Saturday, July 18, 2015

Outdoor living (teenage survival plan part 1)

I might have a few years before I have to worry about teenagers hanging out at our house, but since we don't have a basement to shoo them down into, I'm already making a plan.
Part 1 is a totally awesome, inviting backyard. Here in Utah we can use the backyard pretty much 9 months of the year. We've created a really fun outdoor living space on our back deck and are working on our firepit area, too.

We have liked loved adored our more comfortable, functional deck this summer. I fell in love with the idea of a pergola earlier in the spring, but then I realized that what I really wanted was lights strung up on the deck. 

2 10-ft copper pipes, cut to 8-ft lengths (the guy at Home Depot just opened up a pipe cutting tool and cut them for me free of charge)
2 small hooks
2 copper pipe caps
4 copper brackets that fit your pipe and 8 screws
Couldn't be easier! Drill a small hole about 6 inches from the top of your pipe and screw in the hook. Slide the cap onto the end of your pipe. Drill holes through the brackets and screw into place (yes, there are now holes in my vinyl deck railing. I don't care. I will not be taking these lights down!) String lights and enjoy!
I bought some plastic globe lights from (Glass ones break so easily and we get wicked east winds on our street). The string of lights + all the copper hardware only cost $30 total.

The lights are strung over just half of the deck, over our seating area. We've had all this furniture for years, but I moved some pillows from our inside couch to our swing bench. I put the pillow forms into plastic garbage bags and then zipped them back up in the pillow covers. The swing bench folds flat into a futon and Jason and I have been known to pile pillows and blankets on it and bring the computer out to watch movies under the stars. I found the outdoor mat for just $5 and I love how it helps define this space!

On the other side of the deck is our table and chairs. We've never had an outdoor dining set, but I found this one on a Facebook yard sale group. It was such a great deal! The umbrella is huge and covers half the deck. It's the perfect place to sit and enjoy a nice cold glass of fresh lemonade together.

These doors used to be white, but I noticed the wood along the bottom under the jamb was in danger of rotting, so I decided to paint the doors. First I tried black, but it was terrible, then I tried a gray that was even worse, and I finally settled on this gray (Intellectual by Behr). Funny story, I spent so much energy painting and repainting that I never got around to sanding or painting the wood that is actually rotting. Great!!!!
And I love my boxwood wreath and A!
So, until my girls start inviting their friends over on the weekends, Jason and I have been enjoying the deck pretty much every evening. How are you enjoying summer?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Salt Lake City Library Square: our five favorites

One of our favorite places to go for a fun, free family activity is the Salt Lake City Main Library. From books to art to film to architecture, there is something for everyone at this amazing library. 
Here are our five favorites at the City Library!

1. The rooftop gardens
No trip to the library is complete without a ride up the glass elevator to the rooftop gardens and terrace. It's the perfect place for a picnic with stunning views of the valley and mountains. There's even a bee colony (don't worry, they're tucked away where you can see them but not get to them)!

Speaking of the glass elevators... while up on the roof, you can even watch the mechanics of them as they move up and down!

When you're done on the roof, ride the elevator back down or take the stairs along the sweeping ramp--yes, you can actually walk on that iconic ramp!

2. The free film events
One of my favorite date nights is going to a free movie at the library. The library partners with other community organizations like the Utah Film Center and the Natural History Museum of Utah to present science-themed movies followed by discussions led by experts once a month. Jason and I have gone to see "Doc of the Dead" and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (and the discussion after that one was fascinating!) There are also children's movies the first Saturday of the month and other themed movie events--check out the full list here.
If you're imagining watching a movie in the multipurpose room at the local branch of your public library, you're probably thinking that going to a movie at the library doesn't sound all that great. The movies at the main branch of the SLC library are shown in an auditorium with comfy auditorium seating--it's not a movie theater, but it's also not watching a movie in a meeting room!

3. The children's library
The children's library is on the bottom level and is a completely separate, private library-in-a-library. It's filled with toys for toddlers and younger kids, rugs and cozy child-size couches and chairs. There are child size bathrooms, a coatroom to park that big old diaper bag and stroller, and a baby care room with changing station and rocker. There are often children's crafts and activities going on in the children's library. If you're a member of the library, you can check out one of the many themed backpacks they have that are filled with books and simple toys and activities (alphabet, potty training, counting, animals, etc)

But my girls will tell you the best parts of the children's library are the two themed reading rooms:

The Ice Cave, complete with a skylight in the roof that is under the reflecting pool outside the library--so the light is constantly changing and rippling as the water moves.

The Attic, complete with tons of beams that are just right for climbing on.
We love gathering a stack of books and finding an out of the way alcove in one of these reading rooms to read, play, and explore together. 

4. The architecture and art
If you've ever driven past the library, you've probably noticed it's amazing architecture. It's a fun building to look at from the street, but it's even more fun to explore! There are soaring ceilings, glass elevators, spiral staircases, walls of windows, water features, sculptures, art exhibits, fountains, shops and counter service restaurants, reflecting pools, you name it!

If there is a book lover in your life, then this is the place to go for gifts. Magnets, book marks, pens, books, stuffed animals and dolls, journals, jewelry, pins, wax seals--it's so fun just to browse! And the prices are actually comparable to Amazon (they carry my favorite baby books, the Babylit series, at Amazon prices). I always stop in for Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers.

So there you have it, our top five reasons to visit the City Library. It's a place that we have gone many times, and it never gets old. Check it out!

Salt Lake City Main Library
210 East 400 South, SLC.
Parking: metered on 200 East along the library block, but if you go south one block (past 500 South) there is free street parking.