Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Room by Room - The Balcony

When we were looking for a place to live, a patio area of some sort was a necessity because Bob owns a gas grill. We couldn't believe how much we lucked out with the balcony at our new apartment! Not only was there room for the grill, but also for a 4 person table. Quite the luxury in Chicago. There were a lot of big sales around memorial weekend on Target patio sets, but as good as $100 for a 5-piece set sounded, the looks just weren't quite right for us. We found our table for 40% off at IKEA in early June ($60 instead of $100), but we were not sold on the chairs that came with it - or their price of $60 each. After much google searching, I stumbled onto defysupply.com. Mainly wholesale furniture for restaurants with minimum numbers for ordering, the chairs on this site had the nice price of $43 each with a minimum order of 4 chairs. Also, FREE SHIPPING! We liked the look of these stackable chairs as they not only had the wooden slats that matched the table, but also the chrome element. Now that we have them, I can't help but notice a lot of outdoor seating at restaurants seem to have the same style! One note if you are ordering from this type of site: while they were a cheaper option than much of what we liked in stores, and the shipping meant we wouldn't have to figure out how to fit 4 chairs in Bob's little two-door, I read the fine print AFTER I ordered: 6-12 weeks for shipping! I thought we would have them in time for our housewarming party but no dice. All in all, they arrived in about 8 weeks.

One item that is not part of our balcony (yet?) is an outdoor rug. After an informal poll of family and friends, I seem to be the only one who sees this as a good addition. I believe the responses I got ranged from "what's the point?" to "sort of useless." I suppose I don't really need to define the grill space from the dining space with a rug under the table, but I sure do like the look - and price - of this one to the right or of this one from World Market! What do you think about the outdoor rug? Frivolous or Fun?

This little table grew on me while I stayed at Bob's place the month of May (my transient days between having to be out of my studio and us moving into this apartment). His TV sat upon this well-worn table that, if I am not mistaken, was a curb-side find of his back in Denver. My initial reaction was a resounding "To the Dumpster With You!", but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it as a patio table to hold plants and our gardening supplies. We've talked about painting it, which might still happen, but in the meantime this "little-table-that-could" is growing on me. . .

The bottom shelf holds our beverage tub, leftover potting soil and watering can. You might recognize the $1.99 watering can from IKEA catalogues, but I actually found this one at Home Depot. If we had any more plants, I would spring for a bigger size, but this little guy does the trick for now! For my birthday this past June, my mother brought down 3 potted herbs to get me started. We've got thyme, basil and oregano on the top of the table. I've gotten the most use out of the basil, but we recently used the oregano in a salmon dish and I've been on the look-out for recipes that call for thyme! I think next season we'll start on cilantro and keep the salsas coming!

One time when I was in college I woke up in the middle of the night, sleepily walked to the fridge because I was thirsty and took a big swig straight out of my new bottle of apple juice (something I do not condone under normal circumstances - get a glass!). To my tastebuds' surprise and dismay it was not apple juice, but white grape juice! I have a horrible habit of not reading labels when I'm at the store, throwing things in my cart willy nilly because they look like the item I want to buy. Why do I tell this story? Because I did it again when we were buying our plants and flowers! Our Home Depot trip to the Garden Center involved putting a lot of random plant life in our cart because we liked how they looked. If you check out the potted plant on the patio table, you may recognize it as a Hosta - which is supposed to be planted in the ground with at least 24 - 36 inches of room for it to grow. Oops. We'll see how long I can keep the poor thing alive in a pot. It did just start to flower - that has to be a good sign, right?

Our planters are filled with, among other varieties, marigolds and geraniums and have been doing pretty well overall this summer. I am definitely looking forward to next season when we will go into the Garden Center with a little more research and planning under our belts. While having some plant life, albeit a mismatched array, is a nice addition to the home, I always get a little jealous as I walk up our sidewalk and see the coordinated displays of our neighbors. Ah well, just call us eclectic!

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