(This is a post about a balcony makeover. I promise. But first…)
I once played bass guitar in a band that opened for a band named Saving Summer. Long story. But the highlights are: I wore a sequin shirt and cut-off jeans, and I learned to play bass that day, and haven’t played bass since. Oh, and I also sung some 80’s power-ballad falsetto back-up vocals. 100% true story.
But that’s not what this post is about. Nope. I was just reminded of that occasion because of the words “saving summer”. However, in this case I’m referring to saving up every ounce of summer I can before the cold winds blow and the snow flies. So to do that I finally did something with our teeny-tiny scrungy apartment balcony. (Still need to sand an paint the railing though…)
You see this?
Yucky. Especially this part:
And while Little M likes to hang out on the balcony and yell “hi!” to “the guys” (that’s what he calls the older children who play in the courtyard), it’s not been the nicest place to hang out. So I decided to work on it a bit.
Doing a balcony makeover in late August may seem a bit behind the times, but give me a break people - I had a baby in July! And I also discovered that it’s the exactly right time to do it: outdoor furniture and gardening supplies are on clearance, and it turns out late summer is the perfect time to transplant perrenials, like I did! And it gives me the chance to save up every last bit of summer. Like a summer chipmunk. (Summer chipmunk?!? Sorry dudes. Notta’ lotta’ sleep these days, so I get a bit punchy.)
So here’s the run-down. It started with this chair: (Wait! It actually started with cleaning everything - sweeping cobwebs and dirt, scrubbing the BBQ, washing the walls… but that’s boring. So let’s start with the chair.)
It’s a director’s chair I bought on UsedRegina for $10. My plan was to spray paint it and re-cover it in an outdoor fabric, following this tutorial from Chez Larsson. But we picked up the chair and the wood looked great, and the fabric was already outdoor friendly (and sidewalk chalk wipes off like a dream. I know. Little M and I tried.) So I kept it as-is. But then I had already purchased my outdoor fabric (because I get a little trigger-happy when it comes to buying fabric…) and wanted to use it.
So I picked up a couple of ugly patio seat cushions on clearance from Canadian Tire and recovered them in my pretty quatrefoil fabric. These can fit nicely on the chair, or Little M can sit on them on the balcony when he’s reading, playing his drum (he does that. It’s cute), or yelling (nicely) at “the guys”.
Then there’s the issue of the mega-ugly air conditioning unit. It’s big, old, and was covered with chunks of caulking and stryofoam (from past attempts at insulating it, I think). So I scraped off the gunk, cleaned it all up, and spray painted it white. SOOO much nicer! Then I decided to make it useful. I concocted a “shelf”:
Using a cheapy shelf from IKEA that we’d bought long ago and never used, and a decorative stair-tread-thingie (You’ll note I speak in very technical terms. They love me at Home Depot), I spray painted them blue to go with the fabric and placed them on the air conditioning unit.
Ta-DAH!! Useful space! For a tea light, a cup of chai, or maybe a plant! Hmmm… a plant…
Turns out you can buy plants on UsedRegina. Cool, eh? People with extra (or multiplying) perrenials sell their extras to beginners like me. I bought some Lily of the Valley plants from a very nice lady for $2. Now, my green thumb is completely untested. But my prediction is that it’s not very green. I clicked on “Lily of the Valley for sale” because I thought “Ooh! Those are pretty!” Not because I had any clue about the plant. Turns out they need mostly shade (our balcony faces east. Check.), and should be transplanted in late summer/early fall (Check.) Sweet. However I planted them with my two-year-old. And I knew little more than he did on the process. (Put plant in dirt. water. done. right?) So we’ll see next spring if they come back and flower.
I picked up the planter at Wal-Mart on clearance. And I really like it. So if the plant dies I’ll use it for something else. (Hmm… maybe a lamp?) And the carpet is one I picked up at Canadian Tire. (It’s just a simple brown mat, but it ties in with the wood on the chair frame, and is lovely underfoot.)
Finally, I wanted some mood lighting for when I’m sitting out there in the late evening.
I still had the Knappa pendant fixture that used to hang in the nursery (but was replaced it with this DIY chandelier). I figured its plastic frame should stand up to the outdoor elements, but didn’t think the cord/bulb would.
So I placed a bunch of Christmas lights inside and now it’s a cool, weather-durable outdoor light! Hooray!
So there it is. My new favourite spot for early mornings, summer evenings and moments in between!
Sometimes when you’re a mom you get no sleep. And by sometimes, I mean all the time (at least in my experience so far). Well, you usually get some sleep - just not the amount you used to get, or want to have, or is medically recommended. And then sometimes you really get no sleep. Luckily Baby L’s been a bit better than her big brother was, and allows me more sleep than he did. But she’s a baby. And babies can’t feed themselves, work out their own gas, turn over, take off a blanket when too hot, and sometimes (my babies, anyways) can’t even fall asleep on their own. So. That sucks. And I have to do it for her. And last night was one of those nights where she needed a whole bunch of all of that.
Last week I had one of those nights too. Plus she continued her fussiness all day. Plus her big brother decided to be way overtired and put up a legendary rebellion against nap time, eating, house rules, and all things “mommy”. And I had no wits about me (due to lack of sleep) to handle this well. This resulted in all of us crying. Numerous times. And a messy house. And no supper made. And Daddy coming home early. (What a good Daddy. Have I bragged about him lately? Because he’s AH-mazing.) Luckily the day was saved. In thanks to Daddy.
And also thanks to a dear friend who took me for a smoothie and sat on a sunny park bench with me while we poured out our hearts to each other. I cried more - but good tears this time. And I was reminded once again how good it is to have hope. As we shared with each other we also reminded each other of our Good God who will see us through and provide what we need for today and tomorrow. We also spent time praying together. And we moved on - not just having vented raw emotion, but also being encouraged, strengthened, and determined to go forward for His glory. What a blessing. And I learned that I will need to be intentional, especially when sleep is sparse, to live for His glory for my children’s benefit.
And today? As the wee morning hours rolled along towards daybreak and I realized sleep would not be a part of my near future, I braced myself. I resolved not to flounder in hopeless frustration. I prayed that God would strengthen me. Help me think clearly. Help me look beyond myself. Help me love my children with patience. Teach with gentleness. And focus on what matters. I knew I needed to intentionally work hard today to be compassionate.
So. At the end of the day: the house is still a mess. Sean took us out for supper, because nothing was ready. The “To-Do” list was not even glanced at. But I did spend time praying with my children. I did make time to play. I did snuggle, and hug, and kiss whenever needed. I was able to be silly. I did (endlessly!) hold a tired and sick baby girl. I did have a dance party with a silly little boy. They did eat. They did nap. We did sit in the sunshine. We did read some books. And so, I guess today was a success after all.
Now. Enough blogging. I’d better get to bed!
Robert Abbey Delta Lamp
A Justine Taylor original. ;)
See how I made my copycat table lamp over on the UsedEverywhere blog today…
Isn’t it strange how your aesthetic can shift as the seasons change? The fresh, bright whites, and light linens that are so refreshing in summer are downright bland in the dead of winter. The rich jewel tones, shimmering gold, and heavy textures of winter are opulent at Christmas time, but oppressive in the spring.
photograph by Justine Taylor
And with the mere suggestion of Autumn in the air I’m finding the woolen yarns, rustic wood tones, caramel-y leathers, coppers and brasses, and autumnal colours extremely alluring. But I find myself saying “not yet”. Last winter’s ruthless iron-fisted grip still lingers in my memory, and not even the easy-going summer days can erase it. It reminds me to relish every last drop of summer.
As I thought about this tension between savouring summer and anticipating autumn I realized that, here in the prairies anyways, August is a season unto itself. A beautiful marriage of summer and autumn. The days are still wonderfully hot, but the mornings and evenings are blissfully cool. The light is bright, but more golden and dappled. There is an exquisite smell in the air - of dried crops, ready for harvest. The trees still rustle with green, but are dotted with a few gilded leaves that hint of the gorgeous array to come. And somehow listening to the football game on the radio is very appealing to me - no doubt arousing the nostalgia of late summer road trips, and hours in the combine just to be alongside my Love.
photograph by Justine Taylor
So, there’s no need to anxiously await Autumn. Nor do I need to mourn the brevity of Summer. No, I’m going to drink in every sweet day of August and its fusion of two beautiful seasons.