Yesterday we went exploring. Nick and I both had a busy Sunday full of work from home and we were feeling a bit stressed and grumpy so we decided to drop everything for the afternoon and head over to the city for a free outdoor concert in Golden Gate Park. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones with this idea and parking was kah-ra-zay... So we decided to scrap the concert plans and explore a lesser populated part of the city. As much as we love San Francisco, we tend to stay downtown, and Bay side for the most part. Today our "travels" took us to a new destination; Ocean Beach, an expanse of San Francisco coastline.
We parked at the top of a small cliff, with a beautiful view of the ocean and the practically empty beach.
There were many hang gliders that soared silently above us as we hiked down to the beach.
Lucy led the way down to the water.
Along the way, we stopped and admired the scenery.
Once we made it down to the beach, we walked along the water's edge...
while Lucy happily fetched a piece of driftwood from the surf.
We enjoyed a peaceful walk on the beach, away from the hustle of the busy city and the stress of work. For three hours, we had the perfect Sunday getaway with our favorite girl. It's days like these that remind us how grateful we are for all the beautiful blessings in our lives.
Sometimes it's nice to get away from it all; even if you only spend an afternoon driving less than twenty miles away from home. A mini-break is rejuvenating and the perfect way to start a new work week.
Of course, some of us find these little jaunts to be a wee bit tiring as well....
It's summer- time to party! During the summer, Nick and I tend to have more guests over, host more parties, and partake in happy hour a bit more often than the rest of the year. I decided to create a little home bar area so that we would be ready for an impromptu gathering during these warm months. The perfect place for our makeshift bar is the built-in shelves in our breakfast nook. The shelves have looked more or less like this for the last five months:
Yesterday, I cleared off the shelves and found new homes for all my tchotchkes and made room for our new summer bar.
The first step was to pull out all the alcohol from the lower cabinet that we drink most frequently. I corralled the bottles on a wooden tray and added a pretty bowl of lemons. I also added our alcohol shaker and ice bucket to this shelf. (I'm on the lookout for a more interesting ice bucket, but this one works for now!)
On the bottom shelf, I used a low, square basket to hold glassware. I put a couple wine glasses, champagne flutes, pilsner glasses, and cocktail glasses. We have complete sets of glasses in the cabinet below the shelves, but this basket provides quick access to our most used barware.
Right next to the glassware, I added a pretty little wooden bowl to keep bar tools handy.
After I added the essentials to our home bar, I stylized it a little with mirrors and greenery. The turquoise lantern on the lower shelf is a cheap find from last summer. I like how the touches of turquoise, green and white give the bar area a tropical feel, perfect for summer.
It never fails to happen... when Nick or I go to light a candle we inevitably spend time looking for the matches. Since they are in the typical big red box, we don't like to leave them in plain sight and usually shove them in whatever drawer is closet to the candle we just lit.
Yesterday I decided to do something about our matchbox misplacement. After I spent 10 minutes searching all the drawers in our apartment for the darn things, I started on this little project.
Remember the pretty candle-in-a-tin that I bought from Pier One?
Well the candle lasted all of one week, but we kept the tin out because it was so pretty. I decided the tin would be the perfect place to store our matches.
The first thing I did was put the candle in the freezer. This loosened the wax from the side of the tin and made the remains of the candle slide easily into the trash can, leaving me with an empty tin.
Next, I filled the tin with the matches from the original matchbox (rocket science, I know!)
I cut a piece out of the strikey-side of the matchbox (my technical term) and used some gorilla glue to affix it to the lid of the tin. Tricky, tricky...
Now we have a pretty match container that doesn't need to be hid in a drawer.
And that's how I solved our matchbox dilemma in 5 minutes flat (plus freezing time).
Yesterday, I wrote all about my brother's graduation party which I helped to orchestrate. Today I want to chat a little bit about the food. Shall we? Someone (okay, it was me) decided that it would be a fabulous idea to serve EVERYTHING on skewers... Fun, right?! My sister, who was a main food-skewerer didn't agree, but nonetheless we put all the key foods on skewers and then stuck the skewers into fun color-coordinated pails.
My parents served grilled veggie and meat kabobs, fruit skewers, and tasty roasted potato skewers. For an appetizer, we made antipasto skewers. These included: three types of cheese (cheddar, parmesan, and mozzarella), peperoncini, black olives, stuffed green olives, salami, and sourdough bread. We alternated ingredients as we prepared the skewers.
These skewers were a big hit and the perfect serving size for an appetizer. So (although my sister wouldn't agree) next time you have a big party, consider skewering it for a unique menu.
Summer has officially started, with school ending last week and the temperatures creeping into the 80s and 90s. We started our summer off with a bang, celebrating my brother's graduation party on Saturday. The weather was perfect, the food was plentiful, and the decorations were lovely.
My brother's favorite color is green so we decided to have a green/blue color combo for the party- classic summer colors. My mom and I dreamed up the party details and many family members came together to execute the plans. Here's what we ended up with:
Festive paper flowers suspended over the laden dessert table.
Craft paper flags galore adorning most windows, some with words, some plain.
Little vignettes that my mom created, even in the "non-party" rooms.
Matt's high school memory board proudly on display.
A green, yellow, and blue balloon garland swaging the area around the pool.
A dessert table to satisfy all appetites.
My brother's love of reading and plans to major in English set the ton for this particular table.
Matthew's former love of Winnie-the-Pooh was evident in the beautiful graduation cakes my mom baked. My dad constructed the bridge from one cake to the other about an hour before the party.
These little graduation hat took a painfully long time to make, but added to the buffet of desserts.
The party was so much fun and the perfect way to usher in yet another summer!
Today my little men are graduating Kindergarten! This school year has flown by and I can't believe how mature they've become in the last 10 months. There's a school of thought that suggests we over-graduate kids (pre-K, K, 5th, 8th, high school....) but after all the hard work and the amazing growth my kids have made in this first year of "real" school, I think they deserve a little kudos.
Luckily for me, my class will be expanding to a K-1, so I get to see my students again in first grade.
So as I put on my tall shoes for the day (so as not to be mistaken for a graduate, haha), I know my sweet students will show up in their fancy ties and sing their little hearts out when it's time to preform our graduLation songs. It feels great to end another wonderful year of teaching.
Next up on our extreme balcony makeover is the L-shaped bench that we created for the outdoor seating. Being the tricky people that we are, we decided to use tables to make a bench. Three tables, in fact. We went to IKEA and bought the LACK side table, times three. At $7.99 a piece, they were easy on the budget.
Now you might be thinking, is a side table from IKEA really sturdy enough to be used as seating? And the answer, my friends, is yes. I have a couple of these tables in my classroom and have sat on them many times with nary a wobble.
We assembled the tables but three together took up too much space on the balcony. So we decided to work with two at a time and come back to the L-shapped portion later on.
We then took the tables up to the roof, where I sprayed the tops with spray adhesive to attach a 2 inch thick foam pad (previously cut to size).
The adhesive didn't work too well, but we decided that since we were stapling fabric around the "bench," the staples could hold the foam in place.
I used a thick cotton material that I had laying around (read: free) to cover the cushion. Since three sides of the bench would be hidden, I didn't worry about visible staples and just folded and stapled the fabric around the outside of the bench (except for the front).
Next on our to-do was the third part of the bench, which we wanted to be longer and skinner than the LACK piece. Fortune was on our side yet again, and we had a board that was the perfect length and width. Since we wanted the bench to looks as seamless as possible, we attached the legs from our third LACK to the board. This was done by my handy husband in six easy steps:
1. Measure where the holes are in the existing table legs.
2. Trace around the legs onto the corners of the board.
3. Measure where to drill a hole into the board (based on previous measurements of legs).
4. Drill hole
5. Attach leg to board.
6. Reinforce each leg with a second screw. Nick drilled the second screw further inside from the first one, so that he wouldn't split the wood by drilling too close to the edge.
Because the board is longer and the legs are farther apart, we will likely reinforce this board at some point so that it doesn't start to bend in the middle.
We had scraps of foam from various other projects so I layered a 1 inch thick piece on top of a 2 inch thick piece to create a cushy (and tall enough seat). Next, I stapled the remaining fabric around this bench (following the same method outlined above).
Then we put the two benches together in the corner of our balcony.
This was another low-cost project, since we had a number of the materials on hand:
3 Ikea LACK tabes: $24
1 piece of foam cut to size: $33
Fabric: already owned, free
Board: already owned, free
Pillows: taken from around our home, free
Total cost: $57
Obviously this is where we spent the most of our $113 budget, but since it is the major piece of furniture on the balcony, it was well worth it.
We may change the fabric sometime in the future, to something a little less florally... Annnd I need to get rid of the clutter we stashed under the bench (we are still trying to find the least conspicuous spot for Henry's little box).
However, it's definitely an improvement over the yikes-inducing before!
I'm Jessica- momma to Hayden and Charlotte and wife to Nicholas. I live in the New Jersey, work from home as a part-time educational game designer, and love chatting about design, DIY, fashion, and motherhood.