May 22, 2018

DIY Pergola - Adding Shade to a Deck

DIY pergola over deck
For at least 5 years, Billy and I have discussed ways to add shade to our back deck. We added the small back deck, just large enough for a grill and a table for our family, many years ago because we enjoy eating outdoors in the summer. We have a covered patio, but we need to go down a level to get to it which isn't ideal when serving a meal. We knew that we would make better use of a deck on the same level as our kitchen. Problem is, we get direct sunlight on this deck right at dinner time. So the deck was seldom used. We added a cheap canopy one year with shower curtains hung from it to block the sun. It wasn't pretty but it got the job of blocking the sun done. Then we started researching pre-made pergolas, but none seemed sturdy enough or were the exact size we needed. Billy kept saying we should just build one but other projects seemed to take priority.
This spring, Billy took it upon himself to finally build us a pergola. I have to give him credit because he completely designed it, shopped for the wood and had it halfway built before I was really even on board with this project. He is very modest and keeps saying there was nothing to it. Thank you, Billy.
He says his plan was to keep it simple. And cheap affordable. He used four 4x6 pressure-treated posts to build the main support and secured those with bolts to the deck from underneath. He then used 2x6's that he notched to create the top of the pergola. Our deck railing is vinyl so we painted the pergola to match the white in order to keep it all uniform. We plan to add another layer of thin strips of 1x3's to the top of the pergola for even more shade in the middle of the day when the sun is high. In the picture below, you can see the pergola from our backyard.
DIY pergola
We added outdoor curtains and hung them on an outdoor curtain rod to the side where the sun shines directly on the table in the early evening hours. We use a piece of rope to keep them secured during the day. This has worked beautifully!
DIY pergola with patio lights
The deck is just off the french doors in our kitchen. Adding the pergola really makes it feel like we added an entire new room to our house. The farmhouse style outdoor table, bench and chairs are from Walmart and they were my Mother's Day/Birthday gift from my boys. The outdoor rug, cushions and throw pillow are from Lowes.
DIY deck with pergola and outdoor farmhouse table
Outdoor farmhouse table under DIY Pergola
This deck also overlooks our pool area - you can see our pool shed and the basketball hoop in the distance in the pictures. Our pool isn't opened for the season yet. That's our next project to tackle this week. Aaahhh the joys of home ownership - seems the work in the yard never ends at this time of year.
Camrose Farmhouse Outdoor furniture from Walmart
Golden Retriever on outdoor porch
My very favorite part of this entire project is those patio lights hanging from the pergola. We have them on a timer and they come on at 7 every night - the time we eat dinner most nights. I can't help but smile when those lights pop on!
I think it's going to be a great summer!

April 11, 2018

Does Anybody Have a Map?

Billy and I saw the Broadway musical Dear Evan Hansen a few weeks back and I can't ever remember being touched in quite the same way at a show. At one point, I realized I was sitting on the edge of my seat, completely enthralled in the emotions of the performance. One of the songs is titled, Does Anybody Have a Map? - and that line has been on repeat in my mind since hearing it. It feels like that should be the title of the chapter of life I am currently in.

When big changes are happening in life, I tend to get quiet and focus on family and that is the stage I am at right now. So, as you might have noticed, I have stepped away a bit from this blog. I think it can be important to take a break from things like paint colors and throw pillows from time to time. I hope my love of those things (and the time to dedicate to them) will return sometime soon.
I have been focusing on nature and time with my guys, both equally soothing for me.
We spent a week in the mountains over spring break and that felt so good. We had a couple of big snowstorms (yup, the calendar does indeed say April - I checked a few times!). But there is no denying Mother Nature's beauty, even if we are craving warmer weather.
We also enjoyed a couple of days of brilliant blue sunshine. Days full of hope and promise for a bright future. We took a ride over the bridge into Vermont on one glorious day. We didn't really have a plan, just a desire to see someplace new and take a few pictures. First, we drove through Addison, VT which is just on the other side of Lake Champlain from New York. You can see the snow covered Adirondacks in the picture below just beyond the church.
Our travels took us across the state and through Stowe on this day, a quintessential Vermont village.
We grabbed lunch here and it was even warm enough to walk around the village a bit.
We explored a few back roads.  

And then headed back to NY just as the sun was setting in the Adirondacks.
Back in the frozen tundra of the Adirondacks for the remainder of the week, we took time to explore some new trails and plan some fun adventures for the summer.
And I thought maybe, just maybe, having a map is overrated anyway. Maybe the best parts of the journey are letting go and seeing where the road takes us, even if it is winding.  And snow covered. In Spring :)

March 28, 2018

Some Spring...Finally

Hello! It has been so difficult to get myself motivated to add any spring touches to our home this month because it has still felt completely like winter. And looked like winter too. But one sunny day last week - following a pretty large snowstorm, I took these pictures to share with you all. Just try not to be too distracted by the snow outside the windows. The good news is it is almost completely melted now. And I can hear the birds chirping as I type this so there is hope for spring in NJ yet.
I added some white touches to the copper pots that hang on our DIY pot rack to lighten things up for spring. I have been having fun styling that pot rack with the seasons.
I picked up the white metal basket at HomeGoods recently that now sits on the center of our island - I think it is perfect for spring, especially with some spring flowers added.
Over the sink, I added a small wreath and a farmer's market dish towel, both from recent finds from HomeGoods. Speaking of HomeGoods, we are finally getting a HomeSense near our house and it is right next door to my other favorite, Trader Joe's. I-Can't-Wait!!
I picked up the "I love you a bushel and a peck" sign at TJ Maxx and now we all walk around the house singing it. Have you seen the State Farm commercial that uses that song - with the young couple fixing up a house while their toddler crawls around the mess? Totally our lives when our boys were younger! Love that commercial!!
Keeper (AKA Sprout-yup, she still has the sprout of fur on top of her head) decided to make a rare appearance for the spring photos. I think she was getting tired of Dax getting all of the attention! She's suddenly had a resurgence of energy lately and we are enjoying it.
It's hard to believe that Easter is already this Sunday. We will be enjoying brunch at my brother's house and then relaxing for the rest of the day. I am looking forward to spending some family time together over our spring break from school next week. We lost one day of break because of all of the snow days this year, but fortunately they have turned that into a virtual day so the kids can work from home (or wherever they may be traveling to for spring break) on their laptops. Aaah, the wonders of modern technology. I hope you have a wonderful Easter!
And finally, it seems to have become somewhat of a tradition for me to end the post with a smile from Dax (along with one from my oldest son too). Happy Spring!

March 19, 2018

Late Winter Reading (& A Few Changes to Cozy Up Our Cozy Family Room)

Hello! Today I am finally sharing some pictures of our updated family room. Winter has definitely overstayed its welcome here in NJ and we are expecting even more snow this week despite the official start of Spring on the calendar. I have been trying to combat that by embracing the cozy and making use of this quieter season to read and slow down.
We did a complete a couple of small projects in the family room recently. The walls were in desperate need of an update so we painted them, using Behr paint in the color Sculpted Clay. It's a beautiful fresh and neutral color and makes the space feel cleaner and brighter.
We also added the new sectional that I talked about in this post. The seat is the perfect depth for nap taking, tv binging and reading. Speaking of television, I finally watched The Handmaid's Tale this winter and it was definitely worthy of all the hype. I am currently in the middle of an older TV series - Everwood - and enjoying it.
I have a stack of fiction waiting for me on my bedside table, but it seems I kept reaching for non-fiction this winter. I guess you could I say I am digging deeper for more meaning this season. Just a few months into 2018, we have witnessed close friends deal with death too soon and devastating illness. Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan, a sort of manual for maintaining meaningful relationships in our lives, was thought-provoking and funny. I can totally relate to her struggles and pure joy at raising teenagers. Have you seen this video of hers? Which lead me back to Glitter and Glue,  one of her previous works that I somehow missed. The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs was a more difficult read because of the subject matter - death and living. 38 years old and a mother of 2 young boys, Nina writes about the end of her life in such a relatable and profound way. It's a reminder to enjoy the everyday like no other. That this it - this is the great adventure. Can't we all use that? That book will certainly stay with me for a long time and I highly recommend it.
So now I hope you tell me more about how you are doing this season? I would love to hear what about what you are reading and watching. :)