Archive for the ‘Outside’ Category

Watering-Can Shower

MSLO Watering Can ShowerNow that summer has finally arrived (better late than never), I’m looking forward to long barefooted days outside.  Although the kid-proof rug in my mudspace is terrific for stopping tracked-in dirt, after my boys spend a couple of hours digging in the yard excavating dinosaurs, they’re ready for a wash-down.  Rather than giving their toesies a full-force hosing, I love this stylish and sensible idea from Martha Stewart.  Place a teak bath mat (a great slip-free surface) and a full watering can by the back door to rinse off dirty or sandy feet before coming inside.  Another dual-use option is a galvanized boot tray, souped up with drilled-in drainage holes and filled with smooth pebbles — should the rain come again (and you know it will), bring it inside and use it as a parking space for your wellies.

Image credit: Martha Stewart


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Goofproof Gardening

CalibrachoaWith crossed fingers that the sun will come out and stay out, I plan to hit my local garden center at the end of this week.  I’m notoriously bad about getting plants into the ground early in the season (somehow Massachusetts’ unoffocial gardening start date of May 15 always comes and goes without a second thought), but I’m not feeling so bad about it this year given the rain-induced plant mildew that seems to be appearing.  Anyway, Real Simple’s list of 10 almost-impossible-to-kill “goofproof” plants will definitely come in handy as I put together my shopping list:

  1. Verbena (full sun, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  2. New Guinea impatiens (partial sun, partial shade, keep moist)
  3. Geranium (full sun, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant)
  4. Euphorbia (full to partial fun, partial shade, drought-tolerant)  
  5. Purple fountain grass (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  6. Coleus (partial sun, partial to full shade, heat-tolerant, keep moist)
  7. Calibrachoa (full sun, let dry out before watering)
  8. Sweet-potato vine (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  9. Begonia (full to partial sun, partial shade, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, let dry out before watering)
  10. Lantana (full sun, heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, let dry out before watering)

Image: Cabaret White Calibrachoa

Image credit: Real Simple.com

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French Bull PicnicOver the weekend I heard a depressing statistic…here in Boston and the surrounding area, we’ve had a grand total of three days of sun in June.  Since we don’t, in fact, live in Seattle, I think enduring the ongoing deluge deserves some sort of medal, or at least this sassy and summery picnic set from French Bull.  The heavy duty insulated backpack is filled with non-breakable service for four, cutting board, salt & pepper shakers, corkscrew, bottle opener and an oversize blanket — ready for the moment that the sun comes out.  Tomorrow?

French Bull Blanket Picnic Set, $150

Image credit: French Bull

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DSC00691Ever since I started this blog (a whole month ago) I have found myself even more inspired and determined to do things to my house than I was prior to my first post.  So it only seems natural that one recent day when I was home with my kids, I became possessed with the idea of redoing our plain vanilla back door breezeway into something a little more welcoming.  And here’s the thing: I decided I had to do it that day (my husband can tell you I have issues with instant gratification and sometimes it manifests itself in really odd ways).

So it was set.  I packed the kids in the car, made two quick stops (my local paint store and Lowe’s, where I had to run an errand anyway), and the minute the boys were ready for their nap, I was masking off the door lights.  Two hours and $40 gave me the makeover hit I needed…here’s how I did it:DSC00795

1) Added color: I painted the doors (one to the house, one to the garage) Benjamin Moore’s Concord Ivory, a sunny yellow that I have used in my house already, so I didn’t need to mess around with testing colors.

2) Introduced artwork: I hung a fun, inexpensive piece of art that I had recently moved out my living room.  It’s a piece from Target that’s printed on vinyl, so no worries about the weather!

3) Gave us an ID: Until the redo, we hadn’t had house numbers on our back entrance.  It was time to admit most people enter through our back door.

4) Put up a mailbox: We finally gave the USPS a proper place to leave all my magazines — no more mail all over the floor. This is the one thing that I had to do after the boys woke up, since the second coat of paint hadn’t dried by the time they awoke.DSC00802

At some point I would love to add a new light fixture and a small bench (which is why the artwork is hung high), but until then, this redo is exactly what I needed.

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Sun Calculator

I yearn to be good gardener, and there’s no earthly reason why I shouldn’t be really. My mother has a prolific garden (there’s such a thing as a gardening gene, right?) and my husband spent every summer in high school and college running a completely legit landscaping business (not just a guy with a mower).  But excelling at gardening is something that has eluded me.  I think it’s because of poor planning.   

About this time every year, I find myself facing racks and racks of plants outside our local grocery store.  I pull pots down, trying out combinations for imaginary planters on my front steps or non-existent beds in my backyard.  Hydrangeas in the front?  Veggies in the back?  Plants are chosen, purchased, and home when it hits me…I have no idea how sunny or shady our property is.  I plant anyway, and a few weeks later everything is dead, or leggy, or something it wouldn’t be if it was planted in the right spot. 

Chalk it up to being away from the house too much or just not paying attention, but it turns out I’m not the only one who doesn’t know what’s going on in her yard during the day.  As I was perusing the June issue of Better Homes & Gardens this weekend, I came across the SunCal — a little device that measures the amount of sunlight hitting a particular area during 12 hours of exposure.  Seems I might have a better chance with those planters this year after all.  

Find stores listed here for the SunCalc Sunlight Calculator, $30

Image credit: SunCalc

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Patio Vintage

769455750747mdWith the arrival of summer-like weather this weekend and a stream of visitors celebrating kids’ birthdays and Mother’s Day, I was reminded of our lack of outdoor seating.  We spent all weekend hanging out in utilitarian and decidedly un-chic foldable chairs — you know the ones I mean — meant for outdoor concerts or trips to the beach, most emblazoned with corporate logos of one kind or another.  If only I had caught a glimpse of these beauties a few days earlier, we might have been sitting pretty sipping our drinks watching the kiddos knock heads in the birthday bouncy house.

Garden Treasures Dining Patio Chair, $31, from Lowe’s.

Image credit: Lowe’s

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