Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Is next weekend really the July 4th holiday already?  Heck, I can't believe it's the end of June! I'm sorry it's been a while since I've posted any tips, but I've been NUTS like many of you trying to get everything ready for the summer so we can actually ENJOY THE SUMMER.  I know I talk about life in the northeast a lot, but HERE'S THE THING...when it snows and is freezing cold for seven months of the year you try to grab on to every tiny bit of good weather. As I sat on our front porch last weekend trying to enjoy my lovely outdoor furniture (and the glorious weather, of course), the energy used to swat away flies took any joy out of being outdoors.  Frustrated from swatting, I headed inside only after spilling my drink all over the new cushions, which made me think this is a great opportunity to give you a GOOD/BAD/DON'T WASTE YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY on some of the things I've purchased and used in the last several months.  These are only my opinions based on my experience, but maybe it will help you or prevent you from making the same mistakes I've made.
1.) We live in an old farmhouse across the street from a 200 acre horse farm, so flies are inevitable, especially in the summer.  I have tried many tricks and here's how that went: Painting the ceiling of our porch a light blue only proved one looks cute.  Keeping flies away, not so much.  I tried hanging a bag of water in the corners (a trick I'd seen at southern California restaurants). That also didn't work.  Fly strips look like disgusting public restrooms, so I headed to the Home Depot where I found FLY TRAPs (fill small plastic bottle with water and add pouch of non-toxic something).  THE GOOD: after a few days it eliminated most of the flies.  Some are still zipping around, but for the $6 investment, I'd say well worth it. THE UGLY: Whatever is in the pouch STINKS, so if you're entertaining place these on the floor and fill vases with lovely flowers to hide the smell.
2.) I've mentioned how much I love putting islands in kitchens for extra storage and seating.  In December I purchased a stainless steel island online for far less than most retail stores.  THE GOOD: It looks sleek and cool in our farmhouse kitchen, and is excellent for extra counter space and storage for larger, heavier appliances. THE BAD: The island I purchased does not have a large enough over-hang to make eating at it easy or comfortable.  We still sit for short meals, but in retrospect I might opt for an island with a proper over hang.
3.) Sunbrella fabric is great, but nothing is maintenance free, sorry folks!  Because we get a lot of rain I drag them in after each use.  If they get wet, combined with the humidity here, I'd be waiting until October for them to dry. THE GOOD: If cleaned immediately with certain spills, the fabric does not stain. THE BAD: Getting it wet, while labels all say it will dry quickly, IT DOESNT
4.) I've worked on many decks over the years and someone at Lowe's talked me into buying a more expensive RESTORE with the promise of low-maintenance. THE TRUTH: DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS CRAP. IT DOESN'T WORK. If you live in a wet climate like we do (and the deck needs to survive harsh winters) the reality is a deck needs about as much maintenance as a pool does.  TREX or TIMBERTECK is the best way to go.  I hated the thought of fake decking when I first was introduced to it, but the investment is well worth it.
5.) I love my coffee but, sorry, I HATE KUREG and will never buy one.  I like a real coffee pot and have fallen in love with Cuisinarts easy brew coffee pot. THE GOOD: It looks cool and makes a nice pot of coffee. THE BAD: I've replaced mine three times in three years for various reasons.  I just don't understand what keeps happening, but my $19.99 MR. COFFEE makes a similar tasting pot and has held with me for years (and far cheaper than the $130 Cuisinart)
6.) Outdoor rugs are great in the summer.  I've found a few that are made of a heavy-duty plastic material and last much longer than the others.  Just like the sunbrella fabric, if the rugs get wet, they get stinky and take awhile to dry out.  IF you live in a dry climate, GO FOR IT.  While I detest walmart, they have great outdoor rugs for cheap.