The Patio

Back in Kansas, our friends had an awesome backyard that everybody simply referred to as, “The Patio.” Café lights were strung up at the beginning of March and it became the go-to spot for all gatherings throughout the spring and summer.

When living in a small space, taking advantage of every square inch is totally important. This applies to any and all outdoor spaces at your disposal, as well. We are lucky enough to have a decently-sized (9-ish x 5-ish feet) balcony that overlooks the courtyard and pool. It was important to me that we create a comfortable, livable, fabulous “outdoor room” here, and I feel like that goal has been met! Read on for details…

In an effort to bring a little bit of “The Patio” to our new balcony, we strung up café lights the day we arrived (I was extremely proud of myself for being able to swiftly locate them in the jungle of to-be-unpacked boxes) and put our folding chairs up outside. The chairs are not the greatest in quality, in fact we picked them up around this time last year at Target, clearanced for $4 each. I am not a fan of those ubiquitous plastic backyard chairs nor have I ever been a fan of the fold-up camping chair (comfortable, sure, but they look ugly to me). So, although our chairs might threaten to fold up with you still seated inside, they look iconic and remind me of childhood summers. Perhaps later this fall as summer items continue to get clearanced, we may upgrade. But for now, I like these little guys.

The World Market rug that has followed me from place to place since 2006 may have found its final resting place here on the patio. We will see how the (admittedly mild) weather treats it. While we have an awning over the balcony, the rug did get rained on for the first time ever last week.

The day I put my reservation deposit in on this apartment, I set foot in West Elm for the first time (after spending countless hours poring over their catalog and website) and grabbed the blue dipped pot on sale. I am still trying to think of the perfect plant to put in it. The pot has no drainage hole in the bottom, so recommendations are much-appreciated.

Additionally, we hung up the nautical souvenir we got on our honeymoon in Maine, a Moroccan-inspired lantern (full disclosure: purchased in Dallas) and the Tibetan prayer flags Doug picked up for me at a flea market in London. These little bits and baubles were secured using zip-ties, much like the chicken wire that eases my neurotic mind (in regards to Mosey poking his head out underneath the rails). Looking up from a distance (usually from the hot tub) and seeing these efforts at personalizing our space makes me smile.

Although the company is different, at night, with the lights on, it does bring to mind The Patio back in Kansas. And the memories are good.

Stick a Fork in it

It’s done. The front yard, that is. It’s done for the year.

Last time we talked, I had discovered the beautification properties of mulch.

One plant that we had bought last fall died over the winter, and a replacement plant we’d put in its place is also on its way to the big garden in the sky. The replacement plant was meant to be in part sun, not full sun, but when we bought it it didn’t have one of those tags stuck in the soil so it was a mystery plant. Anyway we’ve successfully killed it, I think.

So. our flowerbed was looking like this–don’t mind the pale shirtless guy who dreamed of getting a tan only to notice that our workspace was totally shady:

The right side is doing GREAT! The left side (under the window) had a sad empty section.

Thanks to a sale at a plant shop in walking distance from us, we picked up two butterfly bushes (one of my mom’s favorites) and brought them home. A quick trip to Wal-Mart got us two good sized terra cotta planters, which are not a perfect match to the tile roof, but they are orange clay so they will do for now. The repotting process took about ten minutes (minus the Wal-Mart run) and the plants will have some good space to grow. Once they outgrow the pots they’ll go in the ground.

Now the front of the house is (finally!) balanced out, as far as fullness of plants, and color (more or less). And with that, I’m done messing with the front yard.

Except I just might get a potted plant for the walk-up.

PS: We got this done weeks ago but didn’t want to advertise what the front of our house looks like since we were heading out on vacation–house on the internet + gone for two weeks = wouldn’t have been a very smart move.

I will start next week full speed with a recap from our trip!  

Down on the Farm

Over the recent three-day weekend, we scooted on down to my uncle’s farm in Oklahoma. I loved seeing my aunt and uncle, grandparents, and many of my cousins and second cousins! We had a cookout Sunday evening, but Sunday morning before church Doug and I had the chance to snap a few photos in the sleepy, quiet morning atmosphere.

I hope you had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend as well! Do any grilling? Take advantage of a Memorial Day sale? Or did you visit the grave of a loved one? 

Mighty Mulch

Hold on to your hats, this is going to be one outrageously exciting post about mulch.

Okay, okay, that’s overstating it. A lot. The truth of the matter is, mulch makes things a lot more attractive, and I was a skeptic until recently. I thought it was just to look pretty, but after reading a surprising number of blog posts on mulch this time of year, I decided we better get on the mulch train! (The ticket for the Mulch Train was only $2.88 a bag, by the way, so I’m on board!)

Supposedly, mulching around your plants is supposed to lock in moisture and keep weeds at bay. Well, the weather is getting hotter so locking in moisture sounds A-OK to me. Weeds? Goodness gracious. I think we have more irritating creeping grass in our flower bed than the flowers that we want in there. As a side note: anyone studying Political Science and wants to know what is really meant by the term “Grass Roots” is welcome to come assist me with yard work. (Cliff’s Notes version: They aren’t deep, but they are made up of a thick, fibrous network, and very, very irritating to pull out.)

Anyway, after a couple of hours of pulling grass out of the flower bed (once ya get started it’s hard to stop attacking the ugly and annoying weed) we decided to run to Wal-Mart to get a couple bags of mulch. They had two types, cedar (which is what we got) and um, something else (that was much redder in color). Like I said, we got two bags of cedar since we’d only pulled about half of the bed.

We watered the now more-or-less de-grassed soil and the plants before putting the mulch down. There wasn’t a ton of rationale behind it, but since it claimed to lock in moisture we wanted to pre-moisten the area I guess? Then, While I continued to pull out grass around our California Poppies at the front section of the flower bed, Doug started spreading out the mulch. Then we watered again.

It smells fantastic! The red hue makes the plants seem greener than they were before, and my lawn smells like a Home Depot now. I really like it! As soon as we get the whole thing finished (I think we’ll do it on Friday) I’ll share a wide shot of the house and lawn for you. Maybe this infusion of a reddish hue will balance out the terra cotta roof? Mostly, I’ll be interested to see if it really does deter some of the weeds coming up.

Working in a yard is not as intimidating as I originally thought, and I might even miss it if we move into an apartment for our next place. However, I do only get the inspiration in “spurts” and am much more inclined to do it as a “fun” activity and not as an obligation. Maybe I’ll miss it, maybe I won’t. For now, it sure is fun playing in the dirt.

Bonus info: The plants we have growing in the “after” picture are, from left to right, rose of sharon, cosmos and zinnias, (grown from seeds!), pampas grass, an empty pot, elephant leaf (I think that’s what it is and it’s hiding behind the thick clump), another empty pot, and another rose of sharon. The clumps in front are all California poppies.