Monday, May 11

A beautiful day

Yesterday was a special day for our family.  After facing serious adversity over the past four years, including a stroke last September, our son Preston graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Boy, were we looking forward to that ceremony.  But here's a glimpse of our view during the grand processional.  The arrow points to our son.

Just barely visible beyond that grey and white umbrella.

At least the umbrellas around us didn't completely obscure our view.  And thank God we had our own umbrellas, so at least we didn't get completely drenched during the speeches.  We got awfully damp, though.

I had worked hard to style my hair just perfectly for the big day. . . and look at it, just laying there in an auburn mess.

And so much for the beautiful photos we'd planned to take by the Old Well or the Bell Tower.  We were lucky to get this indoor shot of our whole family.

Nothing like the glare of fluorescent lights to produce the best family portrait.  Oy.

For some reason, I've recently noticed a lot of posts and articles about ways to insure that special days go just the way you want them to.  There are Pinterest boards and Facebook groups and myriad other forums for exchanging tips on how to have the perfect wedding, the perfect party, the perfect birthing experience.  You name it; there's a plan for making it perfect.  In perhaps the worst example I've seen, one British travel company even offers a cloud-busting service to "guarantee perfect wedding day weather." 

Can you imagine? I think we might have gotten out of control in our desire to be in control.

As much as I understand the desire to control circumstances, particularly on special occasions, it occurs to me that this pursuit is not very good training for life.  In real life, there will be lots of rainy days.  Lots of letdowns.  Lots of disappointments.  Lots of less-than-perfect photos.  

Rather than spending all our time trying to control circumstances, I think we'd be better served learning to control our responses to circumstances.  Rather than investing our resources in trying to prevent letdowns and disappointments, we should learn that disappointments are a part of life--but they don't have to ruin our life.   

Yesterday's cloudy skies reminded of this old poem, dearly loved by my mother and grandmother:

*Click here for a printable copy.*

The road to our son's graduation was not a smooth road, that's for sure.  His graduation day didn't boast blue skies.  But things don't have to be perfect to be beautiful, right?

Beautiful sounds good to me.

Tuesday, May 5

Porch weather

One of my favorite things about this time of year is that the weather is just perfect for enjoying time on the porch.  The cold weather is past, the pollen onslaught is over, and the hot weather hasn't arrived yet.  So it was time for me to make some updates to my front porch!

When we were house hunting 11 years ago, I really wanted a covered entry.  We'd always had a front door that opened to the elements, and I was hoping for some kind of roof over the front door.  Little did I dream that I'd end up with not only a covered front door but also a front porch!

Here's how my house looks as you walk up to it.  You can see the sitting area tucked off to the right of the door.

Many people have told me that when they get to this point, they just want to stop and hang out here!

Having a covered front porch is a delight for us.  I decided to furnish the porch as an outdoor living room, and that's exactly how we use it.

When we'd lived in our house for a year, we invested in this outdoor furniture.  The all-weather wicker furniture is from the "Camino Real" collection made by Lane Venture (no affiliation; just happy with the product!).  This is the ninth season for the furniture, and the frames are still very sturdy. I'm guessing that next year I'll need to get new seat cushions, but by then these will have been out here year-round for 10 years.  

The new throw pillows are bright and cheerful.  The fabric is a cotton screen print from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation called "Sheraton Ikat."  I made the pillows myself using this easy tutorial.

The ottoman is a project from several years ago.  I made it myself from an Omaha Steaks cooler!  I hated to throw away that super-sturdy styrofoam box, and I realized it would be just the right size for an ottoman.  I looked for fabric to coordinate with the Sheraton Ikat print.  When I couldn't locate just what I wanted, I decided to go with a drop cloth.  

To add a custom touch, I simply taped off a border around the top after I finished the upholstery work.  I chose a craft paint in one of the colors from the throw pillows and used a foam stencil brush to apply the paint.  As you can see, I was so aggressive with my foam brush that I ended up breaking off the foam tip.  But I'm so pleased with how the ottoman turned out!  (For a full tutorial on making the ottoman, click here.)

To coordinate with the ottoman, I made a lumbar pillow from drop cloth and painted its edges, too. A very simple and inexpensive way to create a custom look!

Our outdoor rug had not fared well, so I found a new one at Target.  This one is called "Azure Diamond" from the Smith and Hawken line.

The lamps were also Target finds from many years ago.  I updated them this spring with simple drum shades that I sprayed liberally with ScotchGuard.  One lamp sits along with a few accessories on this antique desk my parents gave me many years ago.  My favorite thing is the little clock.  It looks old, but it's actually from the Better Homes & Gardens line at Walmart.  It's nice to be able to keep track of the time when I'm sitting out here.  Time flies when you're having fun!

The other lamp is a floor lamp that sits beside this little table that changes color from time to time courtesy of spray paint.  Currently it's wearing a coat of Robin's Egg by Rustoleum.  The obelisks in the corner I've had for years.  The chalkboard I created from a Goodwill painting; I simply spray painted the frame (Heirloom White by Rustoleum) and then covered the painting with chalkboard paint.  It's fun to add seasonal messages.  The "antique" ceiling tiles are copper pieces I found for a few dollars; I spray painted them with Heirloom White and distressed them so they'd look antique.

I've discovered over the years that wall decor for my porch needs to be pretty sturdy.  I've tried several things in this little space over the sofa, but I've never been completely satisfied until I found these Letterpress Blocks from DaySpring.  These are just right for the space!

I'm so happy with the way my porch is looking now!  Wish you could come and sit a spell with me!

I'm sharing this post at these wonderful parties:
Inspire Me Monday at Sand and Sisal
Fabulous Party at LouLou Girls
Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life
One Project at a Time at A Bowl Full of Lemons