With spring here and summer just around the corner it was time to clean up the gazebo area and spruce things up a bit. Boy, was it ever in need!
When we bought the gazebo and set it up four years ago, it came with net curtains. The theory was that, should you ever experience an enormous bug problem, you could simply close the net curtains, zip them up and ... viola! no more bugs. For several reasons, we never used them. In the first place, they seemed like more of a hindrance than a help. By the time you'd run from corner to corner and unfurl the netting, then have it meet in the center of all four 'walls' and get the darn thing zipped up, that bug invasion would be laughing at you as it enjoyed the burgers and potato salad you were trying to keep them away from in the first place. The other reason is, it's rare that we have that many bugs to even bother with. A pass of the hand to shoo along a few flies really about covers it. Besides that, I just think it's creepy to close the nets and be 'zipped in'. It occurs to me that, in essence, it's really giving the bugs free reign while YOU are the ones being held captive. I just think there is something inherently wrong with that picture.
Anyway - all this to say that, after four years of inactivity, we finally took the net curtains down. WOW! What an incredible difference it made! It just made the entire gazebo seem larger and lighter. Definitely a huge improvement. Over and above that, I cannot express to you how NASTY and dirty those curtains were. But ... let's not even go there.
Next, we pulled all of the furniture out to the lawn where it got a good washing and the chair pads got a good cleaning. Next, we moved on to the old paper lanterns that hung from the center of the gazebo. As you might imagine, after four years, they were more than a bit dusty and much more than a bit dilapidated. The once lively blue and green orbs that danced lightly in the breeze had become so faded and 'threadbare' that you could almost see right through them. The cure? Why new paper lanterns, of course! This time I went a bit more 'there's a party waiting to happen here' and bought a variety of colors. They're so fun!
We have several black wrought iron candle holders along the fence that, while nice, are a bit heavy looking for this area. So, I lightened them up with just a hint of white paint. If you were to look closely, you'd still be able to see a bit of the black coming through -- which is fine with me. It just gives it a bit of a lighter touch. And then what's a candle holder without deliciously colored and scented candles? Strawberry Fields seemed just about right.
While all of the furniture was out drying in the sun, we thought we'd attempt to hang a set of gazebo lights that we bought a few months ago. When Kevin took it out of the box, we kind of looked at each other as if to say 'huh?'. It looked like quite a beast. There was a long center strand of lights and four other smaller sets of lights that branched out and two huge bags of clips to clip the strands to the skeleton of the gazebo. We weren't quite sure what we'd gotten ourselves in to, but thought we'd give it a go. Much to our surprise, they were actually quite easy to install. It took less than 30 minutes before the gazebo was strung with tiny white lights. We could hardly wait until dark to see how it looked. It was worth the wait - the lights look beautiful! They set off the gazebo perfectly!
Next a new covering for the table. Over the years I've tried all sorts of things - vinyl tablecloths, bamboo mats, place mats of varying types - but nothing seemed quite right. This time I decided on a beautiful quilt! Why a quilt? Why not?! It's the perfect size for the table, the colors in the quilt blend perfectly with all of the colors we used to spruce up the gazebo and, best of all, when it gets dirty, you can toss the whole thing in the washer and it will come out perfect every time.
Okay, enough talking -- here are a few pictures of the final product: Here's a little mosaic birdbath I made years ago. It's kinda quirky and kinda funky, but I just love it! So there you have it - we're all ready for our first outdoor get-together of the year! ... or at least a good pot of strong coffee and the newspaper.