5 Essentials For Outdoor Fall Events

This time of year is full of entertaining opportunities, and it is lovely to spend those last moments before the winter freeze outdoors. Debbie Lewis is here to share 5 Essentials for Outdoor Fall Events.

5 Essentials

For Outdoor Fall Events

When the weather starts to take on a cool edge and the days begin to grow shorter, you might think you’re doomed to be cooped up indoors for the next several months. However, you can still enjoy being outside. All you need to do is create an outdoor space where you and your guests can be comfortable even during the fall and winter months. Here are some essentials that you’ll need:

A Fireplace

Image via Flickr by Jarsin Trevino

Yes, you could tell your guests to wear lots of layers, but that isn’t nearly as comfortable or relaxing as sitting by a fire. Contact local experts who can help you design an outdoor fireplace that complements your home’s décor and will serve as a cozy place where you can sit and swap stories while you snack on smores.

Another option is to buy a metal fireplace from your local home improvement store, but that lacks the class and longevity of a permanent stone fireplace that you and your guests will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Adequate Lighting

When you host fall and winter outdoor events, the last thing you want is to have to send your guests home when the sun sets. Make sure you have adequate lighting so no one trips and gets hurt. You can have a floodlight attached to your house, but that may not be enough. Think about installing small solar-powered lights along walkways outside your home.

Search the internet for creative ideas on how to light your home’s exterior. You can also use candles in mason jars to add an extra touch of elegance, or you could string up icicle lights for a lovely holiday party. The possibilities are endless!

A Patio

Image via Flickr by Mr_Wahlee

When the weather is dry, it might be no problem to have guests relaxing in your grassy yard. During fall and winter, however, the grass will often be wet and muddy. When temperatures take a plunge, your yard could even become slippery to the point of being dangerous. A paved patio provides a safe walking surface. If necessary, you can place rubber mats on it to make it even safer.

An Outdoor Kitchen

Image via Flickr by Roger Mommaerts

Your outdoor kitchen doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it does need to have some basics. It could be as simple as a grill, a bin to keep drinks in, and a storage place for outdoor cooking supplies. You should also have a place where you can keep carafes of hot drinks, such as coffee and cocoa, so your guests can help themselves to something warm and tasty whenever they want.

Overhead Covering

Image via Flickr by Bellafaye Garden

If you live in an area where rain is common in fall and winter, you’ll have to prepare for that liquid sunshine when you’re planning your outdoor event. You can buy some sturdy patio umbrellas, or you could build an awning or a gazebo that will provide shelter from drizzles and raindrops.

Sometimes it is nice to stay indoors during fall and winter. However, you and your guests can still get outside and enjoy the fresh autumn air.

 

 

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Solar Lamp DIY – Light Your Outdoor Living Space

Make your summer nights beautiful by creating your own outdoor ambiance with this Solar Lamp DIY project.

 

Solar Lamp DIY

Add Some Style to Your Outdoor Living

 

I have been wanting to make a solar lamp for our backyard patio area for a long time. So, I kept an eye out for the perfect base to accomplish my goal. Luke and I stumbled upon a tall candlestick with a concrete base that we thought would work perfectly.

Gather What You Need:

Since this lamp is tall and will be outside (where you may get a breeze), we needed a heavy base to support the lamp. We found our base on clearance at one of our favorite craft and hobby stores. You could also find a heavy candlestick or lamp base at a thrift store or garage sale.

We picked up a hanging plant basket, a solar yard lamp, and a long screw with a washer to complete our project needs list. Choose a yard lamp and planter basket that fit the proportions of your base stand. We already had a can of black spray paint, some fine-to-medium sandpaper, and a couple pieces of scrap wood. You will also need zip ties, a pair of vice grips, saw, miter box, and a drill.

Make A Plan:

The first step in our project was to assess our components and come up with a plan that would work the best to provide stability and durability. Make sure you measure everything, so you can be sure to have the proper length screw(s), etc. for your project. Having a solid plan helps the work go together faster.

Get Started with the Fitting Process:

We removed the glass candle holder (I used that for something else later). As you can see in the first photo, our glass candleholder sat down inside a metal dish attached to our stand. A second metal piece inside the glass allowed for a screw to hold the glass to the stand. This second piece turned over and fit perfectly over the first piece. We made a wood block to fill the space to give strength and stability to support our yard lamp and planter basket. We marked it with an “X” to find the center for drilling a hole for the screw.

Take the stem off your solar yard lamp. Measure the stub on the lamp that the stem fits over. Then, decide how tall you want your lamp to be with the planter basket shade on it. Once you have the proper height, measure and cut the stem. We used a saw and miter box.

Now, you want to find a scrap of wood that you can cut (and file if needed) to fit snugly inside the stem. This will add strength to your stem to support the weight of the lamp head and planter basket. You want to cut this wood to a length where your screw will go from the top of the wood and screw into the base of your lamp. This screw is what holds the lamp together. Make sure there is plenty of room for the screw head and lamp stub to fit easily into the stem. Drill a hole all the way through the scrap wood (length-wise). Then, shove the wood scrap inside the stem, it should be tight.

Getting the Lampshade Ready:

A wire hanging planter basket makes a great lampshade for your solar lamp (use the coconut liner for another garden basket). The one problem with the basket is the bottom wire supports. They will cut across the solar panel of the lamp. Those wires need to be removed. A pair of vice grips makes this an easy job. Just a little wiggle and jiggle, and you’re done. Watch this quick video:

 

How simple is that?

 

Test Fit:

It is always important to test fit any project. Get the bugs out, and make any tweaks and adjustments that are needed, before you put on the final paint and polish.

Start by making sure your base is ready to add the solar lamp. For us, that meant having the wood block in place inside the metal dish. Then, take the screw, with the washer, and place it through the solar lamp stem. Tighten the screw, attaching it to the base. Notice the wood does not fill the entire stem, so there is room for the screw head and the lamp stub. Place the solar lamp stub into the stem.

Set planter basket upside down on top of the solar lamp, to create a lampshade. Decide where you will need to drill the lamp cap to place zip ties for attaching the lampshade.

Attach the Lampshade:

Since we did not paint the planter basket, we attached the lamp shade to the solar lamp cap. We had a square cap, so we drilled holes on either side of each corner edge, and threaded the zip ties through. We used white for the pictures for you, so they would be easier to see.

Time for Paint:

Rough-up the base and all pieces that need painting with some fine-to-medium sandpaper, so the paint will stick well. Spray in short, even bursts at a distance of about 12 inches. Make sure everything dries thoroughly before assembling the lamp.

You can see that we changed out the white zip ties for black ones for our finished product.

I know you will enjoy this solar lamp as much as we do. It was a fun project to create, and we are getting lots of use out of it. Impress your family and friends!

Looking for another fun idea for outdoor entertaining? Check out my DIY – Bug Umbrellas For Party Drinks!

 

 

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DIY Outdoor Lighting From Discount Store Vases

Another great DIY project just in time for those Spring and Summer nights on the veranda, in the yard,  or on the porch swing! Thank you, Michelle James, our Regular Contributor.

 

Discount Store Vases to Outdoor Lighting

An Easy DIY Project to Enhance Outdoor Living

 

Hi everyone!  I love creating new outdoor lighting for my patio.  Last year I created these hanging lights; so this year, I wanted something to go on my patio table.  I headed to my favorite discount store and came up with this.

 

To make these super easy lights you need the following supplies:

  • Vases from the discount store – you can choose from the shapes and sizes but make sure the solar light will rest on the top of the vase without falling in.
  • Solar Lights – also from the discount store
  • Oil based Sharpie Markers

 

 

How to Make the Outdoor Lights:

  • You will need to remove the stake part of the solar light so you have just the light part.

 

 

  • Now you will be decorating your vases using the oil based markers.  I wanted to make some dandelions.  I know they are weeds and I don’t like them in my yard but I do like them in décor.  I have seen some really great pins that involve dandelions.
  • I started with the green stem.  I drew one long stem then on the opposite side of the vase I drew a shorter stem.

 

 

  • Now make the lines to form the “flower” by starting at the top of the stem.  Draw lines coming out from the top of the stem all the way around to create a circle of lines.

 

 

  • After you have the lines done, use the tip of the pen and make a “dot” at the end of each line.

 

 

  • Now add more “dots” inside the flower.  I added them on lines all of the way around and down to the stem.

 

 

  • Then create some fly away blooms by creating short line with a dot at the end.  I had them fly up the vase so it looks like they are taking off into the air. So easy!

 

 

  • Once you have your painting done you will need to cure it in the oven.  Place them on a baking sheet and put them into a cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 200 degrees.  Let them bake for 1 hour then turn off the oven and let it cool.  Then remove them.  I did all of this in the evening so after I turned off the oven I just left them in until the next morning.
  • If they need to be washed, they should be carefully hand washed.

 

 

 

I hope you liked these and will give them a try.  I can’t wait for warmer days, when I can sit outside.

Have great day!

Until next time,

Michelle

 

 

Visit Michelle at her blog, Michelle James Designs!

Do you have any fun lighting ideas?

How do you like to use your outdoor living spaces?

 


 

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Halloween Night 2014

 

Happy Halloween!

Hope you all had a wonderful fun-filled Halloween Night 2014.

Halloween Night 2014 was one of the best Halloweens ever! We had such an awesome time last night with our trick-or-treaters. The jack-o’-lanterns were a huge success. Neighbors were telling neighbors and sending them over to see it all. Our yard was the ultimate photo spot for the evening.

Here’s what the house looked like…


My neighbor gave me this gorgeous antique Victorian loveseat and two matching chairs this past Monday. It was perfect for relaxing in the courtyard and greeting our Halloween guests, and it really set the tone for our Halloween Night 2014. Luke drilled holes in my little black cauldron, so I could use my hanging plant stand for our candy.

 


We had tons of fun decorating for Halloween… here’s what the front of the house looked like.

 

Luke made special shelves for displaying my pumpkins. They attached to the wrought iron of the brick wall, and are completely reusable for next year!

 

We recycled these concrete bench legs from our DIY Courtyard Project as Pumpkin Pedestals. They really added a Gothic feel.

 

The pumpkin shelves were nearly invisible. It was such a cool look.

 

Everyone wanted to get up close and personal with the jack-o’-lanterns. To complete the mood for the evening, we had a collection of 23 versions of Grim Grinning Ghosts playing in the background. The music almost made the Singing Graveyard Busts come to life. All in all, it was a super fun Halloween Night 2014!

 

And the remainder of the pumpkins I carved for Halloween…

You can check out the first two pumpkins of the season, Singing Graveyard Busts and Drac-n-Bat’s ’32 here.

Cat-Walking Witch 2014
Screaming Tree 2014
Creeper Monster 2014
We’re Watching You…Beware! 2014

If you’d like see even more pumpkins, Click Here!

I hope your Halloween was every bit as wonderful as ours.

How do you decorate for Halloween?

Do you have any special Halloween traditions?

Leave me a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

~Lorelai

 

 

 

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Lamppost – Courtyard Project DIY – Part Two

Courtyard Project – DIY Makeover Part Two…

Remember this trench from my post, Courtyard Project – DIY Makeover Begins!? I told you then that the trench had something to do with a present from Luke and Rory. If you Follow Me on INSTAGRAM, you know that I received a gorgeous lamppost for my birthday!

A Courtyard Lamppost

I have always adored old-fashioned lampposts. I even love the word lamppost and the way it’s spelled, LOL. As we were hard at work in renovating my courtyard this summer, we would sit exhausted at the end of a long evening trying to cool down. The problem we had was not a new one–the courtyard was dark. The two sensor-ed lights would not stay on for any length of time causing us to have to walk up to the light and wave our arms around like lunatics to get the lights to turn back on again. This was definitely not a relaxing way to take a break.

So Luke and Rory put their noodles together and concocted an amazingly wonderful idea for my birthday present. I can’t even tell you how excited and happy I still am about my lamppost.

We Got To Work…

The lamppost project was a big undertaking. We needed to:

  1. Dig a trench from the lamppost location to the house (including under about 10 feet of brick patio).
  2. Break through concrete.
  3. Run electrical out to the lamppost and inside the house .
  4. Tap into the house electrical.
  5. Install a wall switch inside the house.
  6. Mock-up and Test Fit throughout process.
  7. Build a brick pedestal for the lamppost to raise it a little and also help keep the base from standing in water when it rains.
  8. Strengthen and stabilize the base.
  9. Put together the lamppost and connect electricity.

 

See how we did it…

We dug trenches along the brick out to the lamppost site and also in the side yard where the electrical hook-up would be placed. We dug cavities under the bricks and wall on each end.

Then we hooked up the Hydro-Pipe that Luke made for tunneling under the 10 feet of bricks and wall.  The Hydro-Pipe was made of galvanized pipe with a threaded elbow at one end for attaching a hose and a hose nozzle at the other end.

We attached the hose and turned on the water. This was amazing. What an ingenious way to flush out a tunnel for laying the electrical pipe. Mud bath anyone?

There were three galvanized pipes sticking up through bricks where an L-shaped bench had been cemented in place. That bench long ago rotted away, and we had some concrete benches sitting over those upright pipes. We too out two of the pipes and left the middle one to help support the lamppost, and hopefully to use for running electrical wire. So, Luke went to work trying to break-out a hole in the concrete at the pipe end to fit electrical pipe through.

We laid the electrical pipes, ran the wires, and tapped into the house electricity.

We put a wall switch inside the house to operate the lamppost.

Then it was time to lay the brick pedestal as the base for our lamppost. I wanted the lamppost to be a little higher, and the pedestal will also keep the base of the actual lamppost from standing in water when it rains.

The square wood contraption is a brick leveler and spacer that Luke put together. He slid he wood over the galvanized pipe and manipulated the screw for leveling. The bricks fitted up against the sides of the wood and were level with the top of the wood.


Then we cemented in the bricks, removed the spacer, and filled the center with cement. The joints were pressed and angled slightly to allow water to run off the brick pedestal.


While the cement was drying, we connected the electricity from the house to the wall switch and out to the lamppost.

Luke welded together a stabilizer for the lamppost. It slid down over the galvanized pipe and rested on the brick pedestal. The screws on the upright part, where used for centering, while the screw on the bottom where used for leveling and attaching the base to the bricks.

The lamppost base fit right down over the stabilizer and onto the bottom leveling screws where acorn nuts were used for tightening. We constructed the lamppost according to the boxed directions, and finished hooking up the electrical. And then,

It was time to Light the Lamppost…

Isn’t it beautiful? I am so pleased with how it turned out. I’m thinking this is the most amazing birthday gift I have ever received.

Think about all the possibilities for decorating this beauty for the different holidays!

Here it is all gussied up for Halloween!

This project was a lot of work, but we had a great time working together and getting it done. And we gained  a sense of accomplishment and pride, along with a gorgeous new courtyard lamppost.

What do you have on your Wish List?

Do you have a project in your plans?

The Pumpkin Prayer  was featured at the 25th Pretty Pintastic Party!
Thanks for the honor; I’m thrilled!

Leave me a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

~Lorelai

 

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Pumpkin Carving – Carving & Lighting Tips & Tricks

Create and Illuminate!

Here are some Carving &Lighting Tips & Tricks for your pumpkin that will take your design to another level. Differing depths give your carving light and shadows, and can create something almost life like when illuminated.

The unlit carving doesn’t always portray the greatness of the design. Take a look at this example…

We can learn a lot by comparing these two images. Notice the multiple levels in this carving. We have areas that are completely cut out, areas that are barely scraped (such as Brunhilda’s hood on the right side of the picture), and other areas with differing depths. These depths give your carving intricate detail and help create your design and bring it to life. Look at the warts and creases, the jutting chin, crooked nose, lips, and piercing eyes.

Would you have imagined that the illuminated carving would look like this just by seeing the unlit carving?

Let’s look at a few other examples.

You can see the flames on the side of the FrankenRod are carved deeper into the flesh of the pumpkin, which will make them lighter when the carving is lit. Take a look at the details of the engine, the three carburetors on top have deep holes in them, but are not completely cut out. The cut out area of the headlight gives the illusion of the light really being lit.

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde is a good example of how you can texturize your carving with varying depths. In this case the depths created a skyline as well as Dr. Jeckyll’s face.

The Frightful Carriage Ride is an example of a carving created more by cut out than by sculpting. When you carve out lots of areas, be sure to leave the pieces in place until the end. Granted, some may fall out on there own, but don’t pull them out, they will help keep your design in tact while you work. In this design, there was so much delicate cut out work that I did not fully cut all of the pieces so they would help hold the pumpkin together while I worked in other areas. The large pieces were taken out in smaller chunks to preserve the design.

Carving and Sculpting Tips & Tricks:

  1. Use a bowl for stabilization and easy turning of the pumpkin. Resting the pumpkin in a bowl allows you to maneuver the pumpkin so you can better see the design, get a better angle for carving, and be able to position you hand in an area that is not delicately cut. The bowl also provides you both hands for carving. That way you can stick your hand inside the pumpkin to gently hold intricate areas while sculpting or carving.
  2. Place a towel under your bowl to keep it from sliding so easily.
  3. Start in the center of design and work your way out.
  4. Do the most detailed areas first.
  5. Don’t necessarily cut out an entire area that is cut through. If it is highly detailed, leave parts uncut so that it will be stronger for the remainder of the work.
  6. If an area will be very small or “weaker” when cut-out, do any shading or sculpting work before you cut it.
  7. Leave large pieces in place after cutting to help with stability.
  8. Drill Bits – you can use these by hand to make perfect circles. They also work well for starting cuts in tiny areas.
  9. Pumpkin Saws – Larger saws are for longer straighter cuts. As the design gets smaller or curvier, use the smaller saws.
  10. Wood working tools, Linoleum tools, and exact-o knives work well. Gouge tools – V-shape, U-shape, Round, Flat.
  11. Differing depths of sculpting will give light and shade to your carving.
  12. Taking a break in your carving? Place a damp paper towel over the carved area. If you will be away from your carving for more than 1-hour, place pumpkin in a plastic bag and refrigerate. (When you return to carving, pat dry the pumpkin with a dry paper towel. Be careful not to smudge your pattern.)

Lighting Tips & Tricks:

There are three types of lighting for your carved pumpkin–battery operated, electric, and candle.

Battery Operated: In my experience, these work best if you can stack them so the light gets up behind your carving. The lights are not very bright, so they do not illuminate your design that well.

Candle: If you are using a candle, you need to light the candle and let it burn for a minute, then blow it out. Turn the pumpkin over and see where the smoke hit the inside of the pumpkin. You will need to create a chimney there. You can do this by using a larger sized drill bit to create a hole. Candles do not provide the best light for your design.

Electric: This is by far my favorite way of illuminating a carved pumpkin masterpiece! I found these electric lights at Joanne’s. They are made with a spring stand so they can stretch or bend to the perfect position for your carving. My spring stand lights  have replaceable night light bulbs (7-watt). They provide marvelous light for my designs.

Another way to use electric lights is to wrap a strand of  “Christmas” lights around a mason jar.

With electric lights, you also have the option to use colored light bulbs for a spookier ambiance.

NOTE: Having the hole in the bottom of the pumpkin keeps you from having the cord flopping out over the top of your pumpkin.

So there you have it, Carving & Lighting Tips & Tricks for your pumpkin!

Do you have any carving tips & tricks?

How do you like to illuminate your jack-o-lantern?

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