Goodwill Patio Umbrella Rehab


Way back when we made our road trip on the Alcan, we hauled back an outdoor umbrella we found at a Portland Goodwill for $12.99.  One of the arms was broken, but the hubs assured me he could fix it, so I couldn’t pass it up at that price.  It hid out in the shed for a while, but now that the deck furniture is in place we were ready for a little shade.


The hubs used a left over piece of molding we had laying around to make it operational again.  I plan to eventually paint it to match the rest of the framework, but it’s not super noticeable so it’s not a high priority.


I picked up a weighted base at Pier 1 with reward points so it was free as well.  It took a few tries to find the right size pipe to join the umbrella and base, but the winner ended up being just $12 and the one that didn’t work out will be used for another project, so it’s not a loss.  I plan to paint the pipe to match the base, but again, not a huge priority since it’s the end of the season.


So the grand total for the umbrella and base was just $24.99.  That’s pretty minimal compared to $70+ for umbrellas in the retail catalogs plus another $70-150 for a weighted base.  Now we’re living the “fancy” life for a bargain price! 🙂

Big Plans for the Back Yard

Although the house is still under construction and we won’t move in until late fall, we’ve already been thinking about what we want the back yard to look like.  The builder will install a 20′ x 12′ deck off the family room – where the three ‘pink’ footers are in the picture below.  We specifically requested an additional slider door be included in our Master Bedroom rather than just a window so we can have back yard access on that side too.  The builder will provide basic ‘steps’ at that door for now, but next season we plan to build a deck to match the one on the other side.


We had originally planned to continue the deck out the entire length of the house, but we decided it would be easier and more cost effective to have the two decks with a ground-level patio in between so that the hot tub could sit lower than the deck which eliminates the need to ‘climb’ into it.  Plus I won’t fret about the deck being stable enough to support a full hot tub!

I also like the idea of breaking the space up into different areas for different purposes.  I’m envisioning something like this on our ‘private’ Master Bedroom deck for lounging and a dining set on the deck off the family room.  On the patio below I would like to make something like this where guests could sit and relax near a fire pit which will be made from this free washing machine tub we snagged on Craigslist last week!


The plan is to use pavers like this or stamped concrete like this on the patio, then use landscaping stones to create a spot that the drum will slide into.  Eventually we’d like to have one or both decks screened in or at least covered by a pergola with some sort of rain protection to extend the usability in our short summer season.  But that of course is a year or five down the road.

Beyond the decks and patio we plan to have grass for the dogs.  Depending on when we get into the house, we might buy some of the ‘end of season clearance seed’ to put out and see what we get, but most likely we will have the yard hydroseeded next spring.  I was stunned to find out that they charge just $395 if the area to be seeded is less than 3,000 sq. ft.  Um, yeah!  Sounds good to me!  Definitely better than the Craigslist ad I saw for free sod if you come cut up and haul off some guy’s yard!  I might be thrifty, but I know my time is valuable and I’d spend a whole lot more digging up, hauling and replanting his old “who knows what’s in it” grass than paying the out call to have fresh, weed free grass growing within 2 weeks!  Knowing us we’ll measure out everything before we schedule and make sure we’re just under that figure. We should be able to do an L-shape around the back and side of the house well within that figure.  🙂

I don’t have much landscaping beyond the deck-patio-deck and lawn planned for the back yard, but I will probably put a small flower bed along the bedroom side of the house for perennials like bulbs and hostas.  Our garden will be to the right of the deck off the family room in the alcove created between the side o the house and 3rd bay of the garage, which you can see on the right edge of the photo above.  Watch for a post about that plan next week!

Our Little Oasis

Summer time has finally arrived here in Alaska and that means it’s time to get outside and soak it up before winter descends again in a few short months.  Luckily, our rental house has a little balcony right off the main living room that is a perfect spot to sit and enjoy an evening chat.  Unfortunately it was looking a little sparse when we first moved in this winter.  So I decided to make it a bit more inviting.

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I had already picked up two strawberry plants at the farmers market last weekend, which would be hung in the two square baskets I already had.  But I was going to need a lot more than two strawberry baskets to save this sad little balcony.  The first thing I knew I wanted to add was some chairs, because you can’t sit and relax without those!  I contemplated purchasing some plastic chairs but didn’t want to spend almost $20 a pop – especially knowing we probably wouldn’t use them again when we move.  Then I remembered we had ‘camping chairs’ which would fit well in the space.  Although the chairs have a cup holder built in, I still wanted a little table in between to hold a few little things when necessary.  I also knew we needed some flowers to liven up this space.  So list in hand, I headed for the largest nursery in town.


I was literally amazed at this place.  Not only do they have a HUGE green house full of every type of plant that grows in Alaska, they have 3 HUGE green houses!  Plus they had a coffee bar and cafe along with a large gift shop!  They are are so big they even do bridal registries!  I could have spent all. day. long. here and still not seen everything they had.

TableThe first thing I found was a little stool that I thought would work nicely as a table for the chairs and can later become a photo prop or garden stool.  At $26 it wasn’t a super bargain, but I thought it was fairly priced. I knew it would compliment the blue chairs and make a perfect spot for one of the little citronella pots we brought with us from Kodiak.  I love how the blues and greens all work together – creating a natural soothing palette.  It’s almost like I planned it! 🙂

I picked out marigolds and lobelia to fill the rail baskets we already had, but when I went to hang them I realized the hooks were for a smaller top rail.  Lucky for me, my ingenious hubby figured out how to tweak the hooks so they would work on this taller board. Love that man! Hopefully the marigolds add to the citronella and keep the bugs at bay so we don’t spend our evenings swatting the air.  BerriesI also snagged a lavender plant for the pretty grey pot I had planted seeds in, which never spouted.

After I’d planted the strawberries in the hanging baskets I had to figure out where and how to hang them.  I had these pretty bird brackets I’d purchased on for our new house several months ago and decided we should start enjoying them now.  The hubs put up the brackets where I asked and I think they look great.

Near the check out we spotted a stand of nautical bell wind chimes and tested them all out to find the perfect tone (hopefully the neighbors agree!).  We selected one with a dog at the end of the chime rather than the typical Alaskan bear, moose or salmon because it was more symbolic of our little family.  Granted neither of our girls have tails, but they didn’t have a chime with a ‘nubby’ dog! LOL  Although it was a bit of a splurge at $68, I’ve wanted one for a long time and I knew that was the standard cost for something of that size and weight, Dogespecially when you don’t have to pay shipping!

I brought a wrought iron piece out from inside to give the space a little extra flair and then placed the cherry tomato plant I snagged during another trip to the farmers’ market for just $10 under it.  We already have a few tomatoes about ready to be picked and enjoyed!

I topped everything off with the little rug we already had so there’s a comfy spot to wipe any dirt off your feet before coming back inside.  The hubs replaced the ripped screen so we can also enjoy the breeze from outside even when we are inside.  But the best part is that everything we’ve done (except the repaired screen) can be taken down and brought to our new house as soon as it’s ready.  So here’s the finished product.  What do you think?

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I think I’ll light my little citronella pot, sit and enjoy a nice little chat with my hubby after dinner tonight!