7.27.2015

Things To Do When You Have A (Summer) Cold

Probably one of the most frustrating situations to be in during the summer, other the sitting in traffic, has to be catching a summer cold. The sun is out, days are longer, and while you may want to enjoy every waking moment outdoors, your system shuts down, and you want nothing more than a soft pillow and sleep. But after a while, at least for me, that can get a little boring. Here are some things I've come up with (and done!) while enduring a summer cold (I caught after a productive weekend of cleaning out & organizing the garage) ...



1. Rest - catching a cold, bronchitis or strep throat is a way of your body alarming you to stop & pay attention to it. Feeling fatigued, one of the best ways to recoup is with rest - meaning stop and do nothing.

2. Hydrate - being sick can cause fevers, and the body will sweat to try to cool itself down. Sweating means you are losing liquids. Be sure to replenish the liquid loss drinking plenty of fluids such as water and electrolyte filled Gatorade. Stay away from milk or orange juice as these can irritate a sore throat and cough. En lieu of coffee, opt for tea, sweetened with honey - for solid foods, eat good ole chicken soup.

3. Set up camp - have the things you need to help you feel better corralled near you - if in bed on the nightstand, if on the sofa, on the coffee table. Some things you may need are: tissues, small trash can, cough drops, medicine, your phone, water, Gatorade, and tea. 

4. Clean & disinfect - wash your hands - often. And when the worst of your cold has passed, usually after the first 2-3 days, it's good to wash the sheets, along with wipe down surfaces you have touched, especially: your phone, laptop keyboard, door handles, drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, stair railings. Doing this can help the spread of germs, especially when you live with other people (or pets!)

5. What to do in quiet time - resting can get boring for some. You may want to be productive, but still get easily fatigued. Some enjoyable things to do while still getting rest can be:


a. Binge on your favorite shows (for example Law & Order or Will & Grace), watch documentaries (if you're a lover of fashion, 2 recommendations would be: Dior and I (on demand), and In Vogue: The Editor's Eye (hbo), watch your favorite chick-flicks (Devil Wears Prada, The Women, Hanging Up).

b. Research places to explore in your own state - get to know the area around you, or even better, plan a fall road trip - for example to a historic place or winery / vineyard.

And after a week of rest, you may want to try to:

c. Do some light exercise such as stretching, and get some natural vitamin D having a sit in the sun (mid-morning or late after-noon), maybe with a favorite magazine. Afterwards, go back and rest.

d. If you're feeling up to it, try a light project - comb through your "Want To Try" board from Pinterest, and test out a project, or do that thing you've been meaning to get to - such as polish silverware or remove annoying spots from stainless steal with warm water + baking soda (it actually works!) Again, afterwards, go back and rest.

e. Organize a tiny space: the kitchen junk drawer (purge expired coupons!), bathroom cabinet (purge old cosmetics!), medicine cabinet (purge expired medicines!) You can feel better having gotten a jump start on being getting more organized.

If you're feeling a little more ambitious (and better from a cold, but a cough is still lingering), try tackling a small closet purge - but - break it down into small phases: clothing, shoes, accessories. When you're feeling better, you can take what you've pulled out of your wardrobe to drop off at a donation center, sell at a consignment shop, or (later) organize a garage sale. You will feel better having gotten a jump start to getting yourself organized for the next season.

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I'm not the type of person who runs to the doctor for every ailment, sniffle, or ache. I try to take care of myself, but after two weeks of liquids, medicine, antibiotics, and rest, the cold is gone, however  the cough is still here - so I am going to need to visit a doctor. Having recently moved to this area, the challenge now is finding a trustworthy physician, nearby, in a clean and relatively new facility and be done with being sick for once and for all... and next time I clean out the garage, I'm wearing a mask!!

Some 'colds' can actually be a little more serious, such as the flu, bronchitis, or strep throat and therefore may need more medical attention. 

Thanks for stopping by - Hope you are enjoying your summer - in good health!



7.06.2015

Easy Outdoor Decorating: Mixing Old & New Deck Decor

Mixing old & new doesn't necessarily mean the old are rusty found objects - Old items can be pieces you already have renewed with paint or refreshed when paired with new accents. Even though I love shopping secondhand (for the budget savings & creative challenge) I love scoring new decor deals at home stores, such as HomeGoods, Target, Lowe's and Home Depot. Although I had planned out the upper deck dining area (see boards & post here), ironically the first space I pulled together was the lower level of the deck. I couldn't wait to sit in the shade to enjoy the view, listen to the birds sing, and sip my morning coffee! 


After our deck repairs and staining were complete, I was so excited to pull together the outdoor spaces, to safely start enjoying them. Along with some outdoor pieces I already had from Florida and Arizona, I also scored a great deal on a 4 piece white wicker set during Market Week right here in High Point this Spring. When I bought it, I had intended on painting the white wicker matte black, but right now I'm enjoying its more back-porch southern style in white. 



 


At first, I had just used some pillows I had gotten while living out in Phoenix, but the white needed something a little more bold & crisp than what I had. A quick trip to a local HomeGoods and I was able to layer in just the new oomph the white wicker needed - and the layered patterns compliment the newly dark stained deck...




  
 The Black & White Stripe pattern is repeated in the accent rug, b&w outdoor pillows and coffee mugs  + the check pattern of magnifying glass handle - also all from HomeGoods - just not all at the same time...



The lattice pattern is repeated in the shadow, pillow print and white ceramic lanterns. A  tray on the wicker table gives a solid surface for beverages...





  
 Tossing a small accent rug on an angle gives a relaxed feel to this shaded retreat (plus still reveals the newly stained deck!)


Not all inspiration comes from Pinterest - I've really enjoyed flipping through my morning deck reads: a book on birds plus a Southern Living landscape book (both thrift scores here in NC!) and I also still enjoy combing through shelter magazines, such as Traditional Home...


 The thrifted white wicker texture complimented with black metal & solid white accents, such as two small Happy Chic white vases - empty now but can be used for small yard clippings and tablescape later...





Originally white, a small metal accent table (I was using in AZ in our bathroom) works great on the deck now, holding a plant in a relaxing shaded nook. Next year adds (earlier in Spring) - Outdoor panels, vines on the lattice, and outdoor lighting - This year, just enjoy the summer shade...


Not piling on the pillows onto the settee gives it room for people to sit, as well as a space for an extra pillow to come off a chair, and not need to pile up on the floor - It's just enough to relax without getting too fussy. Besides, when winter comes back around, some of the accents will need to go into shed storage...



Although the white garden stools aren't a thrift find, they too were a great deal on special from Home Depot. Again, not over-accessorizing their tops leaves surface space for a magazine, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, a phone, a foot rest, a plant or even additional seating...




Although I have thought about layering in outdoor panels, I think I'll wait and layer them in next Spring -- along with (maybe) hanging a row of framed lattice panels along the back of the this covered deck space, to give back wall interest & and contrast - especially with the white wicker, which has grown on me!



Getting It Together:
Mixing Old & New - Deck Decor

HomeGoods Finds - from Greensboro, NC to Phoenix, AZ and Miami FL
2 green lattice outdoor pillows + 2 B&W outdoor pillows
2 white ceramic lanterns + B&W stripe mugs
B&W square tray + stripe throw rug + oval straw mat
Metal accent table + bamboo trim ceramic vases
B&W lumbar (interior only pillow)

Other deck details in the mix:
Settee cushion + 2 chair cushions + 4 green, white, tan, black stripe pillows
(Garden Ridge AZ 2013 & NC 2015)
4 piece white wicker set (to be painted) - $175
(Antique Vintage Thrift - High Point 2015)
2 books ($6) -The Red Collection - Greensboro NC 2015
Bronze chaise (to be painted) JCP AZ 2012
2 black metal bistro folding chairs - JCP FL 2008
Black metal round folding table - Target NC 2015 
2 White Ceramix (brand) garden stools - Home Depot NC 2015
 
All plants (minus 2 ferns) $50
local nursery - closing sale
2 ferns - $7 each - First day of Spring at Lowe's

B&W planter containers: 
I collected over time from Big Lots, Home Depot & Thrift.
I painted them black & white to look more graphic on the deck and to give them a more cohesive style.

Two B&W urns (upside down, either side of settee as plant stands)
Old JCP display urns (free!) from '96 - I had previously used them for our front entry in Phoenix, and I also used them in the dining room in Florida.



Now it's time to sit back, relax, and enjoy this shaded summer outdoor space, with my husband, plus invite the neighbors over - for some grillin' upstairs, and chillin' downstairs!

If you would like to see the deck before you can view at: 





Here are 5 Take-Away Tips for Decorating Your 
Deck, Patio, or Small Outdoor Living Space
1. Ensure your space is safe & repaired.
2. Refrain from overdecorating - leave space for drinks, reads, and feet!
3. Have fun with pattern - take cues from what's around you!
4. Just like inside: collect over time for personalized style!
5. Smaller toss rugs set on an angle give a care-free look, while still revealing deck boards for color & texture.

Also to consider: Top 2 Weather Conditions
1. For rain or sun-drenched climates, ensure you're using specified outdoor fabrics to prevent mold and fading.
2. Consider winter storage space to extend your outdoor furnishings (and plants!) life.

*** Deck Safety Tip Reminder: ***
If your deck is 10 years old, have it inspected and repaired before loading with decor, furniture & people. Have your deck checked every 3 years after.


Thanks for stopping by!
Hope you are inspired and enjoy your outdoor deck decor!



Note: This post is sponsored by HomeGoods and the Happy By Design project. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

7.04.2015

Make Home Yours - Americana Touches for July 4th!

Happy 4th of July!! We're spending a quiet day at home, without any home projects - just relaxing... and house sitting for neighbors who went away. Jeff is doing some grilling, and later tonight, we'll head over to a local park (ironically called Fourth of July Park!) to watch the fireworks. Hope you enjoy a fabulous July 4th - either with friends & family - during a staycation or relaxing during a weekend away! 


Happy 4th of July!
Land of the Free - Because of the Brave!

Although we're quietly celebrating America's birthday today, I did layer in a few simple Americana touches to our home for July 4th... Most of it was created with books (I've collected from travel + secondhand shops), flags mixed with faux & fresh cut greens, plus pulling out a few red & blue dishes - the blue & white chinoiserie accents were just shifted from another room -- and I made a simple vignette at the entrance mixing a thrifted chair I recently refinished (details posting shortly!), and tossed my favorite denim jacket on it, along with a simple flag pillow...








Summertime - Stars & Stripes! 
(Lamp + Black Shade + Panels from HomeGoods)
And if you know me: my must have for summer are fresh palms (picked up 2 for $14 at Lowe's in May!) They not only added a dash of green to the space for summer, but having them in the planters on the end tables gave  them height + they're easy to move to the deck to water...



Secondhand stars - a trio previously rust, I painted flat white - the third is on the front door en lieu of a wreath...



Sleepy Sephora and a summer afternoon nap... 



Fresh cut greens + shells I collected from a recent trip back to Florida (Vero Beach!) earlier in June... 



A (fuzzy) sneak peek at the latest fabric wall art I created (from secondhand bamboo frames + a table runner!) - and another sweet pic of Sephora. Love her - and she really loves it here!



My bicentennial glass cylinder, I thrifted back in Florida (2010) and I pull out every July 4th... 



Stripe melamine plates and solid cobalt dishware from HomeGoods nested inside of 1 of 2 woven trays I scored at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore (High Point)...



Great photo book of America, I picked up at a consignment shop...


Collected thrift books, topped with a frame from HomeGoods - The picture is from us on Newport Beach, CA last May for our anniversary (why keep all those memories on your phone?? Print a few faves and frame them!)


 The third star really pops on the front door - and relates to the pops of white flowers I've planted...


Happy 4th of July!
Stay safe & thanks for stopping by!



6.30.2015

Before & After: Two-Story Black Slate Stain Deck & Repair

Although it's really nice to see outdoor living spaces, including pretty patios and decorated decks, all set for Summertime enjoyment, sometimes these outdoor spaces are in need of repairs, cleaning, and even a fresh coat of stain. One of the tasks the home inspector included before we purchased this home last November, was to inspect the structural integrity of our two-story deck (Also see: 5 Deck Safety Tips). Attached to the house with weather-proof flashing and bolts, we were structurally sound. But after winter, we began to notice some changes happening to the wood. The deck is 10 years old, it never really had a true coat of sealer or stain, and it definitely wasn't well maintained, so before we could enjoy outdoor living in this new (to us) space, we needed to have the deck repaired and stained - with a color preferably more cohesive to the home's front exterior.



Deck repair and staining is not a DIY project we chose to take on ourselves. Instead, we met with three area deck specialist to work on the deck repairs and stain our two-story deck. The professional  we opted for (locally owned & operated + licensed & insured) asked us to select a color from Sherwin Williams Super-Deck. Since I had already created the space plans and an appointment was scheduled for work, the next three phases of the deck were: 1. Choosing the deck color, 2. Clearing the space, and 3. Deck repairs + staining.


 

Choosing Deck Color
Practically nothing creates a great impact and costs less to update a space, inside or out, than paint, or in this case: outdoor solid stain. Just as I do inside, I color tested swatches of 3 color options - on various surfaces (floorboards, column, railing). Although Sherwin-Williams had a color called Charcoal, it just wasn't crisp enough. Thankfully, Sherwin Williams was able to do a color match of a color we really liked from Behr called Slate. Slate is a great blue-base off-black shade, which just as greys and whites do, changes its value (color intensity) depending on time of day, shade direct sunlight and diffused light...



Tip: Easy to carry for testing: Repurposed cookie sheet as paint tray.




Note: color test of solid stain is actually paint, which can vary the actual color slightly vs. the actual solid stain - but it's close!

I've seen where people have done a full value chart of shades and tones of one color (usually when picking their perfect grey), but colors change with different light sources, furniture reflections, and times of day -- especially outdoors. Save yourself the heartache and select 2 or 3 colors, have them mixed as a tester, and paint squares in different areas of what is being stained. Watch how these three colors alter their shade with different lighting -- especially direct sun or shade, when selecting outdoor deck stain.



Left: SWSD Black Alder -- Center: Behr Deck Stain: Slate (SW color-match) -- Right: SWSD Charcoal
(Left: too brown -- Right: too battleship -- Center: just right!)



Friday afternoon, I selected two Super-Deck solid stain colors to give them a try (Charcoal and Black Alder (actually more brown than name implies) plus I brought in the color card from Behr for SW to match for deck color choice testing. Saturday morning I was out on the deck painting swatches, snapped a few pics, and walked with Jeff in the late afternoon & evening for us to see the colors plus make our selection.





One good thing left behind from the previous owners: A stainless steel counter, Jeff anchored to the deck for his grilling space.

The slate color really helps to anchor the back of the house, and works well with the existing grill,  matte black wicker chairs plus the glorious green backdrop of the property now for Spring / Summer - which I'm sure will also work with the grey-browns in the winter.




After the color choice was officially made Saturday, the color info was texted to the deck team. Sunday was time to clear the deck space of furniture, pillows, and plants...




Clearing the Space
Just as with an interior space, an outdoor space too needs to be cleared off before repairs and pressuring cleaning can begin. In a perfect world, the deck would have been repaired and stained earlier in the Spring - before it was filled with furniture and new plants - but that's now how this worked out - and it's OK. The Sunday before the deck team were to arrive (Monday morning) I cleared off the deck space, having first made a plan as to where to "stage" everything being removed. What I was probably most concerned about were the plants.



 Plants acquired during Spring - most from a local nursery closing!
 
Shifting plants to a temporary space requires a little more care than stacking pillows & chairs in a shed. Since these plants were already accustomed to living (and thriving) in shade, the space they moved to needed to be pretty much the same. Since there was an old wood platform nestled in the trees down our backyard slope, Jeff suggested they'd be safe there (Good idea! Love that man!) Before I brought them down to their temporary space, I gave them a lil' TLC, extra water - and yes: I talked to them. Go figure: when I brought them back to the deck 4 days later, they were even a bit larger than they were when I brought them down!



 Proud thrift score in High Point - during market week! Perfect for southern living on the lower deck -- or back porch!



The white wicker set (a Carolina thrift score!!) worked staged in the yard, near the rock garden. Other small accents, pillows and the chaise went into the shed, 4 new outdoor chairs (from Pier 1 for the new dining table) came inside, down to the spare room in the basement. Most of what I cleared was downstairs. Whatever was upstairs, I left for the deck guys to take down - one of which was a new X-leg dining table I got from Home Depot - I was able to refinish before Jeff brought it back up onto the refinished deck. As for the grill, Jeff and I just wheeled into the house (not pretty, but practical!)



Deck Repairs + Staining
Before the deck could be stained, it was in need of some repairs: carpenter bees (nests removed and wholes filled in), stair railing, balustrade railing, and floor boards. Jeff was able to get rid of the carpenter bees and repair their damage. The carpenters replaced damaged deck wood and hauled away removed damaged wood. After these repairs, the deck got a good pressure washing to remove debris, some old paint, and much of the mildew. Since both of these tasks were done Monday  morning, the deck had a good dose of sun for the afternoon to dry well before staining the next day.

 Deck repairs - Upper deck floor boards.



 Of all days for wind gusts - but still a clean end result!



Notice how the tone of the color changed with overcast, mid-day light!


Before & After deck railing & balustrade repair.

 
Although it was a team of three rapidly working on staining the deck - upper balustrade by brush & underside + lattice sprayed on - floors & stairs rolled), summer heat, and sun glare created a few 'ghosts' (just as what can happen with inside painting). This caused two tradesmen to come back an additional day (just the morning) for touch-ups . Most of the glare & ghost touch-ups were needed at the stairs -- because the black slate was a similar color value to the existing half-ass dark brown stain, which was difficult to see in the suns bright light.




Deck Repairs + Low pressure Washing + Staining by:
(local)
Wittmann Home Renewal 
Kernersville, NC
(336) 996-0460





DECK REPAIR & STAINING RECAP & TIPS:
- Plan outdoor spaces / zones / decor (see my planning boards here)
- Tend to minor repairs yourself (purging junk / removing nests)
- Inspected for structural integrity decks 10 years of age -- and check every 3 years afterwards
- Hire a professional for repairs (& larger staining projects) 
- Interview 3 candidates for the job - with your partner
- Ensure estimate + scope of work in writing (including debris haul-away)
- Test 3 colors within the outdoor area
- Communicate with HOA (changes), with partner (design goal), with hired team (expectations)
- Although team will unload deck space, personally give extra care to outdoor plants temporary storage
- After deck is repaired, power-wash and let dry well in sun before staining
- With shoes on, double check lower deck + grass for missed nails & wood-chips
- After deck stained, let it cure for 24 hrs (will be dry to touch, but avoid wetting or walking on + do not put back any plants or furniture)
- Reset deck decor
Enjoy your refreshed outdoor living space with coffee, friends, family - and neighbors!

Sneak Peek 
Refreshed Deck Decor - with secondhand style + a few new finds from HomeGoods!
(outdoor pillows + stripe mugs!)


Now that the deck is finally repaired and stained, it was time to have some fun putting it together for a multi-level outdoor living space! The repairs (for safety & longer deck life) plus a new color (for exterior cohesiveness & updated look) is just what this outdoor space needed to be renewed... for relaxing, for entertaining, and to give the neighbors something a little more pleasing to look at VS. the run-down deck littered with car parts it was when we moved in! 


(Cue the music: "Isn't she lovely?!")
 ick. You've come a long way baby!! THRILLED to pieces this outdoor space is cleaned & clear!



Deck Decor details coming up next!
Thanks for stopping by!




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