Fall Outdoor Decor & My Urn Problem

Its that time of year when summer is almost over and I am trying to squeeze out every little bit of it–except for my garden. By this time, I have given up. The summer heat and humidity has taken its toll on my sad attempt at gardening and my tired, dry and worn out flowers and plants are clinging to the last bit of their short lives. The saddest of the sad, though, are our garden urns–2 in the front of the house and 2 in the back:

These are the front urns. The flowers in them looked so bad I just took then out and replaced them with these artificial (I know, the horror!) boxwood spheres

These are the front urns. They prominently flank our front entrance and can really make a statement (either good or bad, depending on how they look!) The flowers in them did look so bad I just took them out and replaced them with these artificial (I know, the horror!) boxwood spheres

This is what the urns in the backyard look like. Same as the front but filled with nearly dead flowers. I'm embarrassed to be showing these. They look like something from Grey Gardens.

This is what the urns in the backyard look like. They are the same as the front but filled with nearly dead flowers. I’m embarrassed to be showing these–they look like something from Grey Gardens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, the urns are beautiful. They came with the house when we bought it and guessing from some of the other touches around the the house and and in the garden, they are antique and very special. The problem really is me. Nothing I do in them seems to do them justice, especially this time of year. As we turn the corner to labor day, I struggle with what to put in these urns. I hate to plant more flowers because the weather can turn cold so fast here. I also don’t want to leave them empty. It gives the house and yard such a sad feeling.

So, what to do?

Enter Pinterest.

Ideas come flooding in.

Of course, I start (totally unrealistically) here:

Image via Houzz

Image via Houzz

I know. Gorgeous. I want this more than anything in my urns. However, this would absolutely not work for a few reasons:

1. We do not live in the South where this type of container could flourish

2. My attempt at this would not end up looking anything like this photo, and

3. I would kill this mother in a few short weeks

Instead, the last couple of years I have done a simple, pumpkin stacking kind of thing inspired by these photos I found on Pinterest. I liked their simplicity and style and they lasted forever with no maintenance. They actually looked pretty cute.

Image via MomDesigner

Image via MomDesigner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After two years of pumpkin stacking though, I feel like I need to do something different. I culled a bunch of ideas that I thought I would feature here and then in a few weeks, I’ll share what I finally end up with. I pinned these because they were pretty but didn’t look too complicated to put together or to maintain. You can view all of my fall planter pins on my Pinterest board, here. I’d love your input. Let me know what you think about these ideas and also what you do with your containers in the fall. I’d love to know! Happy pumpkin stacking!

Image via Stone Gable

Image via Stone Gable. This is one of my new favorite blogs. She has beautiful ideas.

 

Image via

Image via HomeBunch. They have got some great fall decor ideas on this site!

Image via

Image via Craftberry Bush

Image via

Image via eabdesigns

Image via

Image via HomeEdit

 

 

Endless Summer

Image via LookUp Quotes

Every summer as the season comes to a close, I experience a summer sadness.  It’s not anything as serious as depression, but certainly a malaise. As our trip home to Ohio edges ever closer, a little bit of greyness starts clouding my head and my heart. About a week ago, when I felt that greyness creeping in, I began to think just how silly it was. How foolish to be missing something that isn’t even over yet? Missing the beach while you are sitting on it? Duh.

It got me thinking–just what about summer is it that I love so much? Of course, everyone loves action packed summer days, beautiful starry nights, bike rides, beach sand, swimming…I could go on and on. But there is something else for me. I have almost a different personality or persona–happier, more relaxed, carefree and fun. I’ll call her Summer Beth, and I definitely like her better than that more stressed out, uptight Rest of the Year Beth.

So, I decided this year, Summer Beth needs to have a talk with Rest of the Year Beth because Summer Beth doesn’t need go away. Even after summer has waned and the cold, crisp days of fall have set in, Rest of the Year Beth needs to remember–that greyness can’t creep in if the warm summer thoughts, relaxed attitude and especially the memories are there to keep it out. After all, as the ultimate Queen of Summer, Lilly Pulitzer, once said, “Its always summer somewhere.” Yep–in my heart and mind.

How to Build a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don't have spar to build a bar)

Building a Bar (when you really don’t have space to build a bar)

As you’ve probably guessed from the short time I’ve been writing this blog, I’m a girl who likes to have a glass of wine now and again. I’m not much of a cocktail drinker (although I love the way they look–so crisp, so refreshing!), but I do love to entertain. And of course, one of the key elements of any cocktail party, no matter the size or occasion, is a well stocked bar. Unfortunately, not every home has the space or budget to build a custom made bar like you see in magazines.  How do you build a bar in a room where you really don’t have space to build a bar? What, you say, is the answer to this earth shattering question? The bar table, of course!

In our home, the main living area is next to the kitchen. It is tight space with a seating area, coffee table and the all important (but well hidden) toy basket. It flows right into the dining room so there is a dining table nestled in there as well. Needless to say, I don’t have much room. What I do have is a small (46 inches to be exact) open wall in between a window and a sliding glass door. So, off I went to hunt for the perfect bar table and art work that could fill up the wall space above it. I found these beauties:

Building A Bar

The spoils of my search  – bar table and wall art

I love this table because it is so simple. It is compact, has two good sized drawers, and the top is a tray that comes off. The best thing about the table is this map hidden under the glass on the tray top.

ACK MAP

The best part of my bar table – the ACK map hidden underneath!

The sea fan art is from artist Karen Robertson. I have looked at and loved her sea fans forever so I waited and waited for one of Horchow.com’s great sales and got this at a great price. I just love it.

Then it was time to build the bar. My first stop was to Target where I found a great rattan tray (World Market now has this one, similar). Especially when you are working with many items in a small space–in this case, bottles, glasses, and various other bar accoutrement–organizing it into defined areas helps so it doesn’t look jumbled and messy.  I grouped all of the liquor bottles in the rattan tray and added essentials like an ice bucket and a cocktail shaker in smaller, compact sizes to save space.

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Grouping bottles together on a rattan tray helps keep the small space looking organized and neat

Since I’m not a hard alcohol drinker, I rely on my husband to fill in here. He knows his stuff and mixes a mean cocktail. He’s one of those guys who orders an after dinner drink you have never heard of but it could burn your nose hairs off when it comes. His bottle selection for our bar table is:

  • Mount Gay gin (great for summer gin & tonics)
  • Bombay Sapphire gin
  • Pimm’s (to make a Pimm’s No 1 – a delicious lemonade cocktail famously served at Wimbleton. Click here for the history and recipes)
  • Belvedere Vodka (for the Belvedere martini)
  • Laphroaig Whiskey
  • Oban Whiskey
  • Armanac
  • Calvados (this is one of those nose burners)
  • Gentleman’s Jack
  • Gosling’s Diet Ginger Beer (to make Dark & Stormy’s)

When hosting a smaller group of people, I love to add a few fun extras like this Fever Tree tonic. They are just a bit more special and decorative than the grocery store variety and I’ve been told they taste great too.

After the liquor, its time to add glasses, and plenty of them, not only because you end up using them but because they look pretty and decorative when you are not using them. I like to include a variety of types and sizes, from wine glasses to my new favorite roadie cups.

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Nantucket Roadie Cups from RoadieCup.com

Don’t forget these beautiful copper mugs for Dark & Stormy’s.  I added some cute party straws for a pretty little color punch.

Copper mugs

Copper mugs are a nice touch for a Dark & Stormy

I was under the impression that one size tumbler glass would suffice but I was emphatically told by my husband that certain drinks require very specific glassware. I never mind a good shopping quest so for the past few years, I have been on a mission to find the perfect Highball and Old Fashioned glasses. When I finally found the perfect ones from Juliska, I knew I had to have them monogrammed:

Monogrammed glasses

Monogrammed High Ball & Old Fashioned glasses from Juliska

And finally, the last little details–cute cocktail napkins, an opener, cocktail picks and a wine bottle coaster.

Little Details

Little Details – Ikat napkins, cocktail picks…

And with that, one of life’s burning questions solved – who would have thought a 42″ x 24″ table could do so much?

Bar Table

Bar Table

A peek inside

A peek inside

On Holiday

Image via MySoti.com

Image via MySoti.com

In August 2006, my husband and I took what I have since (annoyingly) heard referred to as a Babymoon–a big last hurrah trip before the arrival of our first baby. It was a fantastic trip with stops all over Europe, one of them being the lovely city of Florence. I spent a semester in college living in Florence and I was excited to show Tim all of my favorite spots from that time–my favorite gelato bar, that sweet little gift shop, a restaurant I loved but couldn’t afford as a college student. They were all still there, but at each one we came across signs–some officially printed and others hastily handwritten in Italian–that in one way or another said:

On Holiday for the month of August

See you in September

At the time, I was disappointed, but since then I have often thought about the act of putting up a sign, walking away from your life and business for a month and going on holiday. How incredibly freeing, unhampered and really, un-American–in a good way–it is to just take a break because you need it and because it is just what people do in Italy.

I had big plans for my blog post this week. Lots of pictures with a great how to. But remember those house guests I was readying for in my post a few weeks ago? We have had a steady stream of them–with one more beloved guest coming tonight. I adore having house guests and the past few weeks with ours have been wonderful, memorable and fun. But we have been so busy having fun that I haven’t had any time to sit down to the computer to put my little how to together. So, I am going to take a cue from the Italians and put up my “Holiday” sign, but just for this week. I’ll be back next week with that great how to. Ciao!

 

Ode to the Outdoor Shower

There is something to be said for simple pleasures, and for me, an outdoor shower is one of them. Whether the construction or style is rustic and utilitarian or elaborate and elegant, I think there is almost nothing as luxurious as taking a shower and looking up at this:

Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful, marble tiled indoor bathroom as much as the next girl, but on a hot summer day after the beach, there is no better way to get cleaned up and ready for the next part of your day (preferably that is a drink on the porch before dinner…) than an outdoor shower. It is just the simple act of being outside (and dare I say–being naked outside) that seems so wonderfully indulgent.

As with many things in life, when it comes to outdoor showers, the simpler, the better. All you need is a few great towels, some hooks, a small basket for shampoo and soap–and last but not least–a beautiful sunny day. See, even the dog loves it!

Buck

I found so many great outdoor showers when I was looking online for this post. There are so many different styles and options. Take a look and luxuriate.

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

 

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

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Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Simply Seleta

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Simply Seleta

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living

Outdoor Shower Inspiration via Coastal Living