Two Story Cottage

Where We Are: The Covered Patio

Dear Friends,

We have been hit with a major heat wave here in the Carolinas.  It has been nearly 100 degrees everyday this week.   That is typical for August but not early June!  It has put a damper on the outdoor activities for sure.  I can usually be found on my porch in the early morning or evening this time of year but it isn’t quite as enjoyable when you sweat in your iced coffee.

Regardless, I’m thankful for a wonderful outdoor space.  We have a teeny tiny yard but our covered patio makes up for it.   Also, our driveway is sizable which is great for the kids.  We are actually in the middle of overhauling the backyard but I thought I’d bring you up to date on the covered space.

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covered_porch_chimney

patio_outdoor

Buddy is as big a fan of the porch as I am.  Hot weather does not seem to bother him – he loves to be outside.

It is a mish mash of furniture – a combination of our old corner porch and screened porch.  I’d never have chosen the magenta with the blue but it brings an eclectic feel which works for me. It is cheerful and I’m happy in my hideaway.

I need that respite more in the summer than any other time.  So it may be triple digit temps with a million percent humidity but you will find me there with the fans on high.

Or not find me because I’m hiding.

-Erin

 

How to Spend an Entire Weekend Hanging your Flag

Dear Friends,

She’s a grand ol’ flag and she is hanging tall and proud.  Mighty indeed and it only took the entire holiday weekend to get her that way.  It seems like one of those “just gitter done” sort of tasks but in this household we like to make things as difficult as humanly possible.

Luckily, we started on Friday with a deadline of Memorial Day.  We had her rocking & rolling by Sunday night, thankfully.  Only 48 hours of drama.

flag_american

The problem is the brick.  We were a little intimidated by the whole drilling with brick deal.  I was all, “we got this” and Mr. C was doubting me but in the end it was a team effort.  He might even get the win because he was better at the difficult drilling.

This required two trips to Lowe’s on our end because we really like to run errands accompanied by sweaty, whiny children while everyone is swimming and grilling out.

curb_appeal_flag

Tips for hanging things in brick:

Hang it in the grout.  That presented a quandary because there were really only two spots where the grout lined up so that we could get all 3 holes of the flag mount in the grout.  One was too low so we had to go with the- higher than I would prefer but not so bad we can’t hang it– height.

Get a masonry drill bit.  That was important.  It still required some elbow grease and a lot of “the hole is deep enough- never mind” but it was doable.

Use masonry anchors with screws – these are a heavier plastic that don’t crush as easily as the flimsy kind you use in drywall.  If your hole is not deep enough and you try to hammer the anchor in than yes, you can still crush it.  Pliers are handy here.  And extra anchors are too.

Brick is uneven so one of the 3 screws isn’t flush but I used it as a pull up bar to ensure that it was sturdy.  Plenty sturdy indeed.  And I can no longer do pull ups, apparently, so I guess the flex arm hang would be my jam now.  I see water aerobics and bingo in my future.

flag_mount_brick

Mr. C & I bonded over flag hanging.  It reminded me of our attempt at curtain rod hanging in our first apartment circa 2002.  That was a laughable fail so we have clearly evolved.

Memories for the win and we are no longer the losers on the street with no patriotic spirit.

Happy Memorial Day!  Despite the tongue & cheek post, we are very thankful for those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

-Erin

P.S.  We provided entertainment for the men remodeling the house across the street.  Despite working on a holiday weekend, I know they had a good time watching our novice attempts at flag hanging.

 

 

 

 

 

Front Porch Spring Update: Wreaths & Flowers

Dear Friends,

Crazy May is here.  We are going full throttle all month but the chaos is balanced by sunshine and warm days.  My front porch was looking a little sad this winter so I decided to work on sprucing it up for spring.  The double doors inspired me to try my hand at making a couple of wreaths.

spring_porch_double_doors

I used this tutorial to whip up some burlap beauties. Honestly, I did a so-so job but nobody will judge me from the road.  That kind of crafting isn’t my forte and I tend to hurry through it.  It wasn’t too terribly hard though.  Michael’s had all of the materials- I used 3 rolls of burlap total which meant roughly 1.5 rolls each but if I could do it again I’d use 2 per wreath.  I bought  two 18 inch wire wreath frames as well which was the perfect size.

wreath_burlap_spring

I’ve had the metal flowers forever but I added a yellow center for a little punch and attached them to the wreath with twine.  I might change them out for the summer with something nautical but I could leave them untouched until September which is nice.

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I also drilled a hole in the bottom of my beverage tub.  It is now a permanent planter which works as I don’t have anywhere inside the house to put it.

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shade_annuals_container

I got rid of the old containers left by the previous owners.  They were nice but worn and faded and it was time for a refresh.  Containers can get a little pricey so I picked up a couple of cheapies at Garden Ridge- now called At Home. I painted the bottoms of the pots with leftover paint in the garage and I love how they turned out.

container_plants_south_shade

elephant ear/dragonwing begonia/coleus/sweet potato plant

I branched out this year with the flowers.  I’ll have to post in a month or so for a progress update.  I tried to mix my annuals up and go for the thriller, chiller, spiller deal.  My porch is primarily shady with a hint of afternoon sun so I have to stick with shade and part sun annuals.  I chose a sweet potato variety that was part sun instead of full sun like most of them.

I also hung out Reid’s upstairs window trying to plant our window box.  Not pictured unfortunately.  I’ll let you know how that goes but I might have to hide from the neighbors for a few days after that escapade.  I’m hoping that they don’t need much care because I’m not up for cirque du soleil.

This time of year I’m a sneezing machine, but I’ll take it because I love all of the beautiful blooming things!  Have you planted spring flowers?

-Erin

 

 

Fall Front Porch

Dear Friends,

Our new little slice of paradise is in a Norman Rockwell type of neighborhood.  So of course, everyone goes all out for Halloween.  People are definitely getting their decorating on and I was excited to jump on the bandwagon. Call it keeping up with the Joneses or consider me inspired but I want to have a fun, fall front porch.  Without spending much dough.

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Giant mums have taken over our street but I’m a total cheap-0 when it comes to seasonal flowers. I would have had to spend about $50 to have a mumfest so instead I bought two little ones from Walmart for $3.98 a piece.  Honestly, that size isn’t that different from the $10 size so consider it a bogo.

fall_porch

Also, my summer flowers are looking pretty fab right about now.  I bought those on clearance at a nursery in July and they have far and above exceeded my expectations.  I believe it is a combination of coleus and sweet potato vine with one more random cabbage-looking plant.   How is that for landscape lingo?

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We haven’t been to the pumpkin patch yet so there will be more pumpkins in the near future. Usually by Halloween, we have become collectors with all of the free festival and school pumpkins.

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door_lantern

That lantern was a fall clearance item from Target. The candle is solar which is kind of fun.  No melting wax to deal with.  Sometimes fake is a good thing.

fall_porch

Because my house is built up on a little hill, I had to take pictures on a stepladder.   When I came back in, I realized that I didn’t change my lens for the wide angle shots so forgive the blurred effect.  I just could not do the crazy woman balancing on a ladder, taking photos of her decorations act again.  For some reason there were all kinds of dog walkers, landscapers, and baby jogging folks parading through the usual morning quiet.    I’m sure they think I am weird but I guess it is better that they know now.

Weird chicks rule anyhow.

-Erin

 

 

Outdoor Rug Round-Up

Dear Friends,

Saturday morning we had a yard sale followed by a baby shower, both of which were at our house .  It was a record for-the-books marathon day and as much as I enjoyed it, I’m not sure I could do all that again.  Of course, the baby shower was sweet and fun and I can’t wait to share pictures!

Luckily, it was a beautiful day so guests were able to enjoy our porches.   My Houzz post of the month is a round-up of outdoor rugs and I have to say I’m a fan.  I think a rug can really help establish an outdoor living room which is difficult in a wide-open space without formal boundaries.  Also, they are a fun way to add color or just to give an old space an update.

outdoor_rugs_collage

I’ve got twenty options for you to browse at Houzz.  I included modern, traditional, colorful, and neutral rugs so there should be something for everyone.

outdoor_rugs_porch

Do you have an outdoor rug?  I have three – one on the corner porch, one on the screened porch, and one in the breakfast area.   The easy to clean aspect and durability are a win in my book.

-Erin

 

 

Porch Updates

Dear Friends,

I thought it was supposed to be warm over the weekend so we had plans to get a head start on porch cleaning.  We did but nearly froze to death in the process.  The temperature was somewhat mild but the wind and lack of sun made for chilly weather.  Luckily, we are supposed to see some spring this week.  Either way, we basically did a wash n’ go where we rinsed everything without spending much time on it.

Pollen will hit eventually so I wanted the winter dirt off of everything first.  Also, I wanted to be able to use the porches again – if it ever warms up.  Seriously, I can’t remember such a serious lack of spring in past years.

Enough of the Monday whining – I did do a little rearranging on our side porch.  You know how it is when you are cleaning -you move everything and then of course I got the bug to do a little switching around.

cart_world_market

I brought our World Market console table outside.  It has been in our back entry hall for at least a year now but it is kind of a space hog.  I had though about moving it to the porch and I’m glad I did!  It seems pretty weather resistant but time will tell.

Our original kitchen table had been sitting out there but it is back in the breakfast room now. My in-laws’ table is back with them where it belongs so I had an empty space to contend with. Can we say musical furniture?   That W.M. table has moved from behind the family room couch, to the hall, and to the porch.

colorful_porch

I’d like to spray paint that sun a fun color.  It has been outdoors for over a decade.  Any ideas? The purple pot was something we found when cleaning out my grandmother’s house and I grabbed it, figuring I could use it somewhere.  Of course, I plan on planting something if it ever warms up. The bird house is another ancient item.

corner_porch_purple

I like our cozy side porch and I can’t wait to spend some time snuggled up out there.  My goal is to plant my behind onto one of those chairs at some point this week.

-Erin

 

 

 

Colorful Outdoor Space, before & after

Dear Friends,

Last week, I introduced you to my sister’s deck via her staining project.  This week, I want to show you the final product, trappings included.  A deck is just a pile of wood without the furniture and decor!  I think Emily did an excellent job of bargain-hunting and balancing color.  I love the bright feel it brings to the backyard.

cozy_colorful_deck

I am enamored with that bistro table- a wedding gift from years ago.  They traded in the gray metal chairs for those yellow beauties from World Market.  What a difference it makes!

Before_deck

Yep, that is the same house.  The existing deck covers the sidewalk, steps, and front stoop making it a straight shot in the back door.  There wasn’t much they could do with this space, previously, especially considering the downhill.

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The deck really changes the landscape of the backyard.  Hello, entertaining space!

lowes_chair_deck

Andrew & Emily bought a chair & ottoman set from Lowe’s that has a cool feature.  The chairs can hook together to become a love-seat!  It gives them a lot of flexibility depending on what they are using the deck for.

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I wish I could get a better shot of the lights that they strung!  What a gorgeous area it will be at night.   Those cushions are fun too.

built_in_benches_deck

The built-in benches maximize the seating for any occasion!  The bench wraps all the way around the side of the deck. They are attractive also which is a bonus.  They plan on hosting cook-outs, tailgate parties, and bonfires using the portable fire pit.  I love how versatile the space is!

Well, there you have it.   A unique deck that is ready for action.  We have had a sudden heat wave here, but I have my fingers crossed for a cooler weekend.  I’m itching to spend time on my own porch!

TGIF!

-Erin

 

Cleaning the Porch Floor {Fast!}

Dear Friends,

I’ve talked, maybe even whined about cleaning the screened porch floor.  We do a big clean-up at the beginning of spring but afterward I have a hard time keeping the tile decent.  I’d like my kids to play with the chalkboard table without contracting black feet in the process.

It happens.

Enter my new friend, the HomeRight deck brush.  Hello, hose and broom in one.  I rarely ever review products on here but when HomeRight came calling I saw that this baby had my name on it.

home_right_deck_washer

And it works.   For real.

Homeright_review_deck

Yesterday, I went from the brush in the box to a cleaned porch floor in about 30 minutes.  And that was with my little helper who is known to slow things down a bit.   Next time, I plan to use the telescoping feature and attack the screens and walls.

home_right_dirt_collage

Check out the dirt going out of my rug.  Yikes but yay!  Clearly I am a filthy human being.   The soap dispenser attachment took care of that hidden dirt.

I got wet feet but stayed dry without water spraying everywhere.  The last time I cleaned the porch I was soaked from head to toe because my hose likes to get all tangled up and intermittently spray me with water.

It happens.  Hoses are kin to the devil for sure.

The deck brush had a nice little turn off valve that allowed me to turn the water on and off from the broom.  It kind of rocks. This is perfect for me because I can do it without Mr. C. Usually we need someone to spray the hose and another person to push the water out with the broom.

Mr. C, you just got saved.

I’m a happy camper with a clean screened porch floor.   Clean feet, happy Mom.

TGIF!

-Erin

 This review was in exchange for the product and all opinions are my own.

 

Hang it on Brick! A Simple Solution

Dear Friends,

For nearly two years, I have had things leaning on the corner porch waiting to be hung. It didn’t really bother me to be honest. Until last week. And suddenly, those things mocked me. The whispers tortured me until I stopped by Lowe’s to figure out how to remedy the situation.

hang_me_brick

Yes, I hear voices.

Yes, I could have drilled into the mortar with the right drill bit.

I was looking for a different solution that wasn’t quite so drastic. After all, I’ve been known to move things and who wants a bunch of holes in their brick?

Enter my solution.  The no-tools required brick clip.

brick_hangers_no_drill

The brick hangers snap in and use gravity to hang anything 30 lbs or less. They fit with any size brick as long as there is close to the standard 1/2 inch between bricks. My brick was tricky. I had to fiddle with the brads to get it to snap in.  On the porch wall, the masonry isn’t very deep which made it harder to wedge in there.  Once I got it though, it was a cinch. The other two went quickly.  It was just a matter of understanding the concept.

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1. The brads clip in at an angle but you have to adjust them for your brick.  Mine were at different angles as my brick is uneven.

2. Voila!  You can see the brads wedged in and adjusted at each side.

3. It works!

porch_storage_brick_clips

Those are some cute miniature corn hole boards, huh?  My sister and her husband made those for the kids for Christmas.  They love them!   A bit of storage is convenient on the porch because we play a lot in the backyard.  Making trips to the garage through the house is a pain. Keeping a few things out back works for us.

brick_painting_clip

That table resides on the porch because it had no where else to go.  I haven’t the heart to get rid of it so it has sat in that spot for a while.  I’m thinking about making over a bench to complete the look.  It is handy for setting out food buffet-style.

Do you have any nagging to-do items this summer?

-Erin

 

 

 

 

 

Chairs for the Porch

Dear Friends,

finally bit the bullet and bought chairs for the porch.  The chalkboard coffee table prompted me to finish off the space and I didn’t really want to wait for end of summer clearance.  Pier One had a sale right around Memorial Day that sealed the deal. I needed small scale chairs and in the words of Goldilocks, these were “just right. ”

screened_porch_decor

porch_pier_one_chairs

I debated on the color for a good ten minutes until my family lost patience, and I finally just had to go with my gut.

I was tempted by the crazy colorful choices that they have this year.  Yellow and purple, oh my.  However, I wasn’t really looking for the chairs to stand out in this scenario so I went for the island look instead.

mirror_porch

I’m indecisive so I was also waffling on which chairs to get.  I’m so glad I got one smaller stacking chair to go with the larger one.   I like having the variety but it suits the space.  Also, that chair can easily be moved outdoors or wherever which is a plus.

Yes, those mirrors are what used to be in the kitchen.  They sun hit them in the morning and the reflection drove me crazy so I finally moved them.

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I chose blue cushions because I have nineteen different colors of blue on the porch.  Why not one more?  Any of the lighter cushions felt like they would stand out.   Or get insanely dirty.

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And for the rarely seen side of the porch.  The table, chairs , and cushions are now eleven years old but I couldn’t be happier with them.  They are Pottery Barn and cost a bundle at the time but I’d invest again knowing that I’m still using the cushions after a decade.

I’m as pleased as can be now that I have a fully functioning porch.  I still plan on centering the rug a little more but I’m not going to even mess with moving it until after we hose it off again. I also need to tackle the dirty settee cushions.  I’m a little more driven to clean now that we actually use the space.

I love escaping out there when the kids are having rest time in the afternoon.   I know we are going to spend a lot of time in this room!  It really feels like an extension of the house.

-Erin

 

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