Boho Bistro

Are you ready for spring? I know that I am! Add a pop of color to your patio this spring with a DIY bistro set!

Boho Bistro Chair

These darling wrought iron chairs had chipped black enamel and rust, but I managed to save them from the dump with a little lot of elbow grease.

Using some WD-40 and a wire brush, I was able to scrub off the rust and remove loose enamel. I then scrubbed them down with a little soap and water and left them outside to dry before sanding down the rough areas with 80 grit sand paper. To further smooth out the metal, I gradually increased the grit to 100, 120, 150, and finally 220.

Now that the surface was decent, I used Rustoleum Gray primer for automobiles. I gave them two coats and lightly sanded with 180 grit between coats.

I let them cure for a few days while I decided on a color. At the time, we were living in Germany, where the sky tended to be gray most of the year. I needed a vibrant, happy color that would Pop even on dark, gray days. The selection of colors at the local Post Exchange was slim. I had the choice of primary red, yellow, green, and blue.  Though I loved the idea of red, the color was not bright enough for me, so I settled on Rustoleum Sun Yellow in Gloss. I worked slowly, and lightly sanded between each coat. I ended up using 2 cans of primer and 5 cans of the yellow paint.

Bistro Table Original

The chairs did come with a darling round bistro table, but it was beyond salvage. The rust was so bad that some areas were completely rotted through. I was bummed until I found this cute folding table at a thrift store. The top had a dark oak cherry and the legs were black. I loved that the curve of the feet mimicked the curved back of the chairs.

I sanded the top and removed some deep scratches, then used an antique white chalk paint on the table top. I was far from satisfied.

 

20170410_133448A quick trip to Joanne’s Fabrics solved my dilemma when I spotted this lovely summer outdoor fabric on clearance.

BohoBistro.3Later on, I found a cute stencil that reminded me of my trip to Morocco. It had finally come together!

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I made the chair cushions and used the colors from the fabric on the table top. Once the top was finished, I sprayed it with to protect the surface. Though I would not leave it out in the rain, it provides protection against water rings from tall glasses of lemonade or iced tea.

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This set is a lovely testament to warm weather, spring blossoms, and summer beverages.

Now get out there and brighten up your patio set! It is worth it.

BohoBistro

 

Reunited with My Home

 

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The Pennington House a.k.a. Home

For three years, the home I longed for was fixed in my mind. Images of every room that I lovingly painted, upgraded, designed, and loved was etched into my third eye. Whenever I needed home, I would close my eyes and roam from room to room, visiting memories long held dear. This is not just any house. This is our first home. We purchased it ourselves, and we labored with love over every square inch. She is ours. She shelters us from the elements of the sky and of man. She envelops us with her quirky doors and bumpy walls. She’s not perfect, but she reflects us. We left the essence our joys and sorrows with her when we left. We fretted over her. We ached for her.

 

Arriving in the States after living for three years in Germany, we were experiencing a sudden case of dementia. What should be familiar felt foreign. We felt foreign–or at least I did. Being married to a United States Soldier, dependents (the family), have developed an amazing ability to set up camp and make the temporary familiar. We are used to being a foreigner every time we move to a new Post. When we bought this house, we put down roots. Our first sets of real roots. You know, not the kind that runs shallow and uproots easily. These were the beginnings of tap roots. The kind that runs deep and refuses to be blown away in the hurricane.

We became the caretakers of a home that would live on with our memories forever part her. She will be witness to the joys and sorrows of those that come to her long after I am dead. She holds the memories of those that came before us. We painted over those memories. We altered her. We made her ours, not theirs. Because we loved her and we tapped our roots in, we left her in the care of others with the intention and hope to come back to her.

Before we left, we prepped her for a new family. We gave her kitchen and family room a major makeover. We covered the evidence of family photographs hanging on the walls. We prepped her yard for a major overhaul that would occur five months after we left. We trimmed her strawberry plants. We trimmed the rosemary bush and the tree. She was freshly manicured and ready to go. A blank slate for a new military family to transform a temporary residence into a home. I left with the images of my home.

Because of the care and respect that I gave to all of my temporary homes, I never expected my home to be abused. I least of all expected such mistreatment from a military family! They left the essence of disdain. They left the odor of rotten meat, dog piss, and puke. They left behind the evidence of every family photo that had hung on those walls. They left behind the evidence of animal abuse. The stench of anger hung thick in the air. Evidence of a toddler let loose in every room with a crayon, pencil, or pen is stamped into the walls. The color of a tan cave has spread onto every wall in every room except the children’s rooms and the office. The paint eats the sun and reflects the hopelessness of a couple who appear to have reached the edge of the cliff.

As I sit among my possessions that create the stage of home no matter where we reside, I feel like a foreigner. I am a temporary visitor in my own home. Throughout our twenty years together, my husband and I have always moved forward–from one new dwelling to another. Always forward, never backward. Until now. Is it me or is it the house that has changed? We both have changed. I brought new possessions into her arms that she has never known. She was abused and broken. All she had to offer was her strength, and even that was damaged in the wind. She looks to us to make her shine again. She looks to us to make her a real home. A forever home.

We came together as strangers for a second time. We were both a little worse for wear. We were both three years older. We both had new scars. We met in my office. We came together as equals and as friends who have been living apart for a while. We can both be comfortable here, where a child’s writing on the wall is the only mark of the former residents. She likes the new desk and shelves and eagerly awaits a fresh coat of paint, boasting my art on the walls, and a cup of tea with me and my Muse. We are combining the old and the new while planning for the future. We are both home now.

Autumn Patio Daydreaming

Fall is my favorite season. I love sitting on the patio with a nice cup of coffee or tea and enjoying the early Autumn colors and sun. It’s a time of year when I like to reflect on what has passed and what will be. I am already well underway in my holiday planning and crafting, and I’m busy with all of the fall activities such as harvesting the last of the summer crops, attending back to school events, and getting into my literature and education studies. However, this year we are in the process of moving back to the States and to our beautiful home in Colorado. I’ve enjoyed my time living in Germany, but I am ready to return home. As I was sitting on my patio this morning, enjoying a hot cup of coffee and wishing that fall would hurry and arrive—It’s been unseasonably warm here in Germany—I started to daydream about my little patio back home and how I want it to look.

It must have the following items:

  • A large table with seating for up to six people
  • A sunshade/rain shelter
  • One lounge chair with a side table—for my morning contemplation

This is our current backyard.

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View from the corner of the yard

We have plans to increase the size of the patio, but those are plans for a more distant future. As a homeowner, I’ve learned to prioritize and a patio renovation keeps getting pushed down on the list. In the meantime, I’ve found some awesome furniture that will last a long time, won’t blow away in the crazy Colorado wind, and works with several décor styles. I found this amazing table at arhaus.com that is made with real wood and concrete. I don’t think it will be blowing away in the wind, unlike our last lightweight wood one.

This is the Bourdeaux Rectangle Stone Dining Table from arhaus.com. It is simple, but can be set with a lovely centerpiece, pretty plates set on either chargers or placemats, and would look awesome in the evening with candles set along the center.

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My dream table from arhaus.com.

Of course, this 84″ dining table is a bit large for our current tiny patio, but this is a daydream, so imagine this table on a large, gorgeous flagstone patio.

The patio would look something like this…only a bit smaller to allow for my veggie and fruit garden.

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It would look like this if you compare it to the view of the backyard from the corner. Photo from dansonlandscaping.com

I sense a theme of natural woods and stone, so why not add in a little decor?

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Garden Decor from arhaus.com

So now we have a table, a larger patio, and some decor. I think we need some chairs. I love the look of these Mississippi Dining Arm Chairs by Oakland Living from wayfair.com. I think the curved lines soften the overall look of the bold dining table. And they are wrought iron, so they won’t blow away!

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Mississippi Dining Arm Chair by Oakland Living

 

Now we need the sunshade/rain shelter. My goal is to build a pergola when we redo the patio. However, I do realize that a simple pergola does not offer much shelter from the harsh Colorado sun or the rain. Since I am still contemplating it, we could just settle for a large Cantilever umbrella. I found this one on backyardcity.com. I like that it has a heavy base and support system without compromising style in favor of functionality. When the winds are strong, the umbrellas can simply be closed and secured.

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View from the corner of the yard

All I need now is my little corner with a cozy chair or loveseat and a side table for my morning contemplation. I love the idea of a fully upholstered chair, but even in a daydream, I think about stains, weather, and bugs. I think I will go a bit more conventional for this particular item. I found this darling Carlisle Loveseat with removable cushions at frontgate.com.

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Carlisle Loveseat in Onyx

I love the idea of adding more natural textures to the patio, so why not add an old tree stump? I mean, we are outside right? I love this one because it has legs that will prevent the tree trunk turned accent table from rotting at the bottom as it sits in water or snow melt.

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I think we’ve covered all of the criteria on my list.

BUT….

Since it’s autumn, and I love decorating, I think a nice fall decor is needed. Here some ideas I came across during a recent Pinterest binge. All links can be found on my Autumn Patio Pinterest Board.

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Autumn Tablescapes
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Autumn Lanterns

Now that you are inspired (hopefully), go outside and enjoy the beautiful beginning of autumn! I’m headed back outside right now to read a book and enjoy a nice hot cup of Earl Grey tea. I will just pretend that I am curled up on that cozy loveseat with a knit blanket draped over my legs.

 

Maple Pecan Granola

I am not a morning person, but I like a good, healthy breakfast to start my day. I am also a fan of saving money and avoiding processed foods. A typical breakfast consists of a soft boiled egg (I use an egg boiler, otherwise it is an overcooked hard-boiled egg), my special Yogurt (Plain or Greek sweetened with honey or maple syrup and flavored with LorAnn Oils Almond Emulsion) with some fruit (Mango in this example) and granola, and a cup of coffee. I usually flavor a 16 oz tub of yogurt on Sunday and it lasts about a week. I make two batches of Granola on Sundays as well because everyone in the house loves it. My husband likes to have about a cup and a half with almond milk when he doesn’t feel like making his usual oatmeal breakfast. My daughter puts about half a cup into a small container and adds dried fruits, more nuts and some wheat chex to make a quick trail mix.

This is by far my favorite granola and it saves me lots of money on my grocery bill. You can adjust the recipe any way you like. It is a simple ratio of 6 parts dry ingredients (not counting the spices) and one part wet ingredients. I use the One cup Prep bowls from Pampered Chef to measure my “parts,” but any container will work.

Ingredients

4 Cups Rolled Oats

1 Cup Chopped Pecans (The Pampered Chef Food Chopper makes quick work of this)

¾ Cup slightly crushed Bran Flakes (I just crumbled them by hand)

¼ Cup Wheat Germ

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½ Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Tsp Dried orange zest

¼ Tsp Salt

¼ Tsp Fresh grated Nutmeg

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½ Cup Maple Syrup

¼ Cup agave Nectar

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Walnut Oil

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Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Mix dry ingredients and spices in large mixing bowl. Whisk Syrup, oils, and agave nectar, then pour over dry ingredients. Mix well using a rubber spatula.

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Spread evenly onto a lightly greased baking sheet. I prefer to use my Pampered Chef large Bar Pan.

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Place in center of oven and bake for 45-50 minutes or until oats are golden brown. Mix granola with a high heat resistant rubber spatula every 15 minutes.

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Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for about an hour or until granola is close to room temperature.

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Store in airtight container for up to one week. This one is the Ikea 365 two quart Dry Food Storage container

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Parenting American Teens in Germany

Or the Worst Mother’s Day Ever

Sunday was Mother’s Day. Happy belated Mother’s Day by the way. On Friday, my daughter called me from the grocery store to ask if we had certain items in stock. I wasn’t sure what she was up to, but I suspected that it had something to do with Mother’s Day. My daughter loves to cook and bake, so I assumed that a treat was forthcoming for Mother’s Day.

On Saturday evening my daughter decided at the last-minute that she wanted to see a movie with her friend and her friend’s mother. I said Okay. My daughter then calls me while she is at the movies to ask if she could stay the night at her friends house. I said sure, but don’t forget that tomorrow is Mother’s Day and have her mom call me after the movie is over. I fell asleep before I received the phone call from her friend’s mother.

I had been working hard all week on my final essays and projects for my British Lit and Shakespeare courses, so when Sunday finally arrived, I decided to sleep in until 10. I had already discovered that my daughter planned to make brunch after I heard her tell her father not to make reservations at our favorite gasthaus. I woke up, excited at the idea of omelettes, pastries, yogurt, and fresh fruit.

I checked my phone. The mother had never called. I tried calling her, but received no answer. I figured that she was probably bringing my daughter home.

At 1130 we got THE call. The one that every parent fears. The MPs called to tell us that our daughter was in the Nurnberg hospital. WHAT?!?!

She had been picked up by the Polizei at the bahnhof. She was unresponsive for two minutes as the Polizei tried to wake her up.

We rushed to the hospital (just over an hour away). When we arrived, she was sleeping in the waiting room.

The Doctor gave us her blood test. Her blood alcohol level was 1.4 when she arrived at 930 am and 1.2 two hours later. Her last drink was at 4am.

In case you are wondering how a 16-year-old can go clubbing, I should probably tell you that the legal drinking age in Germany is 16. Crazy right?

She had no idea where her coat, purse, and cell phone went. She assumed that her “friends”–who left her at the bahnhof–were in possession of her stuff, but she could not remember. She remembers getting separated from them at the Nurnberg station and then finding a Polizei for help. The Polizei gave her a train ticket to get home. She got on the wrong train. So then she gets off a few stations later and sits on a bench to wait for the next train going back to Nurnberg. This is where she passed out. A Polizei found her and called the paramedics.

Nurnberg is a known party spot for Americans and Germans. There are numerous clubs, fights, and deaths. THis is where most young soldiers (and apparently dependent teens) find trouble.

We have warned her numerous times to stay away. We have told her how dangerous it is and that the consequences for my husband are severe. Like most teens, she ignored us.

We spent the next 2 hours trying to locate her belongings. After a hopeless search, we headed off to find food and take our errant teenager home.

Long lectures, yelling, crying, and more lectures and yelling ensued. It was a long ride home.

At 530pm, her friends finally decided to bring her belongings–which contained her Passport Visa, military ID, and SS card–to the MP station so that someone would know that she was missing. Her “friends” waited almost 12 hours before notifying ANYONE that my daughter had gone missing!

I sat on my patio and watched a young mother play with her little girl. My heart ached for myself and for that mom who has no idea that in just 12 years that sweet little girl will break her heart.

Parenting is hard. Parenting teenagers is torture. Parenting teenagers in Germany is a nightmare.

So here I am, remembering the sweetest little girl that was once my daughter and every  time I think about it, my eyes begin to fill with tears.

I am so very grateful that my daughter was not raped or murdered.

She will rue the day she lied to us and went to clubbing. How do you punish a modern teen? Take away ALL social media, electronics, and friends. If I had it my way, I’d lock her in her room until she turns 18.

Do you have any teen parenting related horror stories to share? Please feel free to comment below!

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