Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When Plans Get Derailed

July is such a gorgeous month. A perfect time to tackle outdoor projects. To freshen up a new, yet worn, deck. The perfect time to put finishing touches on the front landscape, and forget about the weed fest that is our backyard.  The great outdoors has seen some great progress.

Because it's summer, I hadn't intended on working on many major indoor projects. {My attention is mainly focused on three boys.} Until something magical happened.  After months on Craigslist I finally sold both my bed frame and mattress!  On the same day! I was excited to start working on this neglected room of ours, but just as quick as the money came in, it left again.  The house AC malfunctioned. Then the AC in the "new" car died. Traveling soccer dues were...due.  Isn't that how life goes? You finally have money set aside for something to give you pleasure {or in our case, a comfortable, inviting bed},and something functional breaks or your kids outgrow their wardrobe.

Our dreams of an impromptu master bedroom makeover got derailed.

See that! That's an air mattress we are sleeping on perched up on our old sleep number platform. Woopee!

See the under bed storage being used as a nightstand? Awesome!

The shade-less lightbulb-less bedside lamps perched in the corner? Super! 

The, um, bench dresser? Fantastic!

{I hope you noted the sarcasm. Are you wondering why my husband still loves me?}

Good thing we are flexible, and have experience in living minimal in order to start fresh.  We have learned to laugh through these experiences, and of how we will always remember the month we slept on an air mattress, even though our backs will remind us. I know it will help us to appreciate it more when we finally do finish it. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Stoli® Lemon-ade - A Refreshing, Versatile Summer Cocktail

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of STOLI® Vodka for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

One of my all time favorite summertime drinks is lemonade. As a kid, we learned business skills pushing lemonade to passerby's for a quarter at our lemonade stands. You didn't even need to use quality ingredients, just a little of your Mom's lemonade powder, water, a few glasses and POOF - money maker! Though we all know you drank half of your product yourself and refused to share your profits evenly with the neighbor kids, right?

Now I'm all grown up, and so is my lemonade. These days, not only do I prefer to make my lemonade from REAL lemons - but I prefer to make it into a refreshing summer cocktail, to be enjoyed in the sunshine!  I was recently introduced to Stoli® Vodka during last week's 4th of July celebrations, so I am excited to share them with you!

Considered a trail-blazer in the vodka industry, Stoli® Vodka is the original premium vodka and defines the benchmark for quality with meticulously crafted liquid that meets the highest Alpha Spirit standard.  Stoli® Vodka is positioning the Lemonade cocktail as the must-have drink of the season as it launches the “100 Days to Squeeze” campaign. Celebrating a fresh twist on the classic summer cocktail, the original vodka brand will highlight the cocktail’s versatility and infusion of local ingredients using its renowned flavor portfolio of Stoli® Ohranj™, Stoli® Citros™, Stoli® Razberi™ and Stoli® Blueberi™. 

It all starts with this simple basic cocktail recipe for a Stoli® Lemon-ade:

- 2 parts Stolichnaya® Vodka 
- 4 parts lemonade 
- Build in an ice-filled Mason jar or highball glass and stir. 
- Garnish with lemon wheels

I can attest that the smooth grain taste of Stoli® Vodka pairs perfectly with the tart and sweet notes of a crisp, ice cold lemonade. You can make it your own with Premium Stoli® Vodka, or one of the other Stoli® Vodka flavors. And example - have raspberry bushes? Pluck a small handful, place them in a mason jar with a few leaves of fresh thyme, muddle them with the end of a wooden spoon, and follow the Stoli® Lemon-ade recipe above. Garnish with a couple of plump raspberries.  No garden?  Head to your local farm stand for your favorite in-season fruits and herbs to make it your own! (I'm thinking strawberries and basil!)

Stoli® Vodka's "100 Days to Squeeze" campaign encourages you to squeeze the most out of your summer by stopping by one of their Stoli-branded lemonade trucks or national Stoli® Lemon-ade bar night events across the nation including: Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, New York, and New Jersey. The trucks, deemed ‘limo-nades’, will head out across the country to sample Stoli® Lemon-ade cocktails, serve refreshing flavored Lemonade ice pops, and daring consumers to take part in fun summer challenges to win Stoli® Lemon-ade prizes.  In addition, Stoli® has created unique value-added packs (VAPs), complete with the iconic glass mason jar and lemon squeezer, to make it easy for consumers to serve their own cocktails at summertime events. Available at off-premise locations across the nation, the VAP will also include a 750mL bottle of Stoli® Vodka. 

 photo Stoli_600360_2_zps9bbbc27f.jpg

So grab a neighbor or friend, and come join the festivities! Squeeze the most out of summer and head to Thrillist or visit the Stoli® Facebook page to find out more!  Follow Stoli® on Twitter for details on the #StoliLemonade trucks and share your summer moments using #StoliLemonade on Twitter and Instagram. Join us on Facebook to squeeze the most out of summer with Stoli®.  

Where do you plan to have some fun in the sun with a Stoli® Lemonade in hand? 

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As with any cocktail, please remember to drink responsibly, like your mother told you to. Or else. 

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Deck Face Lift || DeckOver by Behr

Nothing beats a grand paint transformation. One example - the turquoise (yes, turquoise) house across the street that was painted beige a couple weeks ago. Win for us!

We shouldn't talk. Our house had seen better days before it was given new life, and part of that transformation was a blue-gray vinyl siding, as well as vinyl deck rails in almond to match the trim. It was also given a cedar front porch, to which last year we added a large cedar deck out back.

Now, I love me some cedar. Natural wood grains aren't meant to be covered up! But our cedar decking in the past year, despite proper protection, is looking worn and weathered.  The front deck is dirty and water stained. The back deck gets so much direct sunlight the stain basically evaporated, and is cracking from the heat. 

So we, GULP, decided to paint the brand new deck.

It wasn't with any old paint though - we chose DeckOver by Behr in Padre Brown. Okay...first in Walnut, but then in Padre Brown. It wouldn't be a paint project in our house if I didn't change my mind after the first application.

DeckOver gave our deck some much needed love:

1) It added a little texture so our guests (okay, and me) won't slip and slide all over the deck boards. Win!

2) It sealed some of the small cracks and splinters, protecting our precious feet from slivers. And I save myself the agony of having to restrain my children to dig them out.

3) It gave our deck a little personality. We chose Padre Brown to compliment the gray blue siding, almond rails and trim, and to tie in the brown vinyl accents and roof.

A quick taping of the edges and two easy (Okay, NOT easy. More like uncomfortable. Knees on the deck - ouch) coats later, we have a beautiful "new" deck.

A couple minor issues:

1) We didn't remove the edging tape between coats, so the paint pulled up in a couple spots because it had dried. 

2) The paint does not go easily between the deck boards, so you can still see cedar in some spots. Perhaps we used the wrong roller (we used what was suggested by the Home Depot), but we think we can find a narrow brush and quickly go between the slats.

3)In the back, it was hard to apply in the sun without caking up on us a little. It's thick like hot fudge and dries quickly. To remedy that sticky (pun!) situation, I used a patio umbrella turned on it's side to shade me as I worked. Or better yet, we could have waited until cooler weather without issue.

4) Oh yes, the fumes. Not bad because you are outside, but wear a mask.

5) Footprints show up because of our color choice. 

We LOVE how it turned out! The chairs will stay off a big while it cures, but for now, there is plenty of room on the front walk to lounge. 

The last coat went on the back deck today and is drying as I type.  Next we add railings to the top tier, which I plan to paint to match the trim and front rails. I'm thinking about painting the side boards of the deck and stairs to break up the brown a bit, which I have seen on other houses and love.

 Now all I need is to save up for a beautiful outdoor rug, a couple chairs, love seat, and coffee table in rattan to complete the front! In the meantime, there are still a few inexpensive updates to do. Stay tuned for those and how the paint is holding up to a family of five!

NEW! Follow along on Instagram!

*This is NOT a sponsored post.*

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Landscaping Update // Flowers & Backyard Plans

The view from the sofa is getting quite pretty. It's nice to see the fruits of sweaty landscaping labor.

Like these Asiatic lillies. I bought this plant off of the clearance shelf at Home Depot for a $1 last year, after the flowers fell off. Not knowing what it looked like, I threw it in the ground to add some height in a bald spot in the landscape. 

I love happy surprises!
Especially for a dollar.

And these flowers who bloom in stages starting like this...

and ending like this...


We finished the landscape border around the back to the deck.

Too mosquito-y to landscape, I threw in a pumpkin plant, which seems to be enjoying it's home.

Back on the still-unfinished deck, I got smart and added this mandevilla, keeping guests from banging their heads on the sharp, unfortunate overhand from the second floor.

It loves the heat and sun back here and is constantly flowering. I love the thick tropical green leaves that we don't usually get to enjoy here in Minnesota.

I shared on Instagram (welcome me, I'm brand new!), but my husband got my son involved clearing out the tree line to freshen up the hill in the backyard.

(As always, saving before doing.)

1. Paint or stain decking, as well as add railings and stairs for the deck. Also, finishing touches to hide underneath and keep the critters out.

(Can you share your experiences with me: paint vs. stain for decking? Our deck gets HOT direct sun in the summer and the stain from last year literally disappeared in two months, thanks!)

2. SOD. TONS OF SOD. We've determined the best way to tackle the thick weeds that dominate the side and back yards is to sod over them. Come fall, we will remove the top layer (all weeds), lay down fresh black dirt, and sod everything. Come spring - our ultimate goal is to have grass everywhere! A dream!

3. Add a dwarf tree behind the kitchen window. I would like something pretty to add to the landscape back here, and something to watch grow as we live here!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dining Nook Victory!

My home is celebrating a teeny victory today -
the removal of folding chairs in the dining nook.
Hooray for small upgrades!!!

Upgrade: Carlisle Dining Chair in Black from Target.
Bonus: $29.99 for the pair at my local store!

They were a lot smaller in scale than I thought, but it's perfect for now and perfect for using elsewhere in my house at a later time! 
{The other is in the office nook, thank you Mallory for your thoughts!}

In celebration, I picked up this beautiful white serving bowl from a resale shop for the kitchen. Can't you just see it filled with a colorful fruit salad?!? 
(It's simple joys people!) 

Until that is, I brought it home to see that on the bottom, it proclaimed that food consumed from the vessel could no longer be deemed safe to eat.

So a beautiful bowl to hold colorful napkins (or other non-consumables) it is!