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Posts Tagged ‘summer decorating’

Dog Traveling in Car

So, this is taking a bit of artistic license, but if you squint as you read, it kind of ties into our love of a designed life…

To me, Summer seems to be one of those times when we try to capture a different American Dream; we suddenly want to create the perfect BBQ, drink strange, frozen drinks with our friends, and watch the children run through sprinklers on a perfectly manicured lawn (stopping occasionally to eat a red Popsicle, say “Thank you”, and smile lovingly at their doting parents).

We are inundated with photographs and commercials, showing us snapshots of a pretend family, and implying that we only have a few months left to grab some fun; that now is the time to whisk up a laborious, homemade, special hot sauce, go camping with the neighbors, and (inexplicably) take our dog on a long road trip to find the zombie brewery that we saw in the “Weird NJ” magazine.

So, we plan the BBQ, and we find the zombie’s, but we decide to buy the hot sauce. Our days aren’t as perfect as the photograph in the magazine, but we find some new places to visit, get the garden in good shape, and we try to spend more time with the children. Life is like that; a jumbled mixture of ideas that get thrown together and sifted through. We can’t do it all, but we can always figure out a way to do some of the fun stuff.

Although I don’t like the idea of saving my fun for Summer, I do see that for some people it is the best, guaranteed way to plan their down time. Almost like forcing you to relax, without feeling (too) guilty. Some people still find it difficult, and even their relaxing seems too exhausting for me. They look for gadgets and “things” that will make their Summer easier, and save them time. Honestly, I get tired just looking at them (never mind reading the directions on how I am supposed to use them). I prefer to try and use what I have, or do without; I tend to luxuriate in my lazy days, and keep things as simple as possible.
But, if you are someone who is less lazy than me, and your heart flutters at the thought of the newest widget, then you still have a few weeks left to buy one of these time-saving lovelies…….

Pig Tail Food Flipper:  This, I am putting first, because I know I would be the person who would misunderstand the directions, and flip my steak onto the lawn. Surely tongs are easier? But, it comes in a nice, wooden box, so would be a lovely gift.
Hot Dog Forks: Another easy way to quickly lose your food on the grass, but, it would be great for roasting marshmallows, and making S’Mores.
Doggles: Perfect for protecting your dog’s eyes on those long, hanging out the window, road trips.
Outdoor Chair with attached table, pockets, drinks holder and more:Perfect for the beach, outdoor concert, patio, camping, or even your favorite bachelor’s Living Room.
Meatball Grill Basket: I have heard that this works very well, and it looks very cute, but it seems like a lot of effort to get twelve piddly meatballs (and I can’t even imagine cleaning it afterwards).
Barbecue Dining Boat: Just to see if you were reading. This has a built in grill, a retractable umbrella, and seats ten people. (But is it worth $50,000? Personally, I would prefer the Hot Tub Boat at $42,000)
Beach Towel with speakers and a pillow: Why not? Great for your backyard, vacation by the pool, or the beach (compatible with most music sources).
Ice Cream Insulated Bucket: To me, this is the best one on the list. Sharing optional.

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/

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My neighbor is having a new porch built. It is replacing the old one, and not drastically different, but there is something about the actual word that just makes me want to sit outside (maybe with a cup of coffee) and watch it being built.

A porch always looks so optimistic; it welcomes you into a home, and implies that wonderful things could happen on the other side of the door.

My own porch is barely big enough to stand on, but I still love having it. It shelters me in the Winter, when it is snowing and my frozen hands are filled with groceries, and it keeps the entrance cool when it is unbearably hot in July. The rest of the time it is an accessory to my small house, framing my red door, and showing people where to go when they want to visit.

I am trying to grow tomatoes and strawberries on it this year. Usually, the squirrels eat them, so I decided to put them in a hanging basket, and am hoping that they will get enough sun to grow a few pieces of fruit.  I also have petunias in a wrought iron basket, lined with a bit of moss; they are starting to grow, and the flowers are lazily playing hide and seek with the doorbell.

As small as it is, I know the possibilities for my porch are endless. But, even if I do very little, just saying the word makes me very, very happy!

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ (Photograph is of my petunias, this morning).

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When Summertime hits, we want to be outside; a few minutes of fresh air and sunshine seems to make everyone’s world feel so much brighter. If we’re lucky, our thoughts drift to daydreams, and we remember to look around us a little bit more; absently wondering about the universe, instead of rushing around and complaining about what we should, or shouldn’t, be doing next. I like to believe that Summer is nature’s way of telling us to take a break, and slow down a bit.

Of course, I know that it isn’t all sunshine and daisies, and sometimes our outdoors is not what we would like it to be, but waiting until we have the perfect space is to deny ourselves a whole lot of happy moments. Instead of worrying about what we don’t have, why not adapt what we do, tweak it a bit, and enjoy that extra dose of Vitamin D (see, it’s even healthier to be outside!). Here are my favorite items for getting the most out of any outdoor space.

A round table with a pedestal base – Will comfortably seat four, six at a squish, and takes up very little room.

Mirrors, crystals, wind-chimes etc – Adds energy, and extra space, by creating movement and reflecting light.

A sturdy bench or trunk – Useful as a serving piece, a display area, extra storage, and a place to sit on.

Candles, lanterns and fairy lights – Makes an outdoor room feel warm and cozy (and practical).

Plants – Let these be your go-to item (the garden equivalent of the little black dress); they will soften any corners, add texture, color, and hide the bits you don’t want to see.

Height – Not technically an item, but so necessary to add scale and interest. Use your accessories to go up (hanging baskets, lanterns in trees, tall screens or trellises etc).

Your personality – Probably the most important item of all. Don’t forget to bring some of yourself outside with you. Add a few books, your favorite color, an ornament, or a blanket for when it gets cold…

Wendy E. Wrzos http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Beautiful photograph from Sixpence & a Blue Moon

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When I first moved to New Jersey, I rented a room in a large family home. When the dog days of Summer began to settle in, the curtains were closed, and the roof was opened! Whoever was upstairs at the time, would turn an old fashioned crank, that would slowly open up a big, square trapdoor, seamlessly fitted inside the roof. Then, we would pull a long, metal chain and a gigantic fan would begin to turn, drawing the hot air back into the universe.

Of course it worked, sometimes the best things are the simplest, but it always reminded me of something that Professor Potts would have built in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang movie; perhaps the next time it wouldn’t close, and suddenly the house would be filled with birds and airplanes, precariously avoiding the fan that was spinning far to fast….

Anyway, all this heat, means that most of us retreat inside; watching the children through the window, as they play in sprinklers and pools, or, simply seeing who can lift up the heaviest bucket of water before they drop it onto someone elses head (praying that no-on gets hurt, and we don’t have to run outside, cranky with sweat, to save them). I remember those days; loving the playfulness of ice cold water, hopping about on hot concrete, and eating Popsicles that dripped more than I could eat (licking my hands to catch the red, syrupy concoction, not caring that my mother would never be able to get the stain out).

Summer days for grownups can feel like a chore, but, maybe if we can keep our cool (and our home’s) we can lower our electric bill, and enjoy ourselves at the same time…

•Of course, there is the obvious solution – keep your curtains closed when the sun hits the hottest ( darker colors keep out more light, but lighter colors make you “feel” cooler – you choose). But, either way, closing the curtains in the heat of the day, will help reduce the temperature. It will also prevent your furniture from fading. If you are inclined towards natural fabrics, be careful about placing them in direct sun. The fibers can break down, and the colors might fade. The next time you buy new furniture, for a sun-filled room, inquire about fade resistance and sun durability.

•Trees will shade your home and reduce the glare, but no-one can grow a quick tree, so this is a silly suggestion really.

•Window Fans are a good, temporary solution. They drawing hot air out of the house and can be removed when not needed. Scattered throughout your home, conventional fans will keep the air circulating, giving the illusion of being cooler, even if you’re not.

•A Dehumidifier. If you don’t have one built into your home heating/cooling system, then consider buying one for the main area of the house. They can be an expense, but you will be shocked at how reducing the humidity will lower the temperature and make your home more comfortable. Plus, the water it collects can be used to water your plants!

•Don’t run appliances unless it’s necessary, they create so much excess heat. Run the dishwasher and washing machine at night, when it is cooler. Cook, or bake, only if you really need to. Use the grill, or make sandwiches and salads.

•Turn off computers, televisions, stereos, lamps, cell-phone chargers etc when they are not in use.

I hope this helps, but, if not, maybe you should go out for a Popsicle?

Wendy E. Wrzos  http://wendyandthebluegiraffe.blogspot.com/ Deliciously cold photograph from http://www.montserratvolcano.org/merapi%202.htm

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Now that spring is here for many of us – and not too far off for the rest – outdoor living not only feels wonderful, but is a great way of expanding our living space. And creating a warm, inviting living space outside is just as simple

as creating one inside! For the seating area, begin with pretty comfortable furnishings. Just as with the inside, that means ‘upholstery’, which in this case is usually cushions. Postion it around a focal point, which could be a fireplace as in the picture, or simply a view of the backyard. Make certain there is enough seating for several people and everyone can chat easily. Even if you are outdoors, yelling to be heard isn’t warm and inviting. And of course, tables are a must for holding snacks and drinks.

Lighting is always a plus. How many summer parties or evenings with friends have gone well into the night? Of course, candlelight is fabulous, but occasionally not enough. You can certainly bring out lamps from inside for special events, but there is also some very nice lighting made just for outdoors. And see what a wonderful ambience a mixture of electric and candle light make, especially when combined with the firepit?

Accessories for the outdoors are easy – simply use potted plants! Flowering plants add color, while greenery is always great – and comes without the need of deadheading. Make sure the pots you use are attractive, then place the plants in strategic locations to add softness and interest. And don’t forget pillows and throws! Pillows can bring in additional colors, patterns and textures, while adding softness and comfort to the seating. Just don’t get too dramatic as you don’t want to compete with the outside surroundings, but rather enhance the overall look. And of course throws add not only softness, but are quite useful on cool summer evenings. 

And finally, don’t forget the dining table. Somehow food tasts so much better outdoors, particularly if it’s fresh off the grill. So have a table and chairs ready for family dining, planned dinner parties, or impromptu gatherings. Because now that your outdoors is so inviting, everyone will want to stay!

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Do you dream about sleeping under the stars or being lulled to sleep by a gentle breeze? Anyone who’s ever been to camp, or spent the weekend at an old cabin on the water, understands the allure of the sleeping porch. It’s even better than sleeping outside – all the clean air and hidden sounds of nature are sure to put you right to sleep.

Sleeping porches have been gracing the exteriors of homes for some time. The architects of the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 20th Century often designed homes that incorporated sleeping porches. These outdoor rooms provided homeowners a transition bringing nature into the home, and extending outdoor living.

There’s no need to make a fuss and re-do the entire porch, simply refine what you already have so you can enjoy mother nature right through the fall season. (The only exception… make sure you screen in your porch or use mosquito netting to keep away critters. http://www.mosquitocurtains.com/)

Here are some ideas to get you started…

· To extend the use of the area beyond the warmest months, moveable windows or walls can be installed. Simply add a bamboo shade or two to help insulate the space.

· Furnish a sleeping porch with as many creature comforts as you desire. Keep in mind that the pieces will be exposed to the elements. click here for some additional ideas on creating a sensational outdoor space http://beautifullivingstyle.blogspot.com/2009/06/space-of-your-own.html.

· Consider adding a ceiling or floor fans to create your own night breezes.

· To use the room during the day as a living area, day beds, convertible couches or chaises can serve the dual purpose of seating by day and sleeping by night. Or use fold-up cots, roll-away beds, or sling a hammock up.

· Outfitting a sleeping porch can be as simple as covering an old twin bed with some comfortable quilts and pillows.

Enjoy!

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