Friday, October 24, 2014

Making a Tiny Backyard Functional

One of the biggest issues Loren and I have with our house is the tiny backyard. Even calling it a backyard is generous. It's more like a back patio. But, this summer we decided we needed to figure out a way to get more enjoyment out of the space.

We'd been dealing with this set-up:

It was okay, but not super functional. Especially if there were more than four people back there. So our goal was to make it more useful. At first we thought about just getting a different size patio table, but then we realized that maybe an outdoor couch or sectional would be better suited. And if we were having a BBQ or something we could just eat on the couch, that's what we normally do inside, why not outside?

The search for an outdoor sectional began, and I very quickly realized that they are extremely expensive. I was still keeping an eye out for some good deals but told Loren I was going to see about if there were any plans out there for making something ourselves. I found some plans that you built up some nice benches basically but people commented that they spent $600+ on the supplies, and I also saw some plans that involved using pallets but we just weren't sold on the idea. Finally after lots of Googling and Pinterest searches, I came across this tutorial from Be Happy...Be Me:

It was just what we needed! We got measuring to make this couch fit our space and decided to use six foot 4x4 boards with cinder blocks in the middle joining two sides together. We bought six 4x4's and 12 cinder blocks to assemble the couch. We also picked up some brown paint from Ace Hardware to paint the blocks and the front of the 4x4's that would be visible.

Let me tell you, painting cinder blocks is not fun. But we got it done and that was the majority of the work on this project. After the painted blocks were dry, Loren glued them together for extra stability.

After the blocks are glued together we just slid the 4x4s into the openings and adjusted as needed. Then added the cushions and pillows. Done-zo!

Ruby enjoys the couch too, she's a pretty cute model. :) After getting the couch made and set-up we added a couple chairs on the opposite side and strung some globe lights in between the house and the garage.

The lights had a nice vibe to the space I think. We managed to have a couple BBQs with friends before the cooler Fall weather arrived and it was really fun to be able to enjoy our outdoor space.

And that's how we made out backyard a little more cute, and a lot more useful. We'd still like to get a couple lumbar pillows and maybe a few more little accessories for the space but it's been a wonderful update for us.

Love, K

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Day 2014

Today I participated in a fun social network party hosted by Laura at Hollywood Housewife. She invited people to post pictures of their ordinary day on Instagram using the the hashtag #OneDayHH.

I had so much fun sharing random tidbits from my day that might not be things I'd normally consider Instagram worthy. I also really enjoyed looking through the pictures that other people posted using the hashtag. This was a great way to see that in small ways, we're sort of connected. Doing the best we can to enjoy life and take care of our families (no matter the size). Here's a few of the pics I shared today:

A photo posted by Kristen Ayotte (@kristenayotte) on

A photo posted by Kristen Ayotte (@kristenayotte) on

A photo posted by Kristen Ayotte (@kristenayotte) on

 This is an annual event so if it sounds like fun to you, keep your eyes peeled next year. And go explore the hashtag #OneDayHH on Instagram now to see what other people shared today. Big thanks to Laura for organized this fun day!! Did you participate today? Leave a comment below with your Instagram user name and I'll check out your posts!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Meet Me in St. Louis

A few weeks ago Loren and I spent the weekend in St Louis. It was a quick trip but I think we hit most of the important tourist to-dos.

First I should just mention that the Drury Inn on Broadway downtown was such a great place to stay! We were within walking distance to pretty much everything and the staff was so nice. Plus there's a free hot breakfast,  fresh popcorn everyday for snacking, and a sweet happy hour! Free drinks and hot dogs! We were more than satisfied with our stay there and will look for their hotels in other cities we visit. 

Moving on...we spent a lot of our first day in town relaxing. We did venture out and saw the Gateway Arch on our way to the Cardinals baseball game. From Broadway St you can see the Old Courthouse and the Arch is behind the building. It's beautiful. 

We continued on toward Busch Stadium. There's a new area next to the stadium called Ballpark Village that the hotel staff recommended so we stopped there for dinner.

 The place was huge and we ended up eating at Budweiser Brew House. I'm going to be honest and say that nothing I had there was very remarkable. I'm not a beer drinker so I ordered a sangria. The waiter told me it was tasty but strong. It was disgusting and strong. I think I took four sips before giving up on it. I also ordered poorly when it came to food...disappoint all around. But it was a fun atmosphere and I feel like most of my complaints were my own bad choices given the venue. 

The Cardinals game was pretty fun. It was a chilly night so we brought a blanket from our hotel room to keep warm, haha! I will admit that it was somewhat strange to me to see how packed the stadium was. I don't usually see that many people at the baseball games here in Seattle. The stadium was really nice and I loved all the red team gear.

The next day we were up and at 'em relatively early. Our first plan for the day was heading to the Gateway Arch. We walked over and waited through the security line to get inside. Something worth mentioning is if you book your tickets ahead of time you still have to wait in the security line to enter the structure. There are lines at both ends of the Arch. The "pod" you take up and down the Arch is a little on the scary side.


If you are a claustrophobic person, the ride could get a little intense. I had to take a few deep breaths to try and keep calm. I'm positive the people we rode up with thought I was a lunatic. Once you get to the top though, there are some pretty amazing views.

After the Arch, we headed down to the waterfront to take a riverboat cruise.

The cruise was okay but if you have a packed schedule you could definitely skip it.

Later in the evening we decided to end out to the Del Mar Loop. It seemed to be a more hip, young crowd in this area. Lots of people carrying bluetooth speakers around so everyone on the sidewalk could listen to their music. haha! We stopped for a little pick-me-up at Fitz's Root Beer shop. They brew their own root beer and serve up some pretty serious root beer floats.

Loren had the original and I went with the s'more (cream soda with ice cream, hot fudge, and marshmellow fluff). It was delicious but I think I only managed to get about 25% through it. Luckily Loren's sweet tooth is bigger than mine. :)

After browsing the shops a bit more we decided it was dinner time. We settled on this Mexican place that had a super long wait. BUT it turns out that they have a take-out window and little side bar where you can eat. We got food and drinks within about 15 minutes compared to the 45-60 minute wait we were quoted at the restaurant. Seemed like a win to us!

This food was AMAZING! We ordered these french fries with carna asada and all the fixin's piled on top. Honestly, one of my favorite things I've ever ate. Mexican food and french fries in one?! Heaven!! Plus the most delicious strawberry daiquiri ever. It was a good food night.

The next day was our last day in St. Louis. We drove around Forest Park for a bit but decided to focus our efforts on getting some St. Louis style BBQ. Interesting tidbit - on our boat cruise the guide informed us that St. Louis style BBQ is actually about the cut of the meat; and it's pretty much what you get everywhere in the US. But Loren had looked up a few places that seemed worth checking out so we went anyway. We decided to go to Pappy's. After waiting in line for about an hour, we were finally able to order our food. Loren got ribs and I got the beef brisket sandwich.

The food wasn't anything to write home about. Loren actually said that he'd prefer the ribs at Famous Dave' not worth waiting an hour for.

Our last stop was the Anheuser-Busch Brewery Tour. We got to meet a Clydesdale! He was a beautiful horse.

The tour was fun and it was actually a very pretty place.

So that's it! A weekend of fun in the Midwest! We had a good time exploring the area and I was happy to check another state off the list of places to visit. The people there were just so friendly, I enjoyed the city just based on that fact alone. Until next time..  xo, K

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bookshelf Love

I never realized how much I love bookshelves until I had one to put all my fun, pretty things on. But now?! I'm officially a bookcase lover!

We picked up an Expedit bookcase awhile back for the guest room. There had been a small desk in the space but it wasn't being used and just sort of took up space. This is a much better solution for the space and allows some extra space for Loren's stuff on our his actual computer desk. Plus, I have space for all my pretty things like my commemorative china from the Royal Wedding and Prince George's birth.

We also added another Ribba photo ledge from Ikea. We have one in our dining room and had been holding on to this extra one that finally found a home. I put a print we brought back from Paris, a print from Etsy that Loren bought me for Christmas a few years ago, a painting from my sister-in-law, and a few other items on the ledge. Everything there makes me happy. :)

The top of the bookcase could use a little fine tuning, since it's a little full right now but I'm not too concerned with it. The room isn't used too often so I like being able to look at all the fun things rather than worry about having open space. Anyone else obsessed with bookcases? I've definitely been trying to find places for them all over our house...wish me luck! :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Color Run

This morning Loren and I participated in The Color Run for the third year in a row. The Seattle race takes place right at the Seattle Center.

Yes, I do use my sweat band as ear muffs. I have sensitive ears!  It's a fun race that focuses on people having a good time rather than their race time. Plus, there's good music, BUBBLES at the start line, and lots of COLOR! Happiness is inevitable.

The color on the course was different this year, the color stations were using "liquid color" and I have to wasn't as much fun.

In the past when you approach the color station as seen above, there are clouds of color. This cloud. The liquid didn't seem as effective at leaving color either. The course was packed but you passed a lot of pretty parts of the city.

At the end of the race there was the normal, powder color. And, of course the color throw. The best part of The Color Run.

We both had a good time, and I still have some Smurf toned skin to prove I was there. :)