Potting Bench, Stepping Stones Birthday Surprise

There was a thunderstorm, a  neighborhood transformer blew, my computer suffered the dreaded ‘blue screen of death.’ I’ve been tooling with it, but it is still a little wonky. Oh, well.


I am very fortunate that I have a relatively healthy family, sleep in a cozy bed and am able to set a table. But sometimes I do take life for granted.


For instance . . . One recent evening, my sister and I were sitting outside with a glass of wine. While we lazed about doing absolutely nothin’, my sister commented how much she liked my potting bench that my husband had constructed a few years ago.

Saw Man aka Pyro Man
Saw Man aka Pyro Man

My sister is a young widow with two daughters. Her birthday is just around the corner at the end of July. Well . . . this was a no brainer. My mom and other sister and I purchased the wood and Saw Man went to work.


Not to be outdone, her daughters gathered garden chimes, gloves, spades and pots of flowers. I showed them how to make cement stepping stones. We used bits of shells, beads and glass that we had on hand and picked up other supplies from Michael’s.


Didn’t they turn out lovely?

Loving Hand


I love it when you can brighten someone’s day, don’t you?

BTW, my sister texted an image with: “I love it!”

Happy B-Day!

Have a good week!- – Joanne

Pergola Canopy v. Thunderstorms

Thunderstorms = New Pergola Canopy

 We spend a lot of time in our backyard, especially in the summer. Our backyard patio needed architectural definition and additional seating for entertaining.


Two summers ago, my brilliant husband designed and built our lovely and simple large pergola.

Douley & Phoebe Photo Bomb

It measures 12′ wide x 22′ long, with four outside and two middle posts and a middle beam support.

12’W by 22’L

With the middle crossbeam and post supports our pergola is sort of divided into quarters – if that makes sense?

not to scale
not to scale

Large rods and bolts secure the pressure treated wood.

pergola_top edges

Not bad for amateurs!



We Need a Canopy!

Even with the top crossbeam slats, there isn’t much protection from the midday sun. I liked the idea of a retracting or removable canopy.

source: www.aristocratawnings.com
source: http://www.aristocratawnings.com

But, the price for one of these babies was a real downer: $2,500.00. So, I decided to make a canopy. 😉  We cut out a total of 32 U-shaped ‘brackets’ from pieces of scrap wood. We screwed 16 brackets onto one 22′ long side of the pergola crossbeam and then the other 16 to the opposite side, spacing them 36″ apart.

Continue reading “Pergola Canopy v. Thunderstorms”

My Yard #3: Spring Has Sprung!

At last! I just LOVE spring time. Around here it is the time after the occasional cold winds off the Atlantic and before the suffocatingly unbearable heat. Thought I’d share my just budding yard with you. For this, I can put up with pollen-sneezes!

Mi casa, su casa!
Mi casa, su casa!

Continue reading “My Yard #3: Spring Has Sprung!”

My Yard #2: Mysterious Lady

Many years ago, with my young daughters in tow, the three of us scoured a favorite salvage/antique warehouse for treasures.  We particularly liked this place because I did not have to worry about my girls rummaging through the piles of great stuff.  It was always an adventure. One lucky day, we found this awesome stone maiden wall planter.


She is about 18″ tall and is made of heavy stone in the art nouveau style from 1890-1910. The dealer said she was part of a salvage shipment from England. Our lady has traveled around our home, but we think the best place is under the wild jasmine vine.  In the spring, I trim back the vine so we can see her.  She has weathered extreme heat and snowy winters, been home to many a bird nest and sanctuary to a tiny lizard. I love her enigmatic Mona Lisa smile.  

My Yard #1: Feathered Friends

Whether I am warming up with a mug of cider or roasting marshmallows by the fire pit, or sharing a glass of wine with my husband and friends under the pergola; simply put – I enjoy my yard.  I like to watch the butterflies and hummingbirds dance from one bush or perennial to another.  I marvel at the engineering of nest building as tiny finches steal pine straw, then flit from branch to birdhouse and back.  I find it very entertaining and calming. To support my indulgence, I am always on the lookout for old bird houses or interesting salvage to assist in building one.  My husband and I have used salvaged wood, old keys, old photo frames, metal hooks, chimes – you name it – when constructing a home for the birds. We follow whimsy, yet make sure to drill the proper-sized and placed hole, a perch and allow a way for cleaning each season.

My smallest (far-left) house was a Mother’s Day gift from one of my daughters. She assembled and painted this sweet little home when she was fourteen – twelve years ago.

My husband used salvaged wood siding and a section of ceiling tin from a turn-of-century piedmont Virginia home to build one of my (center) largest bird homes.  He added an old circular photo frame (minus glass), a cast iron hook and decorative metal scrap.

We found the (far-right) country-style “chapel” in an out-of-the-way antique/junk store in coastal North Carolina.  I want to refurbish this one but hate to lose the patina and character. Love the minimalist colors.

I’d love to see what other people are using for bird houses. I’ve seen quite a lot of creative use  of salvage.