Let’s live outside as much as possible…

The other day, my brother Steve and I were discussing how funny it is that during college we NEVER thought about the implications our majors had on our future careers, lifestyle, etc. If I had known then what I know now, I might have studied landscape architecture so I could be self-employed and outside most of the time. I would have loved that! Isn’t it amazing (and arguably ridiculous) that any 18 year old could know what they want their ‘forever’ to look like?

Anyway, I love being outside… gardening, watching the kids play, sitting on the patio with a cold drink listening to the birds, talking with friends… Everything is better outside! I’ve made some progress in perking up our patios so we will want to be out there! Here’s a mini-reveal…

On the back patio, I added a new outdoor rug from Target and a couple throw pillows. The rug is unobtrusive in color – so it “matches” the decor in my house as you’re looking out from the living room. (Stop laughing – I love brown!!! It’s a soothing color.) Anyway, a rug really does bring coziness to a patio and feels good under bare feet.

I am in love with these bird pillows!!! I flipped our brown chair cushions over to the not-sun-bleached side and will use them one more year.

<3

I moved the hammock underneath the oak tree – mostly because the patio felt crowded last year but also because the tree provides some nice shade!

Hammock time!!!

My view from the hammock.

This Pin Oak was planted 10 years ago and it’s finally big enough to provide some real shade and functionality. The kids (and our cats) like to climb in it, too.

Over in the side yard, we have a new pergola over the patio. I’m still working on perking up the seating area… so stay tuned for pictures. (Target mailed me the wrong rug! :()

My friend Dawn stopped by to visit with me. I loved sitting under the new pergola!

(Yes, Michael still runs around in his underwear).

I planted a trumpet vine to climb up the playfort that will hopefully provide some nice shade this summer. We’ll see!

I am hoping to spend a lot of time out here this summer!!!

Of shrubs and trees…

You know I’m in love with Springtime, right? I’ve mentioned this? #maybeonce This was our view last night as we crossed the mountain headed back into The Cove. I had to pull over and take a couple of pictures. Half the times I have ever said, “Oh, I love living here…” I was looking at this:

 

So, I mentioned it was a productive weekend in the garden… I’d reserved a burning bush at the garden center and asked Steve to help me carry it home because I didn’t think I could cram it into my car.

This is Steve saying, “That’s a tree! Not a shrub!”

As it turns out, that joker weighed about a billion pounds and there was no way I could have gotten it into my car much less into the ground on my own. Steve says I have a tendency to under-estimate the work involved in most stuff. Maybe so – maybe that is why I am able to get out of bed every morning! Ha!

I could spend hours strolling through a garden center.

Some women can’t resist a deal on a pretty pair of shoes… I crumble over pretty plants. Steve said, “You said one shrub…” He drove home with a plant in his lap. Michael looked like a jungle explorer in the back seat and I was sharing my spot with these lovely Irises!

This is a close-up of my Burning Bush. It will be 6-8′ at full height (about 2 m) and the leaves turn brilliant red in the Fall! It’s a gorgeous plant.

Totally worth it!!!

And on Sunday, she rested…

I’m wrapping up my favorite kind of weekend – one where I work hard on Saturday and look back with achey muscles and a sense of accomplishment. And then on Sunday, I do nothing.

I have so many pictures to share this week of the gardening I’ve been doing this weekend – with a little help from my brother Steve! 

But for now, I’ll just say I hauled the hammock over to the oak tree this afternoon and enjoyed the breeze and the sun… 

        

Sweet bliss, friends!

I did make it to church this morning to welcome the new minister and his family. Mom and Dad posed for a picture in front of the gorgeous azaleas and oak leaf hydrangeas growing outside the church…

   

Leah was freezing as the wind whipped up… It’s been threatening to rain all day!

     

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!

Azaleas!

Suddenly yesterday, the azaleas just exploded with blooms! I did a double-take pulling into my own driveway! This one is the prettiest…

  

It’s pouring rain this morning but I had to take a picture to share with you all. I love a rainy day in the Spring!

Perking up the Patios

The weather has been amazing lately (when it’s not raining) which has me dying to get outside and enjoy some outdoor living! Bryan sat on our side porch on Easter Sunday. The weather was perfect and that porch is shaded most of the day. I think we are really going to enjoy it now that the pergola is in place! Pictures of that coming soon…

I have been on Pinterest today putting together ideas for perking up our outdoor living spaces to entice us to spend as much time as possible out there! Fresh air! Sunshine! Birds singing! I started pinning a big collection of things that will match what we already have.

patio ideas

I was waffling between neutrals with a light aqua and neutrals with a citrus gold – and without meaning to do it this way, I landed with the porch and patio accessories matching each other!

You can see some of the chairs from our side porch in the picture of Bryan above – they’re light brown with gray cushions. We also have gray woven chairs like in this picture below, so I’d like to add a rug to cozy up the space and throw in a couple of outdoor pillows. I’m thinking this…

patio ideas 2

OK, with that sorted, I started thinking about the back patio. It’s awful right now. I need to haul the rug to the curb – it’s probably harboring typhoid! I got it off eBay last year as an “indoor/outdoor” rug. It’s an indoor rug – fuzzy, soft and rotten because it has been soaking wet for 365 days. You know, eBay is hit or miss. #totalmiss  We have an antique bronze colored iron dining set out there as well as the hammock, so I am thinking this for rug and cushions…

patio ideas 3

Sources: Lowes (furniture), Target (rugs and cushions).

Most of this is on sale at Target right now plus you get free shipping. I’ve done a lot of looking and it’s hard to beat the prices and quality of Threshold and Smith & Hawken from Target.

P.S. I don’t get paid to say that – or anything – on this blog!!! All opinions are my own. :)

Spring is poppin’ out!

I keep finding myself singing, Spring is poppin’ out all over!!!!

Seriously, I am smitten with Spring. Winter is so bleh – and then Spring comes in with color and newness and vitality. It’s awesome! In the week since I took pictures for my last post, everything has grown so much more! It’s amazing.

Tonight at sundown, I wandered through the yard with my iPhone and took these pictures…

        

Beautiful.

I’ve got to pitch this one in, too. Michael and I were waiting on Leah to get out of her drama class the other day and took a selfie. I <3 my babies.

This Month in the Yard: April

I am soooo excited to bring back my series This Month in the Yard! I finally have pictures to show you that don’t involve ice/snow or dead plants. Yippee!!! Last weekend, I spent a whirlwind Saturday sprucing up the flowerbeds, planting a *few* annuals, and refreshing the pots. After the debacle of last year’s attempt to go Southern Living with my landscaping, I am abiding by a firm commitment to low maintenance, colorful perennials… mostly.

I love adding color in this big pot out front. These purple Petunias are not likely to last – I always kills them – but aren’t they pretty?!?

Here is sweet Dizzy making sure you notice him. I am hoping you’ll notice the Coleus and Boston Fern! Does our wreath look “Fall” or “all season”? I am contemplating a refresh there…

 Happy dance! One of the Red Maple trees I planted last year is still alive! :) :) :)

Which means one is dead. :/

Michael was helping me a little bit as I worked in the yard and paused to say, “No offense, Mommy – you are very good at gardening – but most of the stuff you plant dies.”

 The creek is already overgrown. Michael and his buddy Wyatt found several tree frogs the other day.

 The Hosta Lillies are faithfully returning! Love them!

OK, these big pots are an experiment. I bought several packs of bulbs on clearance at Walmart sometime in 2014 and forgot to do anything with them – so they’re in these pots and I guess we’ll see what magic happens!!

 Our Flowering Cherry tree is flowering!

 This is a view of the Red Maple tree that’s alive (!) and the River Birch tree in the background that really struggled last year – mysteriously – and has come in nice and green this year. Yay!
That big flowerbed is a death zone of plants. Only my Hostas have survived. The Gardenia, Azaleas and Roses all died.

This is some Purple Wintercreeper (a ground cover) that I planted last year. I love it!

 More Hosta Lillies – I have several varieties, although I transplanted my giant ones to a shaded area of my mom’s yard. They’re  growing fast over there! Almost an inch a day!

 The one annual I’ve added to the beds for color is Lantana. I stuck it in a couple of new places this year that don’t get as much sun and may not work – we’ll see!

I’ve interspersed some new Firepower Nandina among the Azaleas for autumn color.

 The Day Lillies are back! They will sprout purple and yellow flowers this summer.

 This was my real surprise – the Asiatic Lillies that kept dying on me all last summer are ALIVE and have popped back up! They’re gorgeous if they make it – yellow, red and orange flowers all summer.

 Here’s a close up of the front porch. I love coleus for color and may add some to a couple shady spots in the yard. It’s easy to grow – haven’t killed one since college!

My mom always had hanging ferns on our front porch. They make me smile.

We have been so spoiled in recent years by my father-in-law’s huge garden! Well, he’s due for back surgery in a few weeks so we are on our own. I planted three tomato plants – not exactly compensatory – but here’s hoping we can grow some tomatoes!! We have 2 heirloom Beefsteaks and one Black Krim.

Up next, Robin our lawn lady will be helping me by mulching the beds and killing off some Nutsedge (“nut grass”) with a product I found online called Sledgehammer. Apparently the “pretty green grass” outside our bedroom window is a weed from the inner-most circles of Hell. Whoops! Everyone online says it’s essentially impossible to kill. One woman put down landscaping cloth and gravel before installing a 36″ swimming pool for her kids and the nutsedge grew up into the pool – straight through the pool liner! I am scared. Wish us luck!

Superlatives

I was looking at my mom’s 1958 Coffee High School yearbook and asked her if the boy and girl named “Most Likely to be Successful” had indeed been successful in life. Mom says yes.

I was voted “Most Musical” in 1988. (Stop laughing.) I was the drum major of the marching band so I was a little more visible than the kids who won medals at All State and were going to study music at say Yale or Berkelee… Yup. My brother Steve was voted “Most Artistic” by the class of 1984 (spot on) and Hal was voted “Most Intellectual” by his classmates in 1983. (Also spot on – although he wasn’t happy about it at the time. I would have been delighted!! Surprised, yes, but delighted.)

Here’s a joke I told my kids:

What do you call the smartest kid in class when you’re 16? Nerd.

What do you call him when you’re an adult? Boss.

A very high achieving girl from my high school was voted “Most Likely to be Successful” and then didn’t get accepted to medical school. <insert apocalypse here> So, she went to law school. <womp womp> I hadn’t heard a peep from her since the early 90s until she surfaced recently on Facebook and posted a picture of herself with three kids – the only picture she’d uploaded of anyone but herself. (There were lots of disturbing faux-sultry body building photos of her.) Anyway, she captioned the photo with her children saying what a great day she’d spent with them – adding this – for the first time in over 20 years, she took off from work on a Saturday and she spent time with her children. FOR THE FIRST TIME *EVER* IN THEIR LIVES.

Life is hard and being a mama is harder. She doesn’t need me judging her work from the sidelines on Facebook for sure. But the post made me sad and made me wonder if being voted “Most Likely to be Successful” shouldn’t come with a caveat that success takes many, many forms mostly not at all to do with “success”. <big sigh>

You know the kids voted “Friendliest” in our class still are.

He is risen! Hallelujah!

What an uplifting day! I love the thought each year as I try to imagine approximately 2 billion people worldwide reflecting on the resurrection of our Savior. It’s staggering, really.

  

Clean, neatly dressed and at church in time for the Easter breakfast buffet… felt like a small miracle!

  

All 4 grandparents!!! Papa and Mama P, Nana and Paw-Paw.

  

The chorus… That one baritone in front sounds really good!

 

Uncle Stevie and Nana looking sharp!!

   

Bryan and his parents… 

 

Why, yes, I did make them hug each other. Why do you ask?

HAPPY EASTER!!!

A last peek at our vacation…

As you probably gathered, Dad treated us to a week at the beach for Spring Break! We hadn’t all vacationed together since I was pregnant with Leah so it was extra-special to have all 9 of us in the same place! We had an awesome time!!! It was a lot of NOTHING (my favorite way to enjoy a vacation at the beach) with a little bit of cooking and some board games and a couple of movies thrown in.

   

The water felt like a slightly melted iceberg… But we couldn’t keep the kids out! They were on their boogie boards all day every day!

  

My water baby…

    

I packed multiple swimsuits for everyone… Except me! Ugh! I bought one at Target and hated it, of course! I was missing my cute Beach Living suits from Lands End! We joked that you don’t know anyone on vacation anyway and OF COURSE friends from here were staying at the same resort as us! Ha! Classic, huh?

  

We stayed at Martinique on the Gulf in between Fort Morgan and Gulf Shores…

      

Of course, Beatrice (actually all of Leah’s American Girl dolls) joined us…

  

  

      

We went to Lulu’s to eat and play… It’s the best!!

    

Steve said the ropes course is the only time parents pay $10 to watch their children risk their lives.

      

This was our goodbye to the beach…

Always so hard to leave!!