Road Trip

We’re heading north to Squamish, BC for the weekend to learn how to climb on actual rock, as opposed to that artificial stuff at our local indoor climbing gym. We love you, VW, but it’s time to expand our horizons.

In the meantime, I thought I’d leave you guys with a few of my favorite things lately…

  • It seems like everyone is as obsessed with Pinterest as I am these days, and now there are lots of cool shops adding to the fun. I’m really digging the boards from BHLDN and West Elm. I wonder if they would consider hiring a professional pinner…
  • I still can’t stop thinking about terrariums. There are so many great DIY tutorials out there, but this one really speaks to my inner child.
  • Charlie and Lily need a new scratcher STAT. This scratch-friendly lounger combines form and function. And it’s on sale!

Home Sweet Holidays: Tradition. TRADITION!

Growing up, we had plenty of holiday traditions, including picnicking and watching fireworks at Miller Outdoor Theater on the 4th of July. Since Dave and I have moved around so much, we haven’t really been able to form our own holiday traditions – something I miss dearly.

For 4th of July this year, we decided to celebrate a day early by gathering our small group of friends and having a beach bonfire. Actually, there were as many friends as there were strangers at our bonfire, but the more the merrier, right?

Photo by David Grant

We made s’mores, watched sailboats glide through the bay, and soaked up the beauty of the sun setting over the Olympic Mountains. It was so much fun, I think we’ll do it again next year. Tradition!

Photo by Bri Leahy

Do you prefer to spend holidays continuing old traditions with family or have you started new traditions with people you’ve picked up along the way?

Tomato and Basil

My balcony is thriving! Well, almost thriving. I’ve got some dying succulents – they hate being indoors, they hate being outdoors – a Tigerella tomato plant that’s about to outgrow its terracotta planter, and newly planted Amethyst Improved basil.

My tomato plant was generously gifted by a coworker. After successfully growing Czech’s Plant tomatoes last year, I decided a bigger plant couldn’t be too different. To anyone hesitant to grow tomatoes – they are easier than you think.

Tigerella is also known as Mr. Stripey. How cute is that?

I never knew basil came in purple! It’s going to look beautiful on a plate of striped tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Unfortunately, it turns brownish gray when cooked or processed, making sauces look unappetizing. I guess I’ll have to buy the green variety if I want fresh pesto.

Growing produce is fun and easy in small doses, but it definitely gives me a new appreciation for farmers. Hungry for more agricultural knowledge? The Real Dirt on Farmer John is an excellent documentary about the struggles that come with farming and why we should join a local CSA.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It’s a rare sun-filled day here in Seattle, which makes me want to get outdoors and start working on a vegetable garden. While limited space is an obstacle with apartment living, that won’t stop me from utilizing every inch of my balcony for planting and admiring my produce. I’ve rounded up the goods for growing a great small-space garden.

Shown above:

(Images: See links for full image credits.)

Balcony Barbecue

It doesn’t seem like it will ever warm up here in the Pacific Northwest. If it wasn’t for the pops of color around town – accompanied by seasonal allergies – I would swear it’s still winter. Occasionally, we get teases of sunshine and days that grasp for the 70-degree mark, but right now I’m looking out the balcony windows at rainy, gray weather. To liven up the mood around here, I’ve put together everything you need for the perfect balcony barbecue. Who says you need a big backyard for grillin’ dogs?

Not only is this little table top grill by Eva Solo super cute, you can take it anywhere!

My mama used to wash the dog in one of these. But galvanized tubs are also affordable, sturdy, and great for icing down drinks.

Mason jars double as eco-friendly glassware. Add a little chalkboard spray paint and guests can label their drink glasses! Pure genius.

How perfect are these melamine plates by Martin Yeeles? They’re a little pricey to have enough plates for each guest, but they would be great for serving appetizers and arranging burger toppers.

Add a splash of color with these biodegradable stripey straws from Jack and Lulu.

Fill this drink dispenser with your favorite lemonade, sun tea, or moonshine.

These dolled-up paper lanterns are so pretty and festive. If there’s no room on the balcony, hang them around the apartment to bring the party indoors.

No need for the party to end when the sun sets. Not only do these porcelain string lights dress up the balcony, they illuminate s’more assemblage and provide mood lighting for ghost stories.

Hungry for more balcony barbecue inspiration? Head over to here. Tell your friends to BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) and fire up the grill. Summer is just around the corner!

A Salvaged Side Table

I’ve been on an “out with the old…” kick lately. While shopping for new stuff is fun, it’s expensive and leaves me feeling empty. This small pedestal table lived in the guest bedroom of our Chicago apartment. We didn’t take the best care of it upon moving to Seattle, leaving it to deteriorate out in the elements –  and with all the rain, snow, hail, and sunshine we’ve had, deteriorate it did.

Rather than abuse the table further by kicking it to the curb, I decided to give it a little love and a second life as a patio side table. I did my best to sand and buff the rough and warped spots but couldn’t smooth them all out. Then I used a weather resistant spray paint to give it a fresh color and added a couple of ceramic tea light holders.

It looks pretty good, don’t you think?

Ideas for the Balcony

We are wrapping up our first Seattle winter. Coming from Chicago, Seattle’s winter isn’t so bad, but the gray dampness of it is starting to wear on me. I’ve been daydreaming of the perfect balcony since December. Since our apartment is situated on the side of a steep hill, we have a nice view of the neighborhood and mountains in the distance. I can’t wait to entertain friends out there or just hang out with Dave on summer evenings.

I think some sort of lighting is necessary, like these simple string lights. A bird feeder hanging in front of the big picture window would be fun for the cats.  I’d love to have a vertical garden of succulents or herbs. A few of these metal tables would be great as plant stands or a place to set your beer. We have some wooden folding chairs, but I like this affordable bench for when we have guests over. And we definitely need a hammock or two – for the cats, of course. I’m still in search of the perfect nautical stripe outdoor rug, but maybe the bare floor is just fine.