Tag Archives: nature

Someday My (Patio) Will Come

patio inspirationvia

Dinner al fresco. Ice cream among twinkling fireflies.  Morning coffee and a magazine.

All that comes to mind when I’m dreaming up our someday patio! (I do love to imagine the end result, don’t I?)

Today I’m talking patio inspiration.

The current area where we will be putting a patio tucks into a corner of the back of our house. When we bought this house, there was a considerable amount of water damage to the concrete foundation – which we have fixed. To help prevent any more water issues, we will be grading the yard away from the house, and also putting in a patio to help. (If the Moose says we “have” to install a patio, I don’t ask questions.)

There are three things I’m looking for in a patio:

1. Budget friendly
2. Organic feeling
3. Low maintenance

It’s been surprisingly difficult to find realistic patio inspiration ideas. There are a lot of “builder basic” patios out there online. And the photos I’ve found on Pinterest and Houzz are glamazon outdoor living rooms.

This is a collection of images I’ve saved all with features I’d like to consider when we’re ready to do our patio:

patio inspirationvia

We’ve discussed creating our patio using three different methods: 1. brick, 2. pavers, 3. stampcrete (or stamped concrete).

We have yet to price everything out, but generally brick and pavers are more expensive (and very DIY labor intensive), and concrete is less expensive. Concrete will also give us more protection from the water issues our home has experienced in the past.

I really like the pattern in the image above – hard to believe it’s concrete! You can also stain concrete. But, I think we’re leaning towards the natural gray you see above.

patio inspirationvia

I like how this patio has a decorative border around it. It’s a nice finishing detail that really makes the stonework sing.

A lot of patios have a small stone walls, or raised planters to add privacy and designate the patio space. But I tend to like the more organic feeling patios that feel like they grew there themselves! A border is a nice way of making that distinction while still staying ground level.

patio inspirationvia

Glory Cottage, that’s right! I would love to sit on this patio all day long!

I like the abundance of potted plants on this patio.

Maybe a potted herb garden will be in order?

patio inspirationvia

There is just something lovely and romantic about pergolas.

I like how this pergola makes the patio feel so connected to the house. Since our patio will be tucked into a corner (kind of like this patio), it’s creates a cozy little nook.

patio inspirationvia

Again, we’re thinking of lots of ways we can better connect the patio to the house.

We have a walk-out basement, which will lead to the patio. But that means we have exposed concrete bricks where our (supposed-to-be-nice-and-pretty) patio will go. We’ve talked about a number of ways to cheer it up, and one of them is ivy.

There’s something so New England about ivy. We would, however, install vertical trellises so the ivy grows on that instead of creating problems with the roots weakening the concrete foundation.

patio inspiration
There are two things I love about this patio.
One: if the pergola is too much of an investment, I like the mini-pergolas over the doors. That’s another way to add character without breaking the bank.
Two: I love the shutters! Too often shutters are only on the front of the house, but adding shutters to the back windows on the patio is another way to make the outdoor space feel united to the rest of your house.
Plus, I’ve never been one for outdoor artwork.
patio inspiration
Again with the pergolas. If we don’t want to do a full-fledged pergola, this modified pergola is a great way to get partial shade and still having a patio open to the skies.
Plus it’s an excellent place for hanging plants!
patio inspiration
As if I needed to add more fuel to my pergola fire.
This could be a great way to add a porch swing to your patio. (We currently have one sitting in the basement waiting for some TLC. It was going to go on the front porch… but maybe the patio would be a better place for it?
Such tough decisions. :p

It looks like I have a lot of research work cut out for me!

Do you have a patio or outdoor living space?

What’s your favorite part about it? Any recommendations?

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshires

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshiresvia

The first of [February] was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston
The Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go.

While some parts of the U.S. are blooming with flowers and sunshine-y afternoons allow *gasp* a pair of sandals, it’s still snowy here in Boston.

As we celebrated the vernal equinox last week, it’s technically spring. But today I’m going to talk about snow and my new hobby – cross country skiing. I should post on this topic before we (finally) catch up to the rest of you!

The last few years I’ve wanted to buy cross country skis. I have no winter hobby, and one can only watch so many movies when the world is covered in snow for months at a time. Cross country skiing was going to be that hobby.

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshires
This year we finally did it! We waited until the end of the season and snatched up all our gear at L.L. Bean for 50% off. If you’re lucky they might still have a pair. Plus, you will get ski passes for local trails with your purchase. All in all, the cost for everything was less than a one-time downhill lift ticket for just one of us!

We purchased Classic Touring skis. Classics have “fish scale” texture on the bottom of the ski for gripping. Touring skis are best for beginners and for use on groomed trails, as opposed to skate skiing, which is a motion similar to ice skating. Touring skis are a bit wider, therefore steadier.

You will want to get fitted for your skis and poles, as there are several varying factors like weight and height.

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshires

Our first foray into our new hobby drove us out to the beautiful Berkshires a few days after a snowstorm (hence the James Taylor quote above). I’ve been driving through the Berkshires for nearly ten years now, but this summer when we went to a James Taylor concert at Tanglewood, was the first time we actually visited. It’s a beautiful area.

Canterbury Farms

Canterbury Farms of Becket, MA was our snowy destination.

“With 22 Kilometers of groomed and tracked ski trails, you will ski alongside beautiful brooks, beaver ponds, stone walls, lakes, fields and mountains where nature abounds. Our trails meander through old wood stands which gives you the feel of being in the wilderness.”

Sounds lovely, huh? As the say, a picture says a thousand words:

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshires

The trails were well-groomed and very pretty.

Trails were easily marked, and you are well warned of difficult hills ahead if you want to stick to flatter trails.

We saw a few other skiers, but most of the time it was just us. As evidenced by the strong sun, we went in the late afternoon.

Cross Country Skiing in the Berkshires

Don’t Own Skis?

If you don’t own skis, they have all the equipment available for a day rental.

Canterbury Farms also has an inn and kitchen. Eat something hearty – XC skiing burns lots of calories!

What to Wear

Don’t be fooled into dressing for downhill skiing. Cross country is a WORKOUT and you will warm up right away. I was happy in leggings under thin waterproof exercise pants (falling happens to every snow-bunny), a fleece, sunglasses and my trusty felt earwarmers. I didn’t even wear gloves I was so warm from the workout.

I also wore a small backpack that held an unneeded scarf, my camera and a bottle of water (we definitely needed that!).

For a Weekend in the Berkshires

Next year we plan to rent a small cabin and make a weekend of it.

In that case, I’d also like to spend my time in the Berkshires exploring some of the following:

I can truly say I’m a bit sad to see the snow go – I want to go skiing again!!

Have you ever tried cross country skiing? What’s your winter hobby?

The Last Stillness of Winter

I’ve returned from Atlanta, and my trip was just peachy. (Too cheeky?)

Although I saw shamefully little of the city, I did experience a few new things: my first foray into Caribou Coffee meeting up with an old friend, I went to a restaurant with a ham bar and ordered grits, and survived the MARTA train system. Not exactly a deep cultural experience for my first time in the South, but I will be back there in a few months – so maybe I will have more to report on Georgia then.

Before I left we had a beautiful dusting of snow.

We’ve had quite a few lovely snows this year.

Now that March has officially begun, we’re starting to see glimpses of spring. A warm day here, sprouting buds there. While I’m sure we will continue to get a few more snowfalls, I’m trying to appreciate the last days of fleeting winter beauty.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I “like” winter, I have a deep appreciation for it. Having lived in the snow belt for my entire life, the calendar year seems incomplete without the season of frigid whiteness.

frosty morning view from bed

Maybe I do like winter. It gives me the excuse to sit inside and watch early 90s sitcoms while the roast from the slow cooker wafts throughout the house.

Maybe I like it because it covers up our disaster of a frozen, excavated yard for a few months of the year.

And how the reflective snow brings so much LIGHT into our home.

Soon it will be over. For now I will enjoy the stillness.

Scenes from a Boston Blizzard

Boston Blizzard

Every morning I drive to work past this pond right by our home.

The last month or two, every morning I spy a few crazies out there on the ice.

They are ice fishing!

It looks pretty miserable to me, but whatever floats your boat… or… whatever you use for ice fishing.

Whatever warms your Longjohns?

Okay, this analogy is dying a swift death.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

On Friday afternoon the blizzard that took New England by storm (*pun intended) arrived.

As soon as I woke up the next morning I peered out our bedroom window, and saw our cars buried beneath a thick, white blanket of snow.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Fortunately we kept our power throughout the storm, and didn’t lose any tree branches! We haven’t had the best of luck in that area.

Before the storm we lined our driveway with these orange poles, so we would know where our driveway ended and the yard started – very important if you are plowing your driveway.

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Thankfully I’m married to Mister Prepared, and we had all the tools for a proper snow jailbreak.

Can you see our big marshmallow cars in the driveway?

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

My favorite part about blizzards is hunkering down with some warm food and pajamas.

We started the day off right with a big, hot breakfast.

Including my Granna’s recipe for homemade scones and coffee!

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Anything to fuel the manpower to unearth our vehicles…

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

I brought our yardstick downstairs to measure the snow.

We had a whopping 28″ in the front walkway!

DesignLively - Boston Blizzard

Everybody needs a good blizzard every once in a while!

I hope my New England friends are staying warm and dry!