Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stuff I Like: Balcony Life + Reading/Watching/Listening

Balcony life! I have a nice balcony that overlooks a wooded lot full of deer and owls and I never freaking use it. My goal this summer is to change that on a budget of almost no dollars. Here's what I'm starting with:

It's cute, but that bistro set is seriously uncomfortable and stupidly small. I can't afford to replace it right now but what I'd really like is to move it over and create a space where I can just comfortably sit and read a book and have a cocktail and just enjoy the evening.

My first problem is mosquitoes. I live in Virginia and we grow em big and strong here. However, the last time I visited Marianne she introduced me to this mosquito lantern and it really works! Plus, a cozy light source. Done.

My next problem is that effing astroturf. I haaaaate it. Marianne, who is so good at these things, suggested I check out World Market for inexpensive woven outdoor rugs. This one might be cute and this one is crazy but kind of fun? I'd need different pillows, though.

Finally, I need a comfortable lounge-y chair. What I'd really like is a bright yellow Adirondack chair or a patio club chair but both are way out of my budget. This plastic Adirondack is probably what I'll get. It isn't ideal (I'm sure there's a more attractive/interesting choice) but I love that it's lightweight and the color is fun. Plus, $19.

So, what else do I need? Any suggestions for making my balcony a more useable space?

PS. In trolling TJ Maxx for possibilities I found this cute Fiestaware tablecloth! My dishes are all Fiestaware and I love them. (Except for the mugs which are too small.) I also like this yellow ikat jar and this cute green candle thing. Ugh, I'm sorry. I digress.

I've started and abandoned so many books lately because nothing was quite hooking me in. I decided I needed another comforting re-read so I'm reading Rosamunde Pilcher's The Shell Seekers. I've read it multiple times but it's been at least ten years, so it feels new! It's your basic awesome British family saga novel and very easy to fall into.

I just bought a Starz pass on Amazon so I could watch American Gods, based on the book by Neil Gaiman. It's very, very dark and very good so far. I'm only three episodes in but it's definitely got my attention. (It's gory, though, just fair warning.) The cast is outstanding - Ian McShane! Gillian Anderson! Pablo Schreiber! Cloris Leachman! If you like modern mythology and don't mind some violence, I highly recommend.

I'm still on a serious podcast kick! My new favorite is Up First, NPR's early morning news podcast. It covers "the biggest stories and ideas - from politics to pop culture - in 10 minutes." I usually listen to it while I'm driving to work and it's just the right length for my commute.


  1. You should totally take advantage of that balcony! I also live in Virginia so I totally understand the mosquito problem. We have a bunch of tiki torches with mosquito repellent, and many citronella candles (made with the real oil, not just scented) on our deck.

    As far as the chair situation, I can't speak to the target one you posted, but I have several of these in various colors and they are actually very comfortable! The key is to get one with a curvy back. We have parties and people sit for hours without a problem. I've seen them at home depot and even the grocery store as well.

    Good luck with your redecorating!

  2. I just bought four of those exact chairs from Target specifically because I needed a good reading chair for the porch, and they are PERFECT! So comfortable. (Also, I loved Shell Seekers SO MUCH and might just read it again, myself.)

  3. What about an Adirondack chair from Costco? They have them at mine for $50 Cdn, if yours has them I'm sure cheaper than that. You build it yourself, and then paint it whatever you like.

    1. Here's what would happen: I would buy it and then it would sit in pieces for months, never getting built or painted. I just know myself too well for that kind of project. :)

  4. I'm assuming the answer is yes, but have you checked Ikea for your balcony needs? ALSO, if you are into trivial minutiae, check out the podcast Something True. It's these little 10-20 minute stories about random events from history. The guy who reads the stories has the best British accent and his delivery is just hysterical.

    1. The closest IKEA is 90 miles away so I only go a few times a year, sadly. And thanks for the podcast rec! I'll definitely check it out.

  5. I bought one of those faux wicker lounge chairs on sale at the end of the season and I looove it. The following year I bought another one so I can have a friend out there with me. I think those bright rugs are fab! I didn't know you could get anything like that so cheaply! This year I bought a small World Market mosaic side table to replace my hideous plastic one. That's been my balcony strategy; one nice thing each year, and lots of cheap Home Depot plants and Miracle-Gro.

  6. We have a bunch of those World Market woven rugs on our covered wooden porch, and I love them. They are nice and bright, easy under bare feet, seem to last a while, and you can easily roll them up and put them aside when the weather changes.

  7. Try an electric fan to help keep the mosquitoes at bay. They aren't strong fliers and a small breeze is enough to disrupt their flight, so they'll stay out of the air stream. Only really works if you're planning on staying in one place, but you do get a bonus breeze for muggy evenings.

  8. Super cute balcony! You should totally take advantage of it. Have you tried Craig's List for furniture? I've found some amazing gently used pieces from West Elm on there for next to nothing. You could also exchange the current pillows on your bistro chairs for seat cushions and toss the current pillows on your new reading chair. I second the suggestion for plants (succulents are cheap and come in all sizes). Also, string lights (affordable bistro style ones on Amazon) make every outside space cozier.

  9. How about getting a canvas dropcloth and painting/stenciling it? Probably cheaper than a rug, and you're creative enough to make it work.

    Also, have you checked Lowes or Home Depot (or Menards if you have them). They're usually cheaper on patio-worthy goods than most places.