Friday, August 1, 2014

It's Friday!

I didn't do a Friday post last week so some of these are catching up from the previous week. It has been a CRAZY busy 2 weeks! And honestly I love being busy. I tend to love being home, and being by myself with the kids doesn't bother me. But there are days I feel like we do the same old same old- so it's nice to have a change in routine!

1. Last Wednesday we made a trip to visit our friends in Athens. It was good for our soul to see them. Holly kept Luke in her home when he was a baby. We lived about 2 miles apart and saw each other constantly so it's been super weird to not have them near-by. Nothing like a "shooting" game to lift everyone's spirit! (Wade is fighting a pretty huge battle right now).
2. Luke is growing growing growing. He had a checkup so I could get his vaccination records for school (pre-k). I am so thankful he is such a healthy little boy who is so full of life. And if you've spent 10 seconds around him you KNOW he expresses that in his words. He is JUST like his daddy in that he talks to everyone. They should both run for mayor.

He took a selfie on my phone one night and I found this picture a few days later. He is hilarious.
The boy still loves his subway so I know that's a special treat I can get that he will love. Subway was the only thing I could eat while I was pregnant with both kids that I knew wouldn't make me sick. It was also the only thing I really craved so it's no surprise that he is obsessed (and sissy really loves it too).
3. Emberly is growing so fast. She'll be 15months in August and the girl still isn't walking. Can we say princess? She prefers to have her 5'1" mother carry all 26 pounds of her squishy goodness all around. Seriously girl it's getting old. ;) Actually I love that she "needs" me since she's my baby. I know that there won't be anymore for a while so I am soaking this up.

Her hair is growing in like crazy and we have tried to control her mullet. I am LOVING her ponies!

4. We also got to hang out with my globe trotting college roommate this month! Britt has been back from Russia this summer and it was great seeing her and Patrick. By the way, I don't think the boy is ever mad. Seriously he has the sweetest smile/cheeks/face ever.

5. Josh's dad came into town (rather unexpectedly) which was PERFECT since our calendar was wide open this week. He is in the middle of closing on a new house on the Mississippi Gulf Shore. A few years ago he loaned us his sofa table while he wasn't using it. Well he needs it in his new house so he came to grab it (and take me shopping for a new one). I really didn't expect for him to take me shopping, but I had a few sofa tables in mind. There's more to the story and I'll have a separate post for the new one, but we spent the day at Ikea and found something I absolutely love!
Hard to believe that school is right around the corner... got all Luke's supplies and we are ready to meet his teacher next week. And you can bet you will NOT be finding this cheapskate in any store this tax free weekend!!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let's get it straight...

One of the most difficult things to learn about embroidery is how to hoop and how to center a design. It sounds SO EASY but it takes ALOT of practice to get it right.

I'm going to show how to center a design  (including rehooping) and then I'll show examples of how this doesn't always work. If you are reading this and are pretty well read in embroidery then you know the term "hooping" vs. "floating". I started out by hooping everything, but slowly got frustrated because I would pull the shirt too tight and it would cause puckering and small holes. Hooping is quite simply hooping the stabilizer (I prefer precut medium cutaway squares/rectangles for knit shirts) and the shirt all in one step.  I ventured into floating and SWORE by it for a few years. Floating is when you hoop your stabilizer and lay the shirt (or whatever your embroidering) on top of the hoop/stabilizer. You HAVE to attach the garment (either with basting spray, a basting stitch, or pins). I stuck with this method even though it was a pain because it gave me the results I wanted. But about 1 in 5 or so items weren't straight. And I didn't know until I pulled it off the hoop (aka when the project was done) and it was incredibly frustrating. So I went back to hooping because not only did I learn HOW to hoop but I am now getting the results I want. 

So here's my very unprofessional version of hooping AND getting it straight without holes or puckering!

Fold the item in half. I prefer NOT to measure because measurements are different at different areas. Also the tag can be put in crooked or off center, so if you center it to the tag it may be off. I like finding the middle by physically folding the shirt and matching the shoulder seams together.

When it's folded I mark 3 small lines down the middle. Think middle school geometry. Then I connect the lines with a ruler and draw 1 long line down the front center. Oh and did I mention it's REALLY important to get the right marking pen? I have had this baby since I started (4 years ago) and it's still going strong! I found it at Joanns and it has worked perfectly. It comes out of the fabric with a couple squirts of water.

After drawing my 1st line down the center, I line up the ruler and draw 1-2 lines to the left of the center line and 1-2 lines to the right. Like this:
Pretty straightforward right?  (punny- I know I can't help it)

Then I have an unwritten rule that I start the appliqué about 1.5 inches down from the neck. If it's a really big shirt (5T+) I'll start is about 2 inches down. I measure and make a mark at the place I want the appliqué to start. Then I make straight lines with my ruler down. I kind of eyeball it against the neck to check for straightness. I usually go 4-5 lines down.

Then I put my hoop in. The bottom part of the hoop goes inside the shirt with the stabilizer. I ALWAYS use my grid. Always. No exceptions. 
I line the center line of the grid up with the center line I drew. I line the top of the purple grid with the top line I drew. Then I pop the hoop together. 
PSA: See how the purple line on the grid DOESN'T match with the hoop? You CANNOT go by the marking on the hoop or it won't be centered! Always use the grid (is the horse dead?). Neigh.

Pretty simple right? I use this technique on every shirt. Of course now that I have it down it only takes about a minute to get it all marked and hooped. For productivity reasons I usually always have my next 2 projects hooped while my machine is running. I love being able to pop one project off and start the next. 

Now what about a name? I was excited about getting my bigger machine to be able to embroider a larger area. But I've found that I run into the same issue as I did with my smaller machine. If I use a 5x7 design I still usually don't have the space to add a name. About 50% of the time I get lucky and it works in one hooping. But sometimes it doesn't. So here's how to handle that. (I do have the monster 5x12 positional hoop- but many times it's just too large).

Here's an applique I recently did. The minnie head fit in my vertical hoop, but the name "Savannah" didn't- I needed my hoop flipped to 7inches. But the minnie head wouldn't fit horizontally. I was doing 2 identical shirts and one fit in just one hooping and the other didn't so I had to do my best to get the Savannah shirt to match this Maci shirt:
See how I still have my markings intact from the appliqué? (you can even see my "hoop burn" from the first hooping). That mark comes out with a squirt of water- no worries. 
Once again I marked where the top of the name needed to go. That tells me where the top of my grid will go. 
I needed the name to start about half an inch down, so I made my mark and lined up my grid:
Probably the MOST IMPORTANT STEP of this whole process is making sure that your design is actually at the top of the grid!!! This goes for the first appliqué too! So in my program after merging all the letters I moved it to the top. 
I use Sew What Pro as my program simply because it's what I started with. It does everything I need it to do and I have learned it pretty well. There are other programs that offer other things, but I'm too scared to switch now for the learning curve! Oh and to make life a WHOLE LOT EASIER- join your stitches so it will stitch out the whole name without stopping- not letter by letter. 

Once it was done stitching I checked to make sure that the name was about half an inch under the appliqué- Bingo!
And the finished product:
As an example of how our eyes can play tricks on us: Visually, the Savannah looks farther down on the shirt. But it's not because the M is closer to the center and therefore APPEARS closer to the appliqué. I measured 3 times after pulling it off the hoop to double and triple check! 

A quick tip I learned is to always center the second center hooping to the first hooping (by extending the marking lines down). If you recenter the name to the shirt it MAY be off since the measurements down the shirt differ. It shouldn't make a difference but I did a shirt once where I centered the appliqué to the shirt and then centered the name to the shirt and the name wasn't centered on the design. It was incredibly frustrating! So I always center the name to the design!

Here's another example of how our eyes play tricks:
This name is clearly centered to the elephant. The L comes right below the tail and the M is right under the trunk, but the name looks slightly off center because the truck is so large and the tail is so skinny. I didn't have to rehoop this one so I am POSITIVE this is centered (it was centered in my program) but at quick glance it looks "heavy" on the right and light on the left. 

See this start shirt. It's nearly symmetrical so the name looks perfectly centered:
Another great example: 
This bird drives me NUTS because the feet are off center. But according to the design the J is under the beak and the e is under the tail. And if I centered the name to the legs it would be even more off! Haha!

So just a glimpse into the many decisions we as embroiderers have to make! I really think I have arguments with myself back and forth before finally settling on a design. And 99% of the time I center it to design (not to a portion of the design like the feet). Thankfully our computers are awesome in showing us what it will look like before it's done so I can visualize it! Isn't it crazy the number of steps that goes into simply hooping a shirt?!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our New Closet!

A few weeks ago we had California Closet come and re-work our closet. It was a dream of mine to someday have a professional closet company make something new from an existing space.

We loved everything about our home (granite counters, stainless appliances, spacious, good layout, fairly large bedrooms, double vanities, separate tub/shower) and the list could literally go on. But the second we saw the master closet it was a total letdown.

It's smaller than any other bedroom closet in this house. It's considered a walk in, but it's really a step in. You can literally take 1 step in. It came complete with 16in lovely wire shelving (sense my sarcasm?). The closet people told us they were pretty surprised that the builders chose 16inch wire shelves since that takes up more space than traditional 12in. Whatever the problem, it wasn't working.

The main problem was that I use a dresser and Josh doesn't. So all my stuff that doesn't hang (shorts, pants, workout clothes, swimsuits, underwear, socks, etc.) goes in there. He didn't have a place for that. So we utilized bins and baskets and a mis-mash of organizational tools found around the house.

It was so terrible that this was the best before I could find. I couldn't even reach the bins on the top shelf. These are 9 foot ceilings.

First we had to make the decision whether to do this ourselves or hire out. We are typically pretty ambitious but this layout had us stumped. We couldn't figure out another way to arrange it. And even after browsing Lowes and HD (and Pinterest of course) and their storage systems we still couldn't figure out what we actually wanted (or needed). We even contemplated reworking to door to somehow make it less awkward. We considered the option of a pocket door but that would only be possible to the left of the closet and our sinks back up to that wall. I also thought of a sliding barn type door but it would have knocked into the door to our bedroom. Even 2 small doors that open in the center (kind of like Emberly's closet- seen in the 3rd picture there) wouldn't work because we don't have the space to open them out. Taking the door off was discussed but I just couldn't get past the look of a college dorm room (although heck- my college dorm closet was HUGE).

We decided to get 2 quotes from local closet companies: California Closets and Closets by Design. I had never heard of CbyD, but we got a flyer in the mail from them with a coupon attached so we decided to get 2 quotes done in the same week.

Ironically, both companies gave us the same layout (which eased our mind that this was the direction we were headed). But California Closets blew the competition out of the water. CC did the whole mock up right in front of us on her computer. We were able to visualize it by seeing the image 3D and we could manipulate it with the mouse. CbyD only did a 2D drawing on grid paper. Also CbyD could only guarantee their work for 7 years, and their original quote ended up being over $1,000. Then with the coupon it brought it down to $850. We felt like they purposely elevated their prices to them bring them down- whereas California Closets was just the lower price all along. Also CC guarantees their work for the life of the system and the warranty stays with the closet even when we sell (a perk whenever we move). They also generously knocked off 5% for a military discount brining the total to $700! The $700 and $850 would have been the EXACT same closet- same material, color, number of shelves, etc. just so you know I'm comparing apples to apples. We would have had to give up the finishes we wanted and a few shelves to beat the CC price. So we hired California Closets and 2 weeks later ONE MAN was here to install! BTW we didn't pay for them to demolish the old closet. That also saved us about $100. We took the shelving down ourselves and then I went through and speckled the walls and touched up the paint ourselves.

Here were our 2 design decisions. The first one put the shelves on the far wall. (left picture). The photo on the right is from an angle you can't really get to because of the wall/door. But the suits hanging in the right photo would be directly to the right when you walk in the closet.
The second put the shelves on the wall to the right clothes all along the back wall. 

I even posted on Facebook asking for help deciding. What I like about California Closets is they can take any shelf and create a drawer from of it. So if we ever decide to upgrade- they are more than happy to accommodate. For now, it pushed the price too far up but I love the versatility. With that in mind, we opted for the shelves to go on the right wall (the second design), since you'd have to close the door to open a drawer on the far wall. That seemed like too much hassle.

I was really impressed that one man got the job done. We had a hiccup with delivery (his van broke down) but he was here in less than 2 hours and then finished the project super fast (less than 2 hours).
We love that they staggered the heights of the poles to accommodate dresses and suits. And what you can't see is that space at the very top has enough room to store 3 rubbermaid bins. We knew we'd never be able to hang summer and winter clothes at the same time, but it sure makes it easier to keep it all in the closet instead of in one of the kid's rooms or having to trek up to the attic.

We opted to add a bar where the hamper is. This isn't so much for us, but when we move (and if the closet is empty) it won't look like dead space. It actually allows enough space to hang my skirts which was an added bonus.
We thought we'd have to purchase a smaller hamper, but for now old faithful is working great!

I love that since my shirts are shorter than Josh's that it gives a little room for folded sweaters and some jewelry. I could also put more baskets for accessories if needed. I love that our iron can sit there too since we don't have much room in our laundry room.
and speaking of ironing... our ironing board tucks away against this side board nicely:
Also on my little shelf I put a mirror (it's actually not hung yet-see the yellow rim peeking out) just to add a little depth. Not sure what color it will end up being. But for now I like it. And I love this coffee cup holder turned big necklace holder with a little gold spray paint. Sorry for the horrible lighting. Not much you can do with a fluorescent bulb and no natural light. I also love the idea of maybe putting a bulletin board with outfit ideas back there! The possibilities are endless. 
So far Josh loves the shelves. They fit all his stuff plus there is still an empty basket. It's a ton easier to reach (confession: I haven't put his clothes away once even though I promised I would). I think the bins need labels, right? rightttttttt? #procrastinationexcuse
Oh and do you recognize these baskets? Yep I repurposed from our old laundry room. I had painted them key lime and used them to store extra laundry supplies on top of our cabinet. Well the key lime wasn't jivving with this new house, so thankfully spray paint isn't too permanent! **BTW the mirror that lives behind my clothes is also shown in that laundry room post! 

We haven't found a permanent solution for his ties and belts. We could have included that in the price of the closet, but they were around $90 a pop when I can find a much more budget friendly solution elsewhere. We plan to put them on this wall behind the closet door (when it's actually closed). 
My best advice? If you plan to hire out something like this let them know UP FRONT that you have a budget that you want to stick to. We did tell our rep that we were getting multiple opinions/prices but that it was going to come down to the best quality for our $ not necessary the cheapest. By letting her know that upfront she didn't even tempt up with bigger and better. Also anything they add on is going to cost more. So things like tie racks and hampers seem easy to throw in when you're already spending a good chunk of change, but it just doesn't make budget sense. By saving on the tie rack, belt rack and demoing the old closet ourself we save about $300 (that's the difference between a $1k and a $700 closet!). 

Friday, July 18, 2014

H54F!

I haven't updated in 2 weeks! These 2 weeks have been full so It's going to be hard to pick just 5 things.

1. Last week Luke flushed his undies down the toilet. To say I was mad is a total understatement. I sent him to his room because I needed time to cool down. Had to decide whether to call a plumber or "let it go". Conceal, don't feel right? ;)  I emailed Josh at work so he had a heads up and I didn't flush the toilet until I talked to him. Although I'm sure I can handle a toilet overflowing, I didn't really have the patience to deal with it. The good thing? It's been almost 2 weeks of normal use and we haven't had an issue. Thankfully. He learned a lesson and I learned a lesson. I told him he was no longer allowed to flush. Well his bathroom went WAY TOO LONG without being flushed and I legit couldn't be mad him. Lol. So we are back to normal bathroom practices. No more undie flushing!

2. My van had it's 3rd flat tire in 5 months. The second in a week. I was annoyed. We had just spent $180 to get a new tire due to sidewall damage the week before. Thankfully I think this was just neglect and needed a little air. After examining it and not finding any damage we filled her up with air and so far she's been good. So thankful for the tire notification dingy bell that alerts me of a flat!

3. A week ago we had our 10 year high school reunion. It was great to see everyone and it's hard to believe that in 10 years Luke will be 14! Talk about a slap in the face. Luke took a pretty nasty fall at the kiddie pool where we met and when the life guard started talking ambulance and concussion I kinda freaked (of course Josh had left for work 5 minutes before the fall). But he ended up being fine. I watched for signs all afternoon and besides a pretty nasty bump on his head he was good a new.

4. Luke has been attending VBS all week. We registered him at the church where he'll attend preschool this year hoping to get him familiar with some of the kids and surroundings. He has LOVED it and it makes me excited for preschool for him. He needs to be doing something CONSTANTLY so this will be good for him. He hasn't been too thrilled about dressing up as certain things (he's just like his momma), but it has been such a blessing for him to memorize his verses and want to bring in offering. :)
5. I now have 48 items listed on Etsy! I can't wait to break 50 and I have them ready to go but haven't gotten the go ahead from the designers I test for. By the way- I love the testing world! It's the kind of thing that I can do as little or as much as I want. Any design I test I receive for free with the promise of sending a good quality photo. It's a win win! I am gearing up for fall and even *gasp* CHRISTMAS! I have 2 Christmas kitchen towels listed in my shop! Always thinking a season ahead!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Sandbox Turtle

What says childhood better than a turtle sandbox?! It's like the second I had kids I needed one of these.
I kept my eyes out for a while on second hand yard sale sites. I took a break last summer since I knew we were moving and it would be a pain to store- but once we were settled I resumed the search. I actually posted in the "want to buy" section that I was looking for one and someone contacted me with exactly what we needed! The little green turtle!

It was in perfect condition and just needed a little dusting off.

What I didn't expect was the search for sand to be such a pain. Have you read about play sand recently?
Apparently there is a warning on the bags of play sand that the airborne dust particles can carry carcinogens which can cause lung cancer... ummm last I checked I try to avoid carcinogens and lung cancer. And protect my kids from them. and for that to be in PLAY SAND? Intended for use in children's play areas?! That's terrifying. Of course I can't protect them from everything. But from the things I can protect them from- I will.

So my idea shifted to plan B. There HAS to be safe sand right? Not all sand contains calcium sulfate. A quick search on amazon brought up this sand:
It claims to be free of silica and all the other "bad stuff" that's in typical play sand. But At $30 for 25lbs I read somewhere that I'd need about 3 bags to fill the turtle. And after having saved so much on the turtle I didn't want to blow it on $90 worth of sand.

Another sand alternative is to buy river sand which comes literally from the ground. It's typically quartz I believe and although it can still create dust, it's not as bad as the manufactured stuff. But we don't have a truck and I couldn't imagine getting a delivery to our deck- that 2 stories high. So sand was officially scratched from our list.

We also questioned whether sand would be good since our AC until is below our deck and also our driveway. We worried that a lot of sand would be lost by being thrown down.

There's good news! There are some alternatives to sand. A few I found are:
1. pebbles. Kids can still fill cups and dump trucks with them. Again being over the AC until and living VERY close to neighbors (and drive by cars) we just didn't think pebbles were a great idea.
2. rice. Another good idea. But I saw that getting costly too. Plus isn't that bad for birds? Plus if it gets wet I worried about it rotting.
3. corn. Again I worried about rotting.

And those were pretty much the alternatives I found. Womp. So as I was sitting enjoying our patio furniture I tried thinking of ideas. Heck, my kids enjoyed playing in it empty! I also thought to maybe just fill it with water and let them go for it.

It suddenly hit me- what about a ball pit? Remember those? And ewwwww the ones at Mc. Donalds where kids probably used the bathroom in- remember the smell? #itdidntgrossmeoutthen

But balls were out because, again, I could see my kids finding great joy in throwing them at neighbors passing by. So I decided to grab some pool noodles.
I thought they would probably be fun to stack, and hide under. And at $1 a pop they were super inexpensive. I started with 4 and that clearly wasn't enough.
So why that size? I'm so glad you asked. Although they can fall off the deck because they aren't wide enough- I wanted to make them tall enough to not fall down. If it doesn't seem to be an issue I may cut them even smaller. But I wanted to see how this went first. So far the kids LOVE it.

By the way they are super easy to cut. Luke snuck out of bed one night and watched me and I heard him crying inside. When I asked what was wrong he said he was sad that I was cutting up his pool noodles. I assured him that I had bought more and his were still down in the garage. I guess the punishment for being out of bed was watching his beloved noodles die a slow painful death by stabbing and slicing.
I ended up buying 4 more to fill the pool out. So $8 total was the cost (after the $15 for the turtle). Not a shabby "sandbox" for under $25!
We did make sure that the sandbox is against the house, not the railings. Wouldn't want to tempt my little people too much. Plus since they're not round if one does get loose it's not going to roll down the street into the sewer or anything crazy. I'm sure Luke will feel like a big helper going to retrieve them!
I feel like my life is complete now that this sandbox has a purpose!


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Deck: Paint and Progress

Having some sort of deck was on our shortlist when we purchased our home. We enjoyed our last deck so much (and then tore it apart and had it rebuilt) and tend to spend a lot of time outdoors with the kiddos when we have somewhere to sit.

Almost every house we looked at had a deck. And some were in pretty pitiful shape. I guess it's just destined to happen when wood is left exposed to the elements. But decks are expensive!

When we first laid eyes on our house we weren't sure how a deck would work since the garage was around back. But when we walked through and realized that the house was actually 3 stories- it totally made sense.

One of the first things we noticed was that the deck was in pretty rough shape. This house is approximately 7 years old, and I think that's the last time the deck was painted. Thankfully since it's a story off the ground it's supported by metal beams that are secured in concrete.

Since this is a townhouse with an HOA we were told at closing that they were actually going to refinish the deck for us- wow really?! 

Well we closed in the middle of December and January 1st we received a memo from the HOA that all doors, windows, and decks were being turned over to the homeowners. Just our luck right? They still take care of anything siding and roof related. But it was kind of a bummer realizing that we'd have to take care of it. But it's not really THAT big and a generous neighbor passed down his paint when he finished his- so we got 1/2 a can of paint out of it. We did have to purchase more since 1 gallon wasn't enough- but I didn't even know how to match the paint color- so the hand me down paint was actually a blessing. 

It seems like we're always working outside in the middle of the summer. I guess it's how we roll- speaking of rolling this was a pretty straightforward process. We pressure washed first (and used some dawn for extra cleaning), waited for it to dry, then sanded, and finally painted (with a brush and roller). 



Some of the boards had wide cracks so we wanted to really push the paint into the cracks. Then a roller made everything smooth. Not sure why I keep saying WE. I didn't lift a finger painting. Figured I needed to say that in case hubs is reading.

Disclaimer? We didn't do the rails and posts. This weather has been CRAY this year! I mean suddenly we live in the tropics and get a rain storm every afternoon. So we had to work around that. Oh and Josh's work schedule. And life with 2 crazy babes. 

I do plan to go back and do the rails slowly. Someday.

Pressure washing took 1 day. Sanding took another. And then painting took 2 days. We didn't do 2 thin coats (like usual) but opted for one thick coat which took a little longer. 

All our deck stuff lived inside (including our grill in our living room) while the painting took place and we lived in chaos for a few days. As soon as it was dry everything went back out. Ironically the same weekend Target had 50% off all their patio furniture. I scouted everything out one day- took an unnatural number of pictures and made note of prices. I brought all my research home and we hashed out what we actually wanted/needed. 

We actually have a patio set at our old house but we left it for our tenants to use (and wrote it in the lease). We were planning to get it after a year, but realized mid December that we had no way to transport it and it wasn't really worth the trouble to bring it here. So we'll be leaving it. Once we figured this out we felt comfortable moving forward with the 50% off sale. 

We visualized a little seating area and then a smallish table with enough chairs for us. When I did my "research" trip I found the perfect loveseat that would fill the space. Josh and I typically try to consult each other on purchases more than $100 so I felt like we really needed to talk before I pulled the trigger. This was 6pm on a Friday night. 

We discussed everything and I made my list and got out early Saturday morning. Would you believe that someone else swiped the ONLY loveseat there? I was floored. I put on my game face and kept going. I ended up finding a seating situation that fit the bill. It was a little more than the original plan, but in the end I think I really like the 2 separate chairs. I think the loveseat would have felt... awkward especially if you're sitting next to someone who isn't your husband. 

I loaded up 2 carts, and with the help of a nice associate got it all paid for and loaded. 

Our deck today looks a little something like this-

This is the far corner to the right of the door.
The side of our house is yellow and our grill is red- so I wanted a nice neutral compromise. I would love to find some throw pillows that incorporate the yellow, red, navy and possibly aqua blue to tie it all together.
Because this side of the house gets direct western sun, it's gorgeous out here in the morning and for lunch- but by dinner it's pretty hot. We'll eventually get an umbrella. Just want to find a large one that's pretty sturdy and has good reviews. Now THAT'S hard to come by!
This kind of gives you a better idea of how small this space actually is. The table does have 4 chairs that will live out here, but while we wait for the rest of our indoor handmade farmhouse bench to be made they are filling a need inside. 
And I have another post in the hopper about what's inside Mr. Turtle. It's a mess free, practically germ free, and cheap alternative to a sand box. 

On the other side of the deck is the grill and my green bean garden. Seriously don't be hatin'. We lived in a house with half and acre and  I never grew ANYTHING. We now live in a town house without a yard and I'm obsessed with gardening. Go figure. And it's practically the only thing that I can keep alive (besides my kids of course). 

We love sitting out here and sipping coffee in the morning. 
By the way- am I the only one or do you ever feel like waiting for a sale is like gambling? I was SOLD on an outdoor rug. But it was the only thing in the patio section that wasn't on sale. So I bought it. But I questioned myself over and over "will it go on sale?" "what if it ends up being $15 instead of $30?" And I have this debate in my head in the store. I usually try to think what I would feel if I let it go and would I be disappointed trying to find another or is this one perfect? Ultimately I decided to buy it. I did leave the tags on for a week just in case, but I checked back a few days ago and 3 weeks later and it's still full price. And there was only 1 left. So I say it was well worth the purchase!