Tuesday, June 4, 2013

63 June Monthly Challenge: The Great Outdoors!

The amount of projects we have on our wish list at any given time is quite lengthy and crazy to think about.  But this month, I decided that we need to put some of our interior projects on hold, and switch gears to the great outdoors.


The last couple of years we have been so busy getting the interior ready for things like our HGTV story and BHG photo shoot, that we haven't given any attention to the exterior.  And by any, I mean, it's so bad that I shut the curtains when we have visitors....

But I will open those curtains to you, hang my head in shame, and show you that what once was this...


Is now this...


Seriously, makes my gag reflexes work really hard to look at these photos.  And I even stained the deck again last year, can't you tell?  And that table, we built and painted it two years ago after a major storm came through and shattered the glass in the smaller table we had previously.  The paint didn't adhere and is shredding and chipping and looks oh so classy against the shredding and chipping deck.  I am trying to start a new trend, you in?  And the grass.... we have planted grass twice, even professionally and it won't take since it's in a drainage area and the dogs think it's fun to play there.  Can I start a patchy grass fad too?  Or how about a gray on gray on gray equals super drab trend? 

Yikes.

Moving on.

Our backyard is a problem.  A huge giant problem.  The font is nothing magical either.  You may recall that last year I had it on our list of top ten projects...

 
Well... we checked most of the goals off of our list last year, but not the exterior one... sigh.

So, I am taking a break from all of my interior organizing and cleaning and heading outside this month.  Fingers crossed that the later Wisconsin snow and rain will finally be tapering and summer will swoop in with hot flying colors.  We want a place to eat with the kids, to grill with glee, to relax with a glass of wine, to listen to endless giggles and neighborhood squirt gun fights, to roast marshmallows and hot dogs, to play catch with the kids, to kick back with a book and to bask in the sun.  Sounds like a tall order, but I am feeling oh so motivated!  Summer is my favorite time of the year and I refuse to watch it fly by and not take advantage of the heat, the sun and the sounds that come with it!

So, here is what I am hoping to accomplish this month:

I would love to paint our front door a fun color to break up all the white and gray we have going on.  But what color I will pick is a mystery even to me, here are some of my favorites:

{ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 }
I would also love to add some pretty flowers in our planters, spruce up the plants in front of our porch and maybe even spray paint our white bistro set to make it more colorful as well.

{via}
Both our front and back doors are in need of a new entry mat.  There are so many fun and colorful DIY options floating around blog land!

{via}

One of the areas not pictured in our yard photos above is a small garden behind our garage.  I would love to hang some pretty potted plants and herbs above the garden to add color and visual interest.

{via}

And maybe some pretty hanging lanterns too.

{via}

Perhaps take advantage of the dipped trend and give some love to some table top planters... so stinkin' cute!

{via}

Speaking of table top... I would be giddy excited to be able to use ours for fantastic family dinners and entertaining.  This one has me over the moon inspired!  Everything from the magical lights to the table top decor and even the small side table for serving.  i. love. it. all.

{via}
Of course, I will need lots of pillow too!  I plan on relaxing.  Now... to schedule that in....

{via}

One way I have seen people make their exterior living spaces feel more like interior spaces, is by adding decorative items and mirrors!  My little wheels are a spinnin'!

{via}

Here is an inexpensive but fun table top decor idea, I have had this one pinned foreva!

{via}

A new outdoor rug or two, is sure to be a HUGE expense when piled onto all of my other ideas and projects.  I am really contemplating painting/stenciling something, but it has me a bit nervous.  Anyone out there tried this with success?

{via}

And I couldn't chat about endless outdoor inspiration without posting one of my most favorite patio makeovers in all of blog history....

{via}
My pals over at The Handmade Home really did a phenomenal job making a magical place to spend time together, and I am drawing oodles of ideas and inspiration from them as we take on our currently craptastic but has loads of potential outdoor space.

A few other things I hope to do:
  • Spruce up my planters, and even plant some plants!
  • Spray paint some outdoor pieces we already have to save on replacing them {an outdoor storage bench and some outdoor plastic chairs}
  • Organize the outdoor storage bench
  • Disguise the in-yo-face air conditioning unit
  • Create a small serving table/grilling station
  • Sand and re-paint the outdoor table
  • Patch grass {again}

Oh, and we are replacing our deck!   This is the biggest most exciting update to the entire project.  We have spent 9 years sanding and staining our deck year after year only to find it looking terrible within months.  It just can't keep up with the dogs, kids, traffic and harsh Wisconsin weather.  Now, with all the rotted boards, we decided to replace them with maintenance free decking.  Because our deck isn't all that large, we decided it was worth the cost when compared to new deck boards and purchasing expensive stain and materials year after year.  Plus, we have had maintenance free railing for those same nine years and couldn't be happier with it.  We have been slowly working on removing the old deck boards and replacing the new ones.  And when I say slowly, thanks to all the rain, two weeks later we have six boards in!

Of course I will share the entire before and after install process this month, along with a bajillion other super fun outdoor projects I have up my sleeve!

Crazy ambitious right?  I tend to have really good intentions but I find blogging about it keeps me accountable to get things done.  And with baseball four nights per week and tourney weekends ahead, it will be a miracle if we can make it happen, but gosh darn it, we need a place to unwind in-between all the madness so I know it will be worth the hard work we put into it.

Who's with me?  Do you have an outdoor space that needs some lovin'?  Maybe some planters that could use some sprucing or even a front porch that could use a little TLC?  Or do you have HUGE backyard plans too?  I would love to know what plans you have this month/summer and if you are excited to play along with me!


63 comments:

  1. Excellent! I can't wait to see what you do with the place!!!

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  2. Yay! I'm so excited to see what you do outside. We just bought our fourth house, but we've yet to complete landscaping on any one. We're planning right now to do a few small projects and one large project this summer (a deck!). We live east of the Twin Cities, so we've decided the same you have: we're putting in maintenance free decking. It's not worth the hassle!

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    1. That is awesome, I am excited for you guys! We are so happy with the decking so far, even though we are still just installing it. The true test will be after the snow melts next spring! :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  3. Good luck! I can't wait to see what colors / ideas you decide on. I'm sure it's going to look great.

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    1. Thank you! There will definitely be some color! So excited!

      xo,
      Jen

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  4. We have had huge problems with our backyard because of our two large dogs. We lost all of our grass two years ago and ended up with one big mud pit. We through down wood chips last year to help with the mud, and it did a bit, but now they're all gross and we're planning on putting down a patio in a figure 8 so the dogs can run, and planting huge gardens everywhere else. (Crossing my fingers that the dogs won't try to run through the new gardens!)

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    1. Sounds like a fun plan! I hope it all works out for you!

      xo,
      Jen

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  5. YAY!! I am totally in outdoor-spruce-up mode so I can not wait to see what all you do!!

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  6. My outside needs so much love! I'm dying to get my hands on my front entryway. This WI weather sucks! Bring on summer already

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    1. I know right? Seriously days upon days of cold and rain is getting a bit frustrating, especially after six straight months of snow! :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  7. I can't wait what you will do outside! love the picture of the mirror you showed us too! We have a very small balcony and a very ugly yard. We are trying this year to make it better but it's been difficult with this weather (Montreal), so I hope to work harder this year in my small outdoor space! :-)
    Ingrid

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    1. Yes, that mirror is amazing! My gal pal Cassie, who whipped it up, is one creative chica!

      xo,
      Jen

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  8. Our front and back yards could definitely use some major lovin'! We have a huge deck in the back and there is nada on it. I know it's wasting perfectly good entertainment space, but since we may be in this location for another year, I certainly want to decorate it and have at least one party on it before we move.

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  9. Sounds like a lot of fun! I absolutely love sitting in our garden, but I should probably pay it a little attention in terms of the garden "decor"! Not sure if I'll get much done this month, but I'm really excited to see what you and all the other "I Heart" readers come up with! :)

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  10. Instead of reseeding grass that is bound to not do well, you might think of planting some native species there (which will be a double duty by helping to add some prettiness & is easy to care for...bonus!) or if it's a soggy drainage area, add a rain garden & get extra green/eco points :)

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    1. Thanks so much for the tips Nichole! We will be sure to take that into consideration. Part of the problem is just that it has been so challenging to keep the dogs off of it while it grows in, so that just means more discipline on our part. They run other areas of our yard which still look great, it just has been difficult growing in one of their main paths. This time we are hoping to fence things off until it grows in. :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  11. Oh Jen, iHeart YOU! You are always such an inspiration. Unfortunately, this is not the kind of inspiration I need right now! ;) I have been wanting to tear out a side wall in our house and add a big window because all of our yard is on the side. Recently I thought about how awesome it would be to open it up with some french doors and build a deck right there. It would be incredible. The thing is, it's a huge expense, and we are military, which means we will be moving within 2 years. So I'm trying to talk myself out of it. But your post is making me talk myself into it! Anyway, can't wait to see what you do with it!

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  12. Looking forward to what you do with your outdoor space! Our backyard has no patio, nothing at all except for a tiny patch of concrete off our sliding door and grass. That's it. Needless to say, we never use it. We're hoping to FINALLY tackle that project sometime in the fall when it cools off so next summer we'll finally be able to enjoy our backyard! Sigh.

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  13. I hear you on the rain!!! So tired of the one nice day, 10+ rain. I don't get much accomplished outside either. We need to replace our deck for the same reasons. It looks a little like yours. I can't wait to see what you do with your outdoor spaces.

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  14. Jen.I have the same decking problem. The previous owners didn't stain the wood but painted it and well after several northeast Ohio winters yuck. Chipped wood splinters and warped. My husband and I are looking into a recycled product that is cushioned. We thought it would last years and is easy to clean. Also would like ideas on using curtains on a gazebo to make the space softer.

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  15. Ok... You have inspired me. I wasn't sure if I was going to bother tackling our deck this year, but you're right. It would be so nice to enjoy the outdoor space! And like you, I find ours honestly embarrassing, even walking by. Can't wait to see what you do with yours!
    {lamourcheznous.wordpress.com}

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  16. We all know you'll end up doing something AMAZING with the space...and I cant wait to see what it is!
    xo Kerri at HollyMuffin

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  17. Yea, I am so excited for this challenge. I had planned to re-stain our deck, refinish our wrought iron table and chairs, re-stain the swing and paint our wooden table with outdoor paint. Whew, that makes me tired just thinking about it but you have really inspired me! Now I've got to get to work!

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    1. Wowzers! Sounds like you have a list as long as mine! Let's high five to makin' it happen this summer!

      xo,
      Jen

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  18. I'm pretty proud of myself for remembering and tracking this down, but your question about painting/stencilling outdoor rugs reminded me of Nicole at Making it Lovely doing precisely that four years ago! (And goodness me I have been following her blog for a long time.) http://makingitlovely.com/2009/05/25/the-porch-rug-revisited/ I hope it's inspiring!

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    1. Super inspiring! I thought about stenciling something cool onto the new decking, but for what it cost, I just don't think I can paint over it. But Nicole's project did turn out quite incredible! Thanks so much for sharing!

      xo,
      Jen

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  19. Love how you are "keeping it real" and showed it off, even though it's not perfect. It'll make a great before shot! My back yard can be a mess (we didn't do a garden this year and weeds are taking over, storms knocked branches out of every tree and it all needs swept majorly) but we've been working on my daughter's flower garden and will soon be getting new sidewalks. Her garden can be seen here http://thebrickbungalow.blogspot.com/search/label/Lily%27s%20garden good luck and I can't wait to see what you come up with!!!

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    1. Thanks Megan! I am all about keepin' it real lately. I share so many pretty project pictures and after shots, that sometimes I forget to share the real life messy shots too! These pictures were taking right after the snow melted so they are a true vision of what can happen to a yard after six months of harsh weather, kids and neglect.

      xo!
      Jen

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  20. Oh my gosh. All your ideas make me dizzy. lol. With 5 kiddos I don't have much time for big plans. Even painting can be more complicated than you would think. Most of those fun things fall to my awesome and super handy hubby. Praise the Lord for him! :) Like building a bump-out on the deck for the grill, and finally putting on railing. But I totally hear you on hoping that summer will finally swoop in with hot flying colors. (MN here, same cold, soggy story). I'm not sure if I should even bother planting a tomato or two. I'm afraid they'd all die or rot with this weather.

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  21. Count me in..am doing quite same project now..!! ;)

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  22. Oooh, that is awesome!! We JUST finished the final touches on our front porch makeover (I am still scrubbing paint off my skin!), and are still trying to figure out how we want to beautify around back. I can't wait to see what you do!!

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    1. Can't wait to see more of that porch of yours! It's gonna be fab!

      xo,
      Jen

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  23. I love your ideas! I'm hosting a baby shower for my brother next month and so far the guest list has 114 people, which has me cringing. To hold so many people, I'm really counting on my backyard space. Luckily we completed the yard last year and it looks and it really turned out great but the side yard is bare with dirt and weeds. Just like the blog keeps you accountable, parties keep me accountable. So I'm hoping to have something done with the side yard by next month.

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    1. Haha! Yes, those have kept me accountable in the past too! And we are totally hoping to throw a grand celebration after we are done with the yard too! So much fun!

      xo,
      Jen

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  24. I hear ya with what Wisconsin weather can do to a deck! As a fellow Wisconsinite I am constantly staining ours as well. Hopefully we can get around to replacing it and doing some work in our back yard after this VERY LONG winter!! Love you blog, and love your inspiration. Thanks!

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  25. Soooo with you on the outside projects! Last year we had concrete poured for a screened in porch and the hubs SLOWLY getting the frame up. Stinkin weather... We are in eastern Minnesota so I hear ya!

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    1. Weather definitely slows down the yard and landscaping around these parts! Best wishes as you work on that porch project!

      xo,
      Jen

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  26. those hanging lanterns would be really nice :)

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  27. I haven't painted an outside rug but I did cover a thin outdoor/indoor rug material (we got it from Lowe's and someone had returned it so we got it for $1 a sq. foot) with a vinyl table cloth I purchased from a Dollar General store (I didn't need a large rug for the space so the tablecloth fit perfectly). I completely wrapped the rug with the tablecloth, then taped the underside with duct tape at the seams (folded under the corners and taped). I then painted several coats of waterproof polyurethane and let it dry in between coats. I painted the underside (yes, even over top of the tape) with several coats of poly since I knew water would get underneath it the way the wind blows when it rains, even though our porch has a roof on it. It's more for looks so it doesn't get a lot of traffic on it so it has lasted several months so far. I did make a similar rug for inside my house as well using a vinyl tablecloth but didn't put the poly on it and it does get a good bit of traffic and I am noticing the color on the pattern is beginning to wear off. Just throwing the idea out there! Good luck! Robin

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    1. That sounds amazing Robin! Thanks so much for sharing! I am impressed by your creativity!

      xo,
      Jen

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  28. This is a big and fun project you have going. It is like a big unpainted canvas just sitting there and waiting for you to add your personallity. I think you are absolutely on the right track on going maintenance free for the decking. After all it is the adding the color and detail that is the really funny part when sprucing up an area :) We are about to finish our new entrance area and we've integrated a metal mesh frame in the decking to get of the most dirt before steping on to a nice entry mat (which I'm hunting for now :) ) Hope summer arrives soon - and remember to enjoy the make over . Anne

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  29. Hi Jen
    You will love the composite deck, scrubbing it is a bit harder then one thinks but think bare feet all summer long, so worth it. Here is my question, I love the look of the chairs/sets with cushions, but do you bring them in and out every night or store in deck boxes? I feel like that could be a pain but might be worth the comfort and look.
    Good luck with the deck redo!
    Kristin

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    1. Hi Kristin!

      Good to know the composite decking will get a thumbs up! Since we only have two cozy outdoor chairs, I decided that I was just going to get covers for them for the spring/summer/fall season and bring them in during the winter months {to avoid rusting of the metal frame}.

      For the other throw pillows, I will probably leave them out unless I know a storm is coming.

      xo!
      Jen

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  30. We have the composite deck boards and love them, but wish we would have spent the extra money and went with the solid boards. We used the hollow boards. They held up pretty nicely over the past 7 years, but we have a couple that are starting to split from water getting stuck inside them over the winter months. Did you go with the solid or hollow boards? You will love never having to sand and stain them. Can't wait to see all of your updates! I love the yellow front door by the way. ;-)

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    1. Glad to hear you love them, but such a bummer that some are splitting! We ended up with a solid composite boards, so hopefully they can withstand the harsh winters!

      xoxo!
      Jen

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  31. I made my own pillows with outdoor fabiric on sale from JoAnns 2 years ago-- they have held up really well here in ND. I used the cheapest batting I could and got the look I wanted, but if a huge storm comes and they end up two blocks away I won't have to cry.

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    1. Sounds like I may need to become friends with my sewing machine! :)

      xo,
      Jen

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  32. I am on the flip side of Minneapolis from you and the weather here ain't any better! :) We have been waiting 2 months for our deck to even be started! Today the lumber arrived.... now, like you, I feel the need to start to get the yard in shape for whenever summer will get here. We haven't even planted a single annual in the ground! I'm on board for getting down to business and making summer happen! :)

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    1. We haven't planted anything either, makes me so sad! I am ready to get my hands dirty already! :)

      Best wishes as you tackle your deck!

      xo,
      Jen

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  33. Yay! I am so with you on this challenge! We just installed a back door where there wasn't one before, and the rest of our outside is screaming for attention...can't wait to see what you come up with, I'm always so inspired by you!

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  34. Yay for an outdoor challenge! We live in SC, so our temps started getting warm back in March. We almost live outside when we're home, working in the yard or in our garden, or playing with our son. We already did some updates to our deck back in April, http://managingthemanor.com/all-decked-out/ but we're still working on other projects in our yard. Excited to be along on this challenge and can't wait to see what all you will be doing!

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    1. Sounds so lovely! We love being outside with the kids! We find ourselves at parks and baseball fields and taking walks any day that the sun shines from spring through fall.

      Enjoy your garden darlin'!

      xo,
      Jen

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  35. Hi Jen,

    I absolutely love your blog!! I too was thinking of doing the same this summer, but with my wedding coming up and all that money being spent on deposits and payments, I'll have to start really slow and budget accordingly. Definitely want to paint our front and side doors at least and edge my garden beds, can't wait to see what you end up with!

    Good luck with your summer projects!
    Maria

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  36. Can;t wait to see this all come together! I know it's going to be so so great!

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  37. oh you're not alone jen, my patio is overlooked too and that plus the backyard is a bareland right now..i can't wait to see what you will come up with!

    huggies♥
    rea

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  38. We are in pretty much the same boat, so I am glad I am not the only one! Unfortunately the yard is being largely put off until next year since I just had a baby last week :) Great inspiration for me though!

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  39. Hia Jen, I have nearly finished painting my old plastic fake tericotta planters with annie sloan paint, here in England! Spring has not sprung weather wise so the pots now full with plants look jolly and don't need a primer first! Off to bed now but wanted to wish you well and share my idea! Katherine <3 xo

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  40. We are approaching the cold, indoor time of year here in Australia, but I still love reading your blog with all its inspiration. I have a question or two: we just got a puppy and she is destroying the backyard. Do your dogs chew your furniture/pots/plants? And how do you organise dog toys?

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  41. thank you so much for featuring my dipped votives! this post is full of great ideas!

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  42. I saw a similar starburst mirror on clearance at my local target! Originally $30 for $8!! Maybe there is one at yours? Or online? Have fun outdoors this month!

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  43. thanks for the mirror shoutout!! I loved making that thing...and 2 years later, it looks exactly the same! Through snowstorms and massive heat waves...it hasn't budged.

    Your outdoor spruce up is going to be amazing!!

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  44. Perfect inspiration, I have been working hard to finish up the sunroom and get the motivation to find just the right patio table to enjoy grilling season. Great challenge to get me over the finish line!

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  45. I don't know if you read all your comments but I thought I'd comment anyways and let you know how happy I was to find this post. I love your honesty and all the inspiration you shared on this post.

    Janiene

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