Chillin' at CRT on Xpu Ha Beach

Chillin' at CRT on Xpu Ha Beach
How I'd spend every day if I weren't redecorating, cooking, sewing and blogging!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mini-projects with shells, sand and candles

Long before I started on the Beachy summer decorating project around my house, I had put together a little sand/shell/citronella candle thing for the patio.  It was cute, even thought it was just in the bottom half of an old canister, but it was shallow, so the candles blew out with the slightest breeze.  I thought the solution would be a deeper glass container.

I found several at stores priced from $10 to $15, but since I already had the jute stringy stuff most of the ones I liked were wrapped with I just purchased a plain glass container and put the string on myself.,

There are were many choices available at my regular discount haunts like Marshalls and Ross but I liked this plain one.

I did need one other supply - scissors!  Which I forgot about until time to cut the string. 
The plastic bag contains my last two citronella tea candles.
I started by using a drop of hot glue to attached the jute string.


Then I just wrapped it around until I was happy with the number of layers and then glued the other end to cover where I started so it was all nice and neat.


Then I placed the candles, sand and shells inside and took it out by the pool for a photo shoot.


I think this will stay lit even when the wind blows and it is SO much more attractive, plus I only spend $4 for the glass container.  Everything else I already had around the house.

While I had out the jute string, hot glue and shells I made little tassels for these candles to complete my "to do" list on the beachy decorationg.  Just a drop of glue on each shell to attached them to the jute.



These gold candlesticks have been around my house FORVER and I love 'em, but was getting kinda tired of the gold.  So while I was working on the beachy theme I decided to give these a dry brush of toasted marshallow chalk paint leftover from my French desk.  Sweet!




Looking good with my beach mantle decor in the background


The living room has been a work in progress since we moved in and it's nearing completion!  Is that possible? 

I would have no TV in this room which I use for reading and visiting with family and friends, but I live with a MAN (and love it) so that's not happening. 
A BIG television is in the future for this room, because we need 3 large TVs in our house, of course. 
Also I keep toying with the idea of getting rid of the very very old piano, but my kids are generally opposed to that idea.


We're finally going to move forward with the side yard project - oh yippee!  Poor SuperDave (and poor me) - we got I got us sidetracked until the temps hit the triple digits.  But at least we can jump in the pool to keep us from dying of heat stroke while we are working, right?  I'll be so glad to wrap that project up that maybe it will be worth it.


Much Love & Laughter,

Laura


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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Soft (fast & easy) Place in the Shade

What happened to June?  Where did it go?  Now we've got two months of brutally HOT weather ahead which makes hanging out on the patio not nearly so much fun - unless you are in the pool or just got out of the pool to lie under an umbrella.


When I'm hanging out by the pool what I need is a comfy place to sit and read until I get too hot and need to jump back into the water.  My chaise lounge chairs under an umbrella make a nice spot to sit, but the covers have gotten scratchy from being outside in the weather.  They are fading too but I'm not quite ready to shell out $100 for two new ones so it's time to get creative.


I decided a good way to make them soft to lie on would be to slip cover them with a 100% cotton towel, which could then be removed for easy washing.  I know these will fade too but as they are used and washed repeatedly they will only get softer (at least that is my plan).  I'm taking credit for this idea as all my own.  I'm sure it's been done, but I didn't see it anywhere else, just pulled it out of my brain.


I halfheartedly checked the fabric store but didn't find anything thrilling - plus starting from an unhemmed piece of cloth would have meant much more work for me.  And I was looking for Fast & Easy.


I stopped into World Market a few days ago and they had 60" x 70" beach towels marked 30% off, plus they let me use a coupon (which I pulled up on my phone - I LOVE this), I paid about $31 for two giant towels that were originally priced at $50 for the pair.




I folded them with the right sides together and sewed up the long side and one short end.  After sewing the first one I decided to leave an opening at the corners to pull the ties through so I can still tie the cushion to the chair at the top.  I used a long stitch in case I want to take the seam out later for some reason.  I did not make them fitted to the size of the cushion - I made them as big as the towel would allow.  It was hard enough to get them on the cushions.  SuperDave's tip is put it on the cushion like you put on a sock. You know, scrunch it up all together and fit it over the end then pull it up.




Sewing each one took about 5 minutes.  Putting them ON the cushion took me at least another 5 minutes.  The sewing was easier than wrestling the cushion into the slipcover.



Soft and absorbent!  And colorful until the sun does a number on them :(

One note - my towels were not quite long enough to completely cover the cushion I have about 4 or 5 inches showing - but it is a slipcover for comfort not a custom reupholstery of the cushion, so I'm okay with it.  My chairs are sadly in need of repainting or replacing.  I've got so many other painting projects on my list I'm thinking replacement -  the feet are beginning to rust - maybe next year!

Much Love & Laughter,




Laura

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pictures That Make Me Smile - Patio Cats

If you've read more than a couple of my posts you know I love outside, especially hanging in my very own backyard. I'm often joined there by friends and family members.

Here are two pictures of family members hanging with me in the backyard.

I'll classify these "Classic Painting Photos" as a set of two called Patio Cats.

Kitty on Pillow
Of course, Prince Obi, finds a nice plush spot to lie down even when on the patio.


Texas Kitty
 
My daughter, Sara, gave me this Texas stepping stone.
Chewie loves to lie on it, I suppose it's warm from the sun.

Much Love & Laughter,

 Laura

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Love Summer

I love summer, really I do, even though the 100 degree temps forecast for next week are not my favorite.  But I do love the warm weather.  One reason is because my yard comes alive with fast growing plants and flowers.  I walk out into my outdoor room and it's a little more beautiful every day.









We've had an exceptionally wet spring and everything is very green!  Even the front yard looks awesome and lush.


The only thing that hasn't really taken off is my Knockout Roses, but they are new.  I think they need some food.  (add to my "to do" list)

Also, the pool is getting warmer - it's still cool, especially after the rain, but on a sunny day or after some yard work it feels great.  And if the evening is cool I just heat up the spa and sit in the warm bubbly water!

There it is, my own little piece of summer paradise, right out the kitchen window.


Much Love & Laughter,


Laura

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Monday, June 18, 2012

The Great Vacation Disaster

As I scroll through my posts on my Facebook wall it becomes  very apparent that many of my friends are off on a summer time adventure.  This is a very good thing.  But I would like to remind everyone to be careful out there, because sometimes things change in a moment and you may never be the same.

My family loves water and in Oklahoma there is plenty of it, over 55,000 MILES of shoreline - pretty amazing for a landlocked state!  There are more than 200 man made lakes alone in Oklahoma and some truly beautiful scenery.  There are also scenic rivers popular for canoe trips.

A few years ago we decided to visit family and friends in Oklahoma for a week as our vacation and work in some site seeing along the way.

We planned to visit my in-laws, the Myriad Botanical Gardens and the Bricktown area in Oklahoma City.  We would go boating with my brother and my nieces, visit some lifelong friends in Fairland, OK and take a trip down the Illinois River in canoes with my niece and her kids.  We would finish up with a couple of days in a cabin at Lake Tenkiller and a then day with my parents before coming home.

We should have probably just cancelled our trip when our cat got sick a couple days prior to departure. After several days of visiting the vet, finding out the cat has diabetes and many tears we made the decision that seemed best for him (but sad for us) and said goodbye to a sweet bi-polar feline friend. Please don't take that the wrong way - we loved our Yoda kitty but he was a rascal.


Yoda (left) lounging on the patio with Obi

After losing a pet we really weren't in vacation mode, but we decided to go forward with the remaining days of our trip.

The first few days were a lot of fun, we visited the botanical garden and went to to the lake with my brother and his daughters for some tubing.  From there we spent a day with our friends from WAY back before we were married.  The trip was going well.


Then we got up and headed for the river for a day of canoeing.  (Insert the creepy music here)

On the way we got a call on the (stupid) cell phone from our neighbor next door.  A tree in our front yard had blown down in a high wind and landed on our house, his gutter and an ugly overgrown shrub in his yard.  But nothing too serious, so we could deal with it when we got home.  (There is a whole story about my neighbor and how he reacted after the tree bent a 12" section of his gutter but I don't wish to tell nasty tales on someone who live next door to me.)

We met up with my niece and he two kiddos and rented two canoes and set out for a 12 miles trip down river.  It was a beautiful day, the water was not too high and we were virtually alone on the river - which seemed good at the beginning.


We made the first 6 miles with no problem, stopped for lunch and set out for the next 6 miles.  We got about 4 miles more down river when the weather started looking stormy. So we paddled hard running for the end of the trip.  Our REAL trouble started with the first sharp bend shown in the photo below where a large tree had fallen into the river. 


Photo Credit
 SuperDave, my baby girl and my great nephew made it around the curve even though it was hard paddling.  The river was NARROW, made a HAIRPIN curve, AND there was a big tree in the water.  That's a recipe for trouble people.


As my niece, her daughter and I rounded the curve and paddling hard, our canoe started to tip and water poured in over the side.  We thought this was no big deal, having canoed the river several times we had fallen out many times - but never under these conditions as we soon found out.  ONE SECOND - I swear it was ONE SECOND we were tipping and the next second all 3 us were hanging on the trunk of the fallen tree being pulled under by the river with an unbelievable force.  Our canoe was sucked to the bottom, bent in the middle and trapped under the tree.


My 9 year old great-niece, Halley, was in the middle and her arms weren't long enough to wrap around the big tree trunk - the river kept pulling her under and my niece and I kept pulling her head back above water.  The water was LOUD!  We couldn't hear the others downstream calling for us to let go.  They couldn't help us, the river was in control and we had to help ourselves. 


With a power I don't understand to this day, my niece, Aimee, was able to pull herself up and stand on the trunk of the fallen tree.  I kept Halley's head above water with one hand and hung onto the tree for my life with the other arm. Aimee was able to pull her daughter up onto the tree with her which only left me in the water. 


I was in the main channel of the river where the water flowed the fastest and the pull was the strongest.  I was slipping further and further down and under the tree trunk.  All I could see was straight up and the trunk of the tree.  As I was hanging there I thought of all the stories I had heard of people swept under brush and trapped on the bottom of a river.  I feared if I let go that I would be sucked to the bottom of the river with no way to escape.  But eventually, my face was under the water.  I could feel it running across my face and I realized I had two choices, I could stay where I was and drown or let go and hope for the best.  At least it was my choice - I got to decide - so I let go of the tree.  The river immediately carried me under the tree trunk and I popped up on the other side grabbing with both arms for anything and I caught a tree limb.  Now I was facing upstream but I was able to turn and look downstream.  Downstream toward my husband, downstream where I could see that if I let go, the flow of the water would carry me several yards into a shallow calm portion of the river.  So once more I let go and let the river carry me out of the tree and to safety.


Halley refused to go back into the water and the bank was high and eroded.  Aimee managed to drag herself and her daughter up the straight bank by climbing on exposed roots.  The brush on the bank was head high and they were barefoot.  They had to hike upriver to a place safe to cross the river and walk down to meet us.  Meanwhile it had begun to thunder, lightning and rain.  But our band of six was back together.  With one canoe, not knowing how far we had left to go and with no option but to push forward in the river.

Because of erosion along the sides of the river from the sharp curves we had to stay in the river channel to finish the last mile or more.  The kids rode in the canoe and the adults hung onto the sides where it was deep and walked where it was shallow.  We finally made it to the end and the six of us turned in our one canoe.  It was like a dream nightmare - we still couldn't believe the force of the water.

The next morning I called my niece to see if she was okay.  She was the only one who could really understand how I felt.  Her kids had slept with her.  Neither of us had slept much - the AC blowing sounded like water to both of us, but we were fine.  Both of us would be willing to take a canoe trip again - but definitely wouldn't float this section of the river again.

Our brave crew having a good time - minus me - I'm taking the picture -
while we still had TWO canoes
After one day at Lake Tenkiller we packed up and headed home to deal with the fallen tree.  My parents understood, we couldn't take any more "relaxation", we needed to go home and cut up a tree.

Floating in Lake Tenkiller with my baby girl - calm water

So get out there and have your summer adventures but ALWAYS have healthy respect for the power of water and be thankful for the unadventurous days in life.  Because life is the greatest adventure of all.


Be safe out there!


Laura

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Pull up A Bar Stool

Due to the odd placement of the bar in my kitchen (too near the door to the patio), there is only room for one bar stool to be placed there.  We can always squeeze in an extra if needed but it's awkward if there is a lot of traffic coming and going from the pool.

I've been looking for a stool the correct height since we moved into our new old house. Wouldn't you know that after looking for months I found one on craigslist while looking for other items.  And here it is! 

The seller told me the paint had rubbed off on the seat and it needed repainted.  Repainting was not an issue, I loved those legs and the flower details and the rubbed off black paint.  But did it REALLY need repainted?  Or did it need a good scrubbing?  If you guessed scrubbing you are correct!  I didn't think GLITTER would be stuck where paint was MISSING. 

So I got out the Murphy's Oil Soap and a gave it a scrub and sure enough it was just sticky yucky. I believe some little sweetie spent many days doing craft projects while sitting in the chair and smearing it with glue, juice, glitter and other stuff I probably don't want to think about.

Yep, those patches on the seat and back needed cleaned off - not painted over

I scrubbed it and gave it a coat of clear wax.  SuperDave commented to me that if I rubbed the paint off while I scrubbed that would be fine because that was just "distressing".  I think he's coming around to my current obsession with furniture upcycling.


Love the flower

There are a few scratches on the seat but I really don't care!  Anything that comes to my house without scratches is just a TARGET.  Give it a few days and it will be scratched and banged and well you know, we LIVE here, things are not perfect.




Love the legs


Love the Bar Stool!
 If you would like to sit at my bar and keep me company while I am cooking (or cleaning up) you can sit on this great bar stool and have a drink.  I love good company!

Much Love & Laughter,

Laura

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Pictures That Make Me Smile - Nice Ukulele

The title of today's classic photo is Nice Ukulele, just because that's what came to mind when I looked at this picture today.  The occasion was my sweetie's 50th birthday a few years ago.  It was a themed party because he was born in Hawaii, he's a military brat the son of a Marine Corps officer. It was a wonderful day with many happy memories and many interesting photos.


NICE UKULELE!!

Hang in there, tomorrow is Friday!

Laura

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Le Beautiful French Desk - Chalk Paint Project

In a previous post I showed off the hexagon table I chalk painted and I'm still considering whether that project is finished - I think not.  My second chalk painted piece of furniture is a little french desk for my computer.

This is the picture from the craigslist ad of the chest I beautified for a  bedside chest and the desk.  Not too impressive, right?  But the $60 price for both pieces more than make up for it.  The chest turned out AMAZING in black.  Please don't miss that one it's my favorite.

Had I not painted the desk white FIRST, it probably would be black also because I love the little chest so much.  But I wanted to try chalk paint so I started with the desk and chose white.


Here is is on the patio complete with a nice little sticker on the side ready for it's transformation into a French Beaute'.


BEFORE
I sanded it all over because some of the paint was peeling especially around the feet which had obvious been damp.  I sanded the top pretty heavily because it was laminate (think kitchen counters).  I roughed it up pretty good and it took the paint well.
I made my own chalk paint from various recipes I found here and there which mostly said mix 2 parts Paint with 1 part Plaster of Paris and a little water if it needed to be thinner.  I used Behr Toasted Marshmallow - it looks white to me, I guess it's a very LIGHTLY toasted marshmallow.  I put on 3 light coats to get full coverage and the look I wanted. 


The painting went very well and then I used a Minwax Clear Paste Wax applied with a rag after the paint dried.  I wasn't sure I would chalk paint again and I didn't want to spend $30 on a brush.  So I applied it with a rag and then buffed it with another rag.  I was very pleased with the effect of the wax over the paint. 


I distressed some of the edges lightly. I have to admit this desk is sort of small for my computer and I wish the knee space was bigger - BUT she's very pretty and I don't have much room in the corner of the bedroom anyway, so it's working (for now).  Please disregard the cords and the cat in this photo.


The desk and the chest had very nice solid brass handles which I would not consider painting.  I found two methods for cleaning when I google "cleaning brass".  The first was ketchup and this actually did make some improvement.  The second was baking soda and I found this worked better than the ketchup.

So there it sits looking all beautiful and French now I just need to get organized!  (and replace that carpet with wood)  That will happen eventually, if I didn't have a project on my list I'm not sure what I would do.


AFTER - Magnifique!

Much Love & Laughter,

Laura




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