Our Outdoor Oasis

Do you ever get inspired? You get a real itch to make something happen. Stat. I recently was feeling this way after reading about Miss Mustard Seed’s antique potting bench and deck redo. Seeing an adorable chippy table with gardening gloves, a shovel, and some pots on a friend’s porch soon after only solidified my need for an outside spruce-up of our deck.

We are blessed to have a nice sized deck, but it’s rarely used because it’s just not inviting. You know, the kind of place where you are drawn to sit, relax, and drink an Arnold Palmer? A place where you can notice the beauty all around you, and sit and soak it in for awhile? Our deck was not this. In fact, it was quite the opposite of inviting. IMG_6123 IMG_6124

This makeover is made up of… wait for it… not one, but three side-of-the-road finds! That’s right. The first find was this “perfectly good” rocking chair. You can probably guess why it caught my eye. 😉 (It’s green!) The rocker sled on the one side is rotted part way off, but I propped it on a piece of wood, and it works just fine. IMG_2438

I scored the umbrella a few months ago. (There were actually two that I brought home, but one broke during a storm since it didn’t have a proper umbrella stand.) Kinda a funny story behind the umbrellas. When I spotted them sticking out of someone’s trash can and did the slam-on-the-brakes-find-the-nearest-place-to-turn-around move, there was a guy in a red pickup coming the opposite direction. He had his blinker on and was turning into the same driveway. I motioned him to go first since I thought either he was coming to do some work at the house, or he lived there. He motioned back for me to go. I reluctantly pulled in and sheepishly snagged the two umbrellas. As I pulled out, I watched him turn in and start to sort through the trash piled there. “Another treasure hunter!” I told the kids. “Nice that he let us pick what we wanted first!”


The third score were the green patio chairs. They were old, dated, and faded, but I saw potential. Plus, they were free! The kids and I stuffed them into the back of our car one day on our way home from the gym. IMG_6113That brings us to the deck. As I swept off the leaves and dirt, the kids pounded in all the nails that were sticking up enough to poke your foot if you stepped on them. IMG_6131We moved our new little potting bench into place. I found it for $30 at an estate sale down the road.
IMG_6128And I began decorating it. I had some ideas of what I wanted, but it came as I went. If you remember my “peculiar treasure”, then you’ll recognize the wood sign I painted for the potting bench. The casket had rotted out and fallen apart, so it was time for a repurposing. Another new life.IMG_1975DSC_5358

I found a few small plants for $1 each in the clearance section at Lowes and planted them in various containers to add some life and color. (I’ll obviously move these inside during the wintertime.)

Sunday afternoon was spent at a favorite antique mall where I picked up the coca cola box. I’m still deciding on a practical use for it, but I like the way it looks.DSC_5364


Next, I spray painted the lovely green chairs and bought new cushions for them. (No easy task, I’ll say… locating outdoor cushions this time of year was a challenge!)IMG_6122IMG_6732

Hard to believe those are the same chairs, huh? 🙂

So here’s the final reveal of our own outdoor oasis. (We ate dinner out there tonight! So nice!)DSC_5337 DSC_5338 DSC_5343 DSC_5354

Even though I’m incredibly happy with how the makeover turned out, it wasn’t without a mishap. Oops.IMG_6173As I was trying to remove the umbrella from its stand, I accidentally broke the table… yeah. Super bummer. So Josiah helped me put together the new one. Even though we accidentally left the stickers underneath the glass… I told him it would be a good memory of us building it together. 🙂


The Red Door

My son and I were driving home from a lunch/shopping date when we spotted this door leaning up against a tree in someone’s front yard. I turned around for a better look, then hopped out and saw a tiny sticker that read “$25 OBO”. I knew that meant that I could probably talk them down to $20 at least. Thankfully I had a 20 dollar bill left over from our shopping trip. Josiah helped me scrounge up as much change as we could find in the car. I knocked expectantly on the front door, but no one answered. So I left $23.46 on their front porch and happily loaded my new red door into the back of my car. PTDC0186 The door stayed in my garage for a couple days until I had a minute to clean it up. I used Windex and cleaned the whole thing. I made a Pinterest board and started pinning ideas. The possibilities were endless! Would I use chalkboard paint and cover a couple of the panes for leaving sweet notes and writing lists? Would I make a shelf and mount it below the windows? Maybe I could add hooks and turn it into a place to hang things? IMG_3906 IMG_3908 In the end, I just brought the door in and leaned it against the wall, deciding to decide later what I would do. IMG_3952 Before I found the red door, my friend Jen was working on a new art piece for my blank wall. She is a talented photographer and artist and I love her style! She came over, eyed my wall, and started brainstorming a piece that would not only compliment, but be an inspirational focal point. What she came up with is amazing!

The piece is called “Timeless Ballad”. It’s based on Hebrews 13:8, an extremely meaningful verse to me. “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”

I remember sitting on our small apartment floor as a 21-year-old newlywed. I was sobbing. My dad had recently gone to Heaven after an accident and I was struggling. My new husband spoke calmly and reassuringly as he comforted me. He shared Hebrews 13:8 with me and God spoke to my hurting heart. My Savior. He was the same God He always had been. He was good. Even when I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I didn’t have to be afraid, for He was with me every step. Every day.

As I shared this story with Jen, she listened thoughtfully. I also gave her a letter I’d found that was written to my dad when he was 8 years old. It is from his grandmother. It is a happy letter that talks about kittens and ducks. A special treasure.

Two weeks later, Jen brought me the finished piece. She had artistically inserted clocks with no time (Jesus is timeless), the sentimental letter, the words of Hebrews 13:8, and sheet music, all in a field of wildflowers. Very “organic” as she described it. And very symbolic and special to me. IMG_4101 IMG_4103IMG_4097 Initially I hung “Timeless Ballad” on the music room wall, but decided it looked better next to the red door. “Timeless Ballad” and the red door are a good pair and a special reminder to me of God’s grace in a difficult time. IMG_6072IMG_9862

Barn Door Doggie Gate

Growing up on the ranch, barn doors were a part of my everyday existence. I fed and walked my 4-H pigs twice daily, so opening and closing the barn door was life.

IMG_1016 That’s why when I decided we needed a more permanent doggie gate in the house, (we were using a baby gate) I started searching for the perfect barn door to convert. The baby gate was a hassle to put up and down, plus Callie, our border collie, just hopped right over it. Only Baby, the golden retriever, thought it was unscalable. This time of year, especially with all the spring mud, it is really nice to have a place to keep the dogs after they’ve come in from doing their business outside. Not lovin’ the big muddy doggie footprints across my light colored carpet! 🙂


I found the barn door at the Peddler’s Mall, one of my favorite antique/junk stores. It still had cow manure and horse hair on it when I brought it home! It must have come straight from the barn! So I took it outside and gave it a good scrubbing with dawn soap and a big brush.
IMG_9831IMG_9975 IMG_9827 I ended up buying new hinges for it since the existing ones were all rusted and bent. In the process of removing the old hinges, the door split down one side, so I had to gorilla glue it, fill it with stainable wood filler and stain the crack. I also painted the handle black.

I used two 15 inch long boards (free wood from someone who took apart their swing set) to mount the hinges on since it is so heavy. I wanted to make sure it had a good sturdy place to hang. I painted the anchors to match the wall.
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I also added a hook and eye latch to keep it flush with the wall. Otherwise it tends to swing closed on its own.


Now both muddy-pawed doggies can be contained in a stylish way. I love the finished product… and I completed the whole project myself from start to finish!
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A Peculiar Treasure

Some people call it dumpster-diving. I prefer to call it treasure hunting. I’ve been known over the years to find some treasures in the trash. And you’ll be happy to know that it is perfectly legal! 🙂

I happen to know that Monday afternoon is an excellent time for treasure hunting because that’s when people put their trash at the curb for the trash truck to pick up early the next morning.

Picture this. You’re driving in your car, singing along to the radio and suddenly, you spot a potential treasure. You slam on your brakes, sending the stuff in the back of your car sliding forward, and careen unto the nearest side street or driveway to turn around and get a better look. Sometimes you score a gem. Sometimes (like just the other day when I saw a “perfectly good chair”, but soon realized that it was irreparable) you don’t. These are a few of the treasures I’ve found this way over the years.
In the dumpster area at our apartment complex in California (it was silver before I spray painted it black):


From our neighborhood in Florida (the tv stand with glass doors intact- it’s amazing what people throw away!):

On the side of the road in Ohio (I painted it green- imagine that!):


Recently, I pulled one of my slam-on-the-brakes-find-the-nearest-turn-around stunts for a pile of junk. There were a couple of small animal cages (always handy around our place), and a wooden box that looked vintage, although I wasn’t sure what it was. After I brought it home and cleaned it up a bit, I sent this picture to my mom and sister for their opinion.


My mom and step-dad’s educated guess was a military shipping crate of some kind. After some deliberation, my sister and I came up with a different conclusion. The place where I found it is just down the hill from an old cemetery. After doing some research, we found that years ago, the caskets were not placed in concrete as they are today and would sometimes migrate. Our guess is that after years of shifting soil and erosion, it made its way to the house at the bottom of the hill. Imagine digging this up in your yard! I had goosebumps when I realized what it was.

After realizing that my treasure was indeed a casket, I deliberated on whether I should keep it or not. After talking to Jonathan, I decided to turn a symbol of death into one of life. After all, the soul is surely departed! Now it’s a flower planter and definitely my most peculiar treasure!