and it has held up wonderfully)
  • Ascetically pleasing (dark/neutral design works well for outside)
  • Lots of bang for the buck- I mean, it can do four flippin’ things for crying out loud!Vacation 255

Cons:

  • The tiles are not secured into the frame by any glue, adhesive, etc. (We are super careful not to hold the lid or tilt the table at an angle that the tiles could fall out and break)
  • Smaller grill and fire poker have rusted (but we attribute that to having to leave them out in the rain due to lack of indoor storage)
  • The cover ripped (but this could have been operator error- some water froze on it this winter and we tried to take the cover off without letting it thaw first)

So, would I recommend this to anyone? YES, totally.ย Oh, and by the way, I’m not getting any perks or reimbursement from Target to say/write this… we have just really enjoyed the piece and wanted to share with anyone who might be in the market for something similar.ย It has provided us with hour after hour of cozy conversation space, s’more roasting, and game playing.Outside 141Would I buy it again? Yep. For our needs and space, a mobile, multi- functioning piece has fit the bill perfectly.

So that’s the fire and lights part of the post title. The Christmas lights? Well, that’s pretty self explanatory. We just grabbed a few white light, green wired sets (we had TONS left over from the wedding) and swagged them across each of the fences. They are plugged into an electrical outlet by the door.Vacation 235

At one point there was some talk about trading the fence lights in for a bigger bulb-ed version like this one from Target- this might happen down the line, but for now these guys are doing the job just fine. For the tree, we decided against draping them on the outside because we didn’t want our neighbors to have to look at a large glowing blob of lights every night. Instead, we wove them in and out of the branches on the inside, snaking them up as far as we could get them. The effect has been (I’m sorry, but as corny as this is, there’s just no other word for it)… magical.Lights 004Lights 007

Looks like fairies, right?! We keep the tree limbed up pretty far so that people can walk underneath and sit under and around it. It has been great because even though there’s a tree on our property, it doesn’t away any “living area” space. In face, it’s become a great umbrella and an even greater cozy nook when it’s all lit up.ย And yes, we are very careful with the fire/tree situation. We never have the fire underneath or even close to branches, never let the flame get too high, and we’re always outside or right in the kitchen when the fire is on.Lights 012

So that’s the scoop on some of our unsung patio heroes! See you later!

-Leslie

Pillow Heaven

I’ve been on the outdoor pillow hunt for some time now and what always stops me is the price tag (the same goes for indoor pillows). $20-30 EACH? No thank you. My first solution was to just try and make one on my own (there are a bunch of tutorials out there for “easy” and sometimes even “no sew” pillows). I grabbed a few pillow inserts from the clearance bin at Ikea, a clear plastic shower curtain liner (to use as the “first”, waterproof layer), and another patterned curtain for the decorative “outer” pillow case.

And then I got to check out and decided that I didn’t love the patterned curtain enough to make a bunch of pillows out of it, so I opted out of buying it, thinking I’ll just find some other fabric along the way. Fast forward a few weeks- I still didn’t have a patterned fabric I loved and I only had a vague idea of how I would turn a shower liner and a few inserts into nice outdoor pillows (oh, and add in some anxiety about sewing machine issues and broken needles).

This is about the time that I stumbled on this post from YoungHouseLove and this pillow caught my eye:medallion pillowI really liked the pattern and colors (even though I’m not normally a red person) and figured that I could at least go and see it in the store and if I ended up liking it just as much there, then I’d be willing to shell out $14 a pop for a few. After all, we’re nearing the end of the outdoor season and as much as I’d love to try and craft a few pillows on my own, I’d rather have some already-made to enjoy before it’s time to put all of the outdoor things away for good.

Patio Umbrella

According to the Lowes website, the pillows were out of stock everywhere (and not available online) except for a store about 30 mins away so I took a road trip out there just to see what they actually looked like. #committedtothecause I was really hoping that the light blue from the online picture (above) was more teal than baby blue in person and fortunately enough, it was! I had taken a seat cushion from our house to see if they would go together, so here’s the combo back at home.Outdoor Pillows 005Here’s what sealed the deal: all of their outdoor pillows and accessories were marked down from $14 to $7 each! That was all it took for me to go pillow crazy… I grabbed the two medallion pillows they had left, as well as two navy/floral patterned ones, and two darker teal striped ones. After seeing them back at home on our patio, I could not be more pleased with the outcome… here they are in action.

Outdoor Pillows 001Outdoor Pillows 003

Recently, I bought super wipeable (aka. outdoor friendly), woven navy placemats so I am thrilled to have some pillows that will tie in with those too!Outdoor Pillows 008

Let’s zoom in on those wide striped ones in the back…Outdoor Pillows 007Outdoor Pillows 004And just for kicks, I put up the umbrella for big-picture purposes. ๐Ÿ™‚

Outdoor Pillows 009I think it’s safe to say… we’ll be keeping the pillows. Definite pros (if you’re hunting for some yourself): outdoor proof, cheeeaaaaap, they go really well together, and they’re a good size (not to big and bulky, but not too puny either). I think my favorite part is how they layer into the colors and patterns that we already have going on out here. You can see in the photo above that we’ve got a bunch of different patterns already- some small and tight (like the circles on the seat cushions) and some larger (like the floral in the navy pillows). But they all tie nicely together because they are in the same color family- the teal accents in the medallions relate to the seat cushions, while the navy mimics the color of the florals. The striped darker teal acts as a good foundation for everything and the whites in everything brings in the bright white of the table and bench.

Outdoor Pillows 006

So this is how our patio/backyard is looking these days and we’re lovin’ it (buh-da-ba-ba-ba). It’s all set for you to come on over for a picnic or a campfire…Outdoor Pillows 010

So go ahead- make yourself at home! We’d love to have you. ๐Ÿ™‚

-Leslie

Painted Pots and Feathery Fireworks

If you take a look at the basics of our backyard- the walls, the brick patio, the stone patio under the bench, even the seating- everything is pretty neutral in color.

Outside 114In general, I think this is a good thing because it allows us to add shots of color here in other ways. Take the seat cushions and umbrella for instance:

Patio UmbrellaButย if you look closely at that picture above, you may see another one of my recent color projects… here, let me get a close up for you:house 035Sure, you can get a pretty colored pot at any Home Goods, Target, or Lowes/Home Depot, but let me challenge you to do this first. Try and see if there is something in your backyard (or pile of junk in the garage or shed) to whichย you can give a little TLC to get the same results. I say this because here’s what this pot originally looked like:Painting a Pot

Plain ‘ole brown terracotta. Boring and dirty, but not beyond salvaging. All I did was grab a can of spray paint from HD that I thought would look nice with what we have going on in our backyard and gave the pot a little makeover.how to

To start, make sure you clean all the dirt off first for a nice, smooth finish!Crafts 010Because I couldn’t take all of the dirt out to do the inside (I had already planted stuff inside), I had to come up with a makeshift shield of cereal boxes and newspaper to protect the plants and dirt from getting their own coat of blue. Painted PotI’d rate my system as functional, but not superb. Hopefully you have more freedom to paint the rim and inside more effectively than I did. All painting issues aside, the pot came out great and looks completely different than its original “outfit”. For $4 and an hour of time, I’m not complaining. ๐Ÿ™‚house 044I also took it upon myself to grab a darker hue and try it out on a smaller pot of roses. Unfortunately the roses weren’t in the mood to cooperate with a photo shoot, but here’s a picture of the mini-pot process for you.

Painted Pots

But back to that big planter with the summery plants…house 039I was thrilled to bring back some more of those “feathery fireworks” ย to the mix(I’m coining that name because that’s just what I think of when I look at them… but if you’re on the hunt, you may have more luck searching for “Celosia”). In addition to those, I perused Produce Junction, trying to find something else that caught my eye. And I stumbled on these cuties!house 036They’re called Portulacaย and they instantly hooked me with their bright, almost neon colors. I think they’re a type of succulent and they do really well in a full-sun spot outside. These might be my favorite plants we have because of how bright and colorful they are. Makes me smile every time I see ’em.house 047

So there you have it- a quick way to add some color to something you may already have! And for the sake of a plant update, here are a couple more:

1. The Room Addition with the climbing Clematis: doing about the same, but not much growth. I’m wondering if it’s going to take to the shallow/rocky soil. Hopefully so because otherwise,ย we’ll have to turn to Plan B for a natural wall covering. Oh, and I still have to install that fourth wall. Gotta get on that.Adding a Room 0122. The Garden Bed: doing just fine, especially with the addition of some mulch (thanks to a suggestion from a reader)! Here it is in all it’s dark and handsome glory:photo 12b. The tomato plant has produced a few nice tomatoes, but we had no luck with the peppers. Boo.photo 2Ok, enough garden-y things. Hope this put a bit of color in your day! Come back tomorrow because I’ve got updates galore on the outdoor pillow hunt. Here’s a clue: I may or may not have scoured various Lowes stores for these pillows:

medallion pillowTo be continued…

-Leslie