Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Quick and Easy (and Adorable) Fourth Ideas!

I'm so excited about these quick festive Fourth of July projects I threw together for our kitchen the other day! I find great joy in decorating our home but when it happens easily and quickly (and cheaply), I get super giddy. :)

It started with a cute Fourth of July banner in the dollar bin at Target last week. It was three bucks and just adorable. I couldn't pass it up, as with most things in that section. I wasn't sure where I was going to hang it until I opened it up in the kitchen and looked at the bay window:

Fourth of July bunting

It's the absolute perfect size for that spot. It would be easy to make one of these yourself too! You can see the candy corn one I made for fall (and the pennant template I used) here. It would be hard to make it for less than $3 though -- I so wish I had gotten more of these!:

Fourth of July pennants

My second quick project involved an old sweater that I've held on to for years in order to do this project. Literally every year in about September I'll find this in a craft drawer and remember that I meant to do this the previous July. 

I finally remembered!: 

holiday pillow from sweater

I cut out the front and the back of it (it had a stain on the front that I was able to avoid), sewed it up super fast and stuffed a pillow inside: 

sweater pillow

Adorable! It only took me five years to remember to do it!! Check out Goodwill for something similar or Target also had some adorable bandanas in the dollar section that would make super cute pillows too. Dang, wish I had thought of that earlier. :) (Those would also be cute to use for a DIY bunting as well.)

Here's the bay window seat all dressed up for the holiday: 

window seat

This last project I saw while scrolling through Facebook -- it was just a photo and didn't have any source unfortunately. I had everything on hand so this one was free and super easy. I grabbed some little flags we had: 


I removed the flags from the sticks, then put a bit of sand in a few mason jars. I dropped an LED candle in each one and wrapped the flags around the back: 
Fourth of July candle ideas

What a great idea for a Fourth cookout! 

I used some LED candles we have on a remote but if you just have the regular ones you may want to pile the sand a little higher. :) I absolutely love these!: 

4th of July easy candle

And finally, I combined white, blue and pink hydrangeas for a festive display in the kitchen: 
red white and pink hydrangeas

You know I had to incorporate them somehow, duh. That pink bloom was so big it barely fit in there! 

There you go -- simple, inexpensive Fourth of July ideas! I don't like to spend a lot on stuff I'll only have out for a week or so and these are perfect. And in total I spent maybe 30 minutes putting it all together. Love!

Do you do any simple Fourth of July projects this time of year? 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Backyard Tour, 2015!

Well hello there! I've got a ton of pics for you today! I figured since it's rained approximately 20 out of the past 22 days, I'd share the backyard garden tour now. Everything is CRAZY lush and full and it's insane how much everything is growing right now. 

I've shared this tour for the past few years and I love showing off our backyard. I've worked crazy hard on it! Gardening is a passion of mine and I love adding to it every year. We picked this lot for the tree line behind the house, but the yard itself had quite a slope to it. The size was great, it's just with the slope it was hard to do much with it. The first thing we did was have a huge deck built on the back about a year after we moved in. 

Then years ago after we paid off our massive debt and had saved up for months, we added our first big project to this house in the form of a stone patio and a fireplace. We live in a neighborhood with houses right next to us on both sides but our backyard feels like a true, private oasis. We absolutely LOVE it. 

The latest addition was just a few weeks ago when we had the pergola built. Other than staining that and the deck later this fall we are done with big projects out here. :) 

The plants were all picked by me and most were planted by me as well. This is the view as you come around the side of our house: 

black mulch in garden

I have to show you how much everything has grown! This was that same view last year: 

backyard garden

If I had waited just another week or so, that hydrangea bush would be blooming like mad again. :)

But do you see how much the maples have grown?? We need to do some serious trimming because between the hydrangea growing bigger than ever and the trees, we can barely walk through there. 

This is what cracks me up about those trees -- they used to sit in the front yard and would NOT grow. They would grow all oompa loompa like with the leaves right up the middle and nothing else. We replaced them a long time ago and had them planted back here and after a year they absolutely shot up. They are huge now -- almost taller than the house. For a lot that's only a little over eleven years old I love having tall trees like these: 

backyard garden dark mulch
Those burning bushes were actually bigger than that a couple years ago, but during a really harsh winter a couple seasons ago, the snow was piled up to the top of them and the bunnies ate them down to the ground. We weren't even sure they would survive. It was insane how much damage they did -- that winter sucked. :)

I found this old pic to show you how different this area looks now: 

The trees have grown ten feet in four years, easy. 

One of my favorite things to do every day or two is walk around the garden and check out the blooms on the plants. This limelight hydrangea is one of my favorites and I've been watching for blooms: 

limelight hydrangea

I didn't check on it for a few days because of rain and I went out over the weekend to see it -- I couldn't even believe how much it had grown. It is MASSIVE. I literally stood out there and gasped because it had grown about two feet wider. And there are a ton of blooms -- it's going to be gorgeous this year! 

Here's the size of it last month to give you an idea how much it's grown in all this rain: 

The pergola is our pride and joy right now. We didn't build it but it's still our pride and joy. Ha! I did end up changing the design of the outdoor lights: 
pergola on deck
I shared more about the lights and how much we love them here. One of my readers shared how they hung theirs like this and the more I looked at it the more I liked it. It was SO much easier to install this way too -- I just used nails for now (there's a hole on each light for installation). I did some measurements and the two strands covered the beams exactly. This way they'll be much easier to remove when we stain too. 

My peony is done blooming but I always keep the green till next spring. You'll notice a trend as we walk around the garden. Hydrangeas. And more hydrangeas. 

I'm obsessed: 

wood pergola with lights

Another favorite of mine are knock out roses. I was late in pruning this year so this one isn't nearly as big as in years past. I love that they are constantly blooming and giving the backyard color: 

knock out roses

One of my favorite spots is down around the corner behind the fireplace. Years back I planted the two pee gee hydrangea trees and they are my favorite. (I say that about a lot of things back here but I really dig these.) The blooms get absolutely massive. It will be July before we'll see flowers on there: 

hydrangeas in landscaping

They are cone-shaped white blooms that turn the most gorgeous pinkish green in the fall. I adore them. 

I planted a climbing hydrangea years ago and it's never bloomed -- fingers crossed for next year. I love that it creeps up the stone though.

Around the corner from there are…wait for it. Hydrangeas: 

lacecap hydrangeas

I have close to 20 now between the back and front. I can't get enough. Every year it is an ongoing struggle for me -- I want to cut off the blooms and bring them all inside. But they bring me so much joy out here too, even if it's just us that sees them most of the time. 

Here's a view from the bottom of our yard up to the house: 

deck and patio in backyard

I say the bottom because of the slope back there. I think they told us it was like ten feet down from the back of the house. We don't have much to mow but it is a workout with the steep grade. 

Around the corner from the back is the playset and my butterfly garden. :) I started it last year and finished it up last month: 

patio with pergola
I haven't seen many butterflies yet, but at at least it's all growing! 

One of my favorite parts of the backyard are the natural looking stones in the landscaping. A friend of ours did the hardscaping (and the patio) and they did such a beautiful job:
rocks as stepping stones

The fireplace was a splurge -- it is absolutely wonderful on fall evenings: 

stone fireplace outside

We use it throughout the summer on cooler nights too. 

We have a ton of entertaining space out here -- it really is a dream come true to have this beautiful backyard. I use my DIY potting bench all the time for planting, but it's also the perfect spot for food and drinks when we entertain out here: 

DIY potting bench

Some of you wanted to see how the pergola fit in with the rest of the patio and hopefully this helps give you an idea: 

patio with fireplace

This was that view years ago before the patio was built: 


Look at my baby! So little!! Sniff. 

Around the other side I have more knock out bushes and one of my newest favorites -- the lamb's ear: 


Those are growing like mad this year too and for the first time have flowers! I had no idea they flowered -- they are the coolest plants (and great in full sun). 

Well that's the tour for you this year. Whew! I cut this down from well over 100 pics. I kind of love it. :) Every year I add a little more to the landscaping -- this year it was the butterfly garden. I'll have to show you more of that when everything is blooming. I have only purchased ONE hydrangea this year and that is for the front of the house, so be proud of me. :) 

I hope you enjoyed the tour! We are crazy lucky to have this space and thoroughly enjoy it. I'll share the pergola again later in early fall when we are able to stain it: 

pergola on deck

If you have questions about anything please feel free to ask! To see last year's tour of the backyard go here and to see how much it's changed since we had the patio put in four years ago, go here. (Even I was surprised at how different the landscaping looks!)