With thoughts of Mexican sunshine, palm trees, and salty air still swirling in my head, I am SO ready to spend the remaining Summer outdoors. Which means I really need to get to work on the mess that has become my backyard. I suppose I’m exaggerating a bit – it really isn’t all that terrible, but it could definitely use a little personality. A trellis with grape vines in the back corner, some lavender and wild flowers, a small privacy trellis along the patio with some flowering vines creeping up…yes, that would do quite nicely. But the pergola, dear Lord, that’s a whole different story! It needs work.

Backyard Pergola Dining Chippy Side Table on Pergola

Currently, it consists of a hand-built table that my husband threw together out of old pallets found behind our house, cheap plastic chairs gladly passed along by my father, a glass-topped bistro table I had in my old apartment, an awkwardly sized vintage table I bought for a dime simply because I liked the chippy turquoise, and some decorative wall piece I found at Home Goods many moons ago. The chairs at either end of the table are actually lovely chairs purchased on a whim at Arhaus – a definite splurge considering we had no actual plan or space for them. I don’t even think they were meant to be outdoors, but there they reside nevertheless.

So one of the projects I have in store for the summer is a complete overhaul of said pergola. I know I just gave myself the challenge of spending less in order to travel more, but 1. this is already a project in the works, and 2. it’s kind of like creating a travel destination within the home, yes?

Seriously, I could make excuses all day, but there is nothing better than sitting outside with a beer in hand, watching your dogs and child play, all while being slightly protected from the blaring sun. Am I right?! So while we don’t have plans to enclose the pergola, we do have the thought to roof it. Honestly, I’m still a little torn on the idea, but this is what is currently in my head:

 Bohemian Styled Pergola

via Country Living

Still minimal, but with a boho (almost Mexican) vibe. Which means lots of greenery! Unfortunately, I don’t have the greenest thumb in the world, but I’m working really hard to remedy this.

I was also thinking about adding outdoors curtains to soften the space a little, like this, but with a more lightweight, airy fabric (maybe mosquito netting?):

Make Your Own Outdoor Pergola Curtains! (click through for tutorial)

Image via A Beautiful Mess

And string lights are most definitely in order. But other than that, I’m kind of at a loss / totally open to wherever the wind shall take me. Should I build a corner bar in the far right corner or should I build extra seating? Should I hang some kind of fun, quirky seating in the left corner…?

Outdoor Hanging Chair Options

Images via The Merrythought and Broste Copenhagen

Or should I simply dedicate that space for all things green? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!

ps…how about this for a little backyard inspiration!


With summertime officially in full force, I have no doubt that many travels, soirees and barbeques will ensue (ehem, Independence Day anyone??). And as those invites pile up, so will your need to find the perfect host/hostess gift that really expresses your heartfelt thanks. Of course, oftentimes a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer will do the trick! But what to do when you want to give your thanks that little extra oomph…?

Fret not my friends! I have teamed up with Hometalk to curate a little DIY gift giving guide just for you:


All of these projects are quick, easy, and can be created with what you may already have on hand – and most importantly, will leave your host feeling all tingly inside!

  1. Simmer Potpourri: A mason jar and a few household ingredients is all it takes to turn a house into a home – a good smelling home! Next time you head to a housewarming party, jar up this simple recipe and hand it over as a congratulatory gift. Just remember to make enough for yourself!
  2. Framed Chalkboard: I’m of the mind that one can never have too many chalkboards – especially if you like to host parties. Next time you head to a party, bring a framed chalkboard instead of a thank you card. Bonus if you pair it with flowers or a boxwood plant!
  3. Avocado Seed in a Jar: Remember those childhood days when you’d stick toothpicks in a seed and watch it slowly sprout over the summer? Well, now is the perfect time to go old-school and give the gift of life with this avocado seed! Perfect for a garden-themed or child’s party…and who doesn’t love a little guacamole?
  4. Natural Branch Coasters: After the recent summer storms, you may have a fallen branch or tree laying around in your yard. Instead of chucking it, put it to good use and create beautifully natural coasters! Tie up a set with twine and pair with a pitcher of lemonade or iced tea.
  5. Refinished Breadboards: I am in love with breadboards of all shapes and sizes. Not only are they incredibly useful when hosting a party, they also make excellent wall and table décor! Next time you’re invited to a cocktail party, bring a little added bonus to your gift of wine and cheese by including a baguette with a refinished breadboard (found on a dime at thrift stores, flea markets, yard sales, etc.).
  6. Book Page Rope Bowl: I am in LOVE with this easy-to-do project! All it takes is an old or cheap bowl, a bundle of rope or twine, misc. book pages (or you can use scrap fabric), and a glue gun and voila! Not only did you just clean out your cabinet of an old bowl, but you’ve made yourself an amazing gift for your host. Fill with seasonal fruit for a delicious thank you!
  7. Memo Board: Sometimes, a sweet and simple note is all you need to say thank you. Attach it to a handmade message board for a gift your host will use over and over again!
  8. Who doesn’t love decorative and delicious smelling soap?! With just a few ingredients and 20 minutes, you’ve got yourself a gift your hostess will love.
  9. Rosemary-Citrus Goat’s Milk Soap Bars: If you plan on crashing with friends or family over your summer travels, this is the perfect gift to pack with you. With just a few ingredients and 20 minutes of your time, you’ve got yourself a deliciously fragrant gift your host is unlikely to forget (and a batch makes plenty of gifts to go around)!
  10. Antique Window Signage: I come across antique windows of all shapes and sizes throughout my pickings – and most come at a super cheap price. Try to collect a few during your next antiquing session and you’ll have a guaranteed gift for your next party. Simply add a stencil and pair with flowers, or cookies, or, my personal favorite to go along with a “milk & cream” sign – gourmet coffee! Because your host will definitely need a little pick-me-up.

Have these ideas gotten your creative juices flowing yet? If so, head on over to Hometalk for much more inspiration! There are 10 more projects – you heard me, 10 more! – that will make those juices boil over. And you’ll never have to worry about heading to a party empty-handed again.