Welcome to My Paradise

I hate work and I love to vacation. If you can relate then you should probably keep reading. I feel like I miss out on the summer a lot of the time due to shift work. The reason I say this is because when most people are camping, walking their dogs, enjoying the sun on a beach or a patio I am usually working a night shift or the aftermath of. Sleeping and then waking up with a night shift hangover, which if there was a dictionary definition would sound something like this. A sleep deprived person who physically feels as if they have consumed alcohol without the reward of free inhibitions the night before, resulting in the forsaken bat shit nuts unreasonable post night shift brain that causes you to resort to the behaviour of a small child. Symptoms may include headaches, diarrhea, irritability, lack of shits to give, unless you have diarrhea then you have plenty, optional showers before you return to service, and the overwhelming sense that the cycle is terribly wrong. The worst part is there is nothing your tiny soul can do about it.  If it sounds terrible, that’s because it is. For anyone who works shift work you can relate. Which brings me to the reason why I think creating your own oasis at home is so invaluable. 

Creating a space to relax and unwind that is accessible is key. I have tried making plans to be productive after nights but this is usually when I have overestimated my ability to overrule the bat shit night brain. I end up waking up early to reunite with the normal day shift part of society but ultimately, I just end up being irritable and unmotivated.  The fact is I don’t want to leave my house after nights, I want to be able to relax and not think about anything. Being able to come outside into my personal outdoor escape is life changing. As a Canadian we spend a large portion of the year inside and the summer months come and go in the blink of an eye. I believe that being outdoors definitely has a positive impact on my mind-set. It makes me feel happy, stress free and content. My backyard offers a place to be outdoors without committing to leaving my house, especially when I am tired. 

Like most people, I work all year round to go on a vacation. It is always short lived and when I come home I experience post vacation depression. This is the realization that I must go back to work and join reality when I’d rather just remain sipping mojitos on a beach. That is when I decided I needed to bring the vacation to me so I could enjoy it every day and not just once a year. Creating an outdoor living room added an extension of living space to my home. A space where I can enjoy the majority of my summer improving my well-being. When I walk out of my house onto my deck I feel like I am being transported to paradise. I immediately get vacation vibes and all I had to do was open my door. I immediately feel full of glee and truly enjoy relaxing in this space. 

I had a vision of the space in my head that I wanted to create and through trial and error came up with this. I originally had an umbrella with lights mounted underneath it and in one or two crazy Alberta storms it got destroyed. I had purchased it for about $200 CAD. I ended up finding the pergola at Lowes, which in the long run will stand up to the elements far longer than a gazebo or umbrella. At least that’s how I justify the price. It was originally $599 and I waited until it went on sale, because let’s be honest stuff always goes on sale. I bought it Easter weekend when they had an additional 15% off and ended up buying it for $490. When looking at purchasing a big-ticket item I highly recommend checking weekly flyers and holiday sales. Easter weekend, May long weekend etc. tend to have additional sales on top of the already discounted prices. I did not buy everything all at once, some of the bigger items I purchased over time. Initially when starting out I planned on buying one big item a season to lessen the financial setback. I also recommend checking Amazon prior to purchasing anything in store. For example, I found the same brand name outdoor curtains for $30 cheaper on Amazon. I started out with the sectional, and slowly added everything you see to the space. I enjoy shopping, ok that is an understatement…. I live for shopping and absolutely love finding things from different places and putting it all together. I then found things that reminded me of vacation. I love Thailand and tropical getaways so I knew that I wanted the deck to resemble places I had visited. Home Sense is a great place to find outdoor décor and planters for a fraction of the cost of actual outdoor living stores. 

The next step in figuring out how to design a space is to choose your color scheme. I ended up with black, white, beige with red accents. I chose neutral colors for big items so I can change the accent color in the future if I get tired of the red. As I shopped around over many weeks I slowly found pieces that I knew would all come together. I think there is something to be said about buying items for the space over time. Not only does it allow you to budget but it also allows you to find different pieces as stores are constantly adding stock in the summer, and also sales! Wait for things to go on sale, especially at stores that produce weekly flyers. 

We are now in our forever home and I went a little crazy designing this space but I will say that no matter where I have lived, no matter how big or small, I have always created a little outdoor oasis. The time spent outside and the happiness I get from it is amazing. 

Here is a breakdown of items, prices and where I purchased them from:

Pergola-Lowes-$490

Sectional-Ashley Furniture- $950

Blankets-Amazon- $200

Pillows-Home Sense- $60

Chair-Home Sense- $130

Area rug-Wayfair- $80

Palm Tree-Home Depot- $20

Palm Tree Planter-Home Sense- $50

Water Fountain- Facebook Market Place- $70

Fire Column Patio Heater- Wayfair- $430

Patio Edison Bulb String Lights- Costco- $60

Hanging Fern- Home Depot- $30

Succulents-Enjoy Center -$100

Bowl Planter- Home Sense- $10

Violet Plant- Enjoy Center- $25

Buddha Statue- Home Sense- $75

Outdoor Sheer Curtain (6)- Amazon- $145 (Lowes had the exact same ones $175- worth checking Amazon first)

Procrastination at its Finest

I feel like I am one of those people in life who learns things the hard way due to the power of procrastination over my soul. I try to make lists, I try to be organized but in all reality I am like the needle in a haystack. So tiny and small that I get lost in all the adulting around me. The consequences of said procrastination are always in the back of my mind, yet I continue to make decisions that eventually lead to my downfall. Here is one such story of catastrophe… because that is the only word to describe what I was about to experience due to my lack of appropriate decision making. 

I got a puppy. Enough said. End of story. For all dog owners out there you know what I am talking about. They said it wouldn’t be easy. They said it would be awful. They said it would be the best and worst thing I ever did in my life. Sure, I remember my sister telling me about the time her kids let the dog escape from her house without her knowing. Said dog “Chloe” has a never-ending stomach whose entire existence revolves around what she can eat next. She managed to get into her neighbors’ backyard and swallow their expensive steaks whole like a seagull swallowing a fish. Did I mention it was the first BBQ of the season, and as we all know too well in Canada, you wait a solid 5 months without BBQ due to frigid weather. And to the people who BBQ in this weather y”all are cra. To my sisters’ horror, the neighbors informed her of her dogs’ unsightly actions. Needless to say she was beyond horrified. She even offered them her convenient dinner of fish sticks to which they politely declined and opted for the nearest reservation at a restaurant. Despite all of this, despite all the other malicious stories of puppies I had heard, I needed one. I NEEDED to have one. 

Roux

Basically puppies are the devil reincarnate and you should definitely get one. I part blame the dog, whose name is Roux, and I part blame my lack of foresight and incompetence to function on a basic adult level and also Lowes. It was a perfect storm. Which leads us into the paint story. Aaaaah paint. So lovely in its ability to completely transform a space. Ranko and I bought an older house that had a kitchen with “sunshine” yellow walls. Here is the thing about being a paramedic… you relate every color of bodily fluids to the color. In my head I saw bile after vomiting yellow, poop yellow, infection yellow (my least fav), and the obvious urine yellow, but nowhere in there did I see the sunshine part. Especially in a space where I am supposed to be cooking my food… though eating my lunch in the ambulance never discouraged me before but there is something about bringing work home that I try to avoid. I think my job as a paramedic has forever ruined my ability to see bodily function paint colors as “nice’. So after many hours of consideration I decided on an off white, Sherwin Williams Alabaster to be exact. I make medical decisions in a time sensitive manner but you make me choose a paint color and it’s like watching a clam come out of its shell, in real time. 

Sunshine Yellow Wall Color

I have this ability to overestimate the tasks that I take on. While deciding on paint for the kitchen, I got obsessed with refurbished furniture and decided that I was going to buy and restore an old dresser. I had a vision and needed to make it come to life. I was bargaining on Facebook marketplace and found an old dresser that was exactly what I needed. I continued to call my local furniture Sherpa (my friend Jake who has a truck) and scheduled a pickup for said dresser. I fatefully left my recent prized possessions on the kitchen table before I left the house. A slight, a slight part of me thought to put the paint can away as I rushed out of the house and another part thought “it will be fine”. This is the procrastination part of my brain that overrides the normal functional part. “I’ll do it later, it will be fine”. This is one of the hardest lessons I have learned in procrastination. Not because it caused me harm, but because it caused me work. Evil procrastination brain said to leave it and it would be fine. Fast forward two hours later and I came home to a puppy who had pulled the bucket of paint off the kitchen table. I partly also blame Lowes for switching to plastic cans instead of metal. When the can hit the floor the bucket popped open and an entire gallon of paint was free to leak onto our hardwood floors.

The Guilty Party

Roux had no idea what he had done, obviously because he is innocent. He had tracked the paint EVERYWHERE. Then it dried. The only word I could muster was “paint”. I spent the next five minutes trying to corral Roux in the bathroom but due to his delight of me coming home, had to run around like a manic to show me his appreciation of my presence. The one thing about paint is there is no easy way to clean it up. I resorted to using a dust pan to try and scoop the paint that was still wet. I immediately called for backup as I quickly became overwhelmed with the task I had before me. Jake and Brianne graced my presence bearing beer and putty knives. We then spent the next few hours painfully scraping paint off the hardwood floor. I was left with a white grout effect and days later I was still finding paint spatter on the floor. Eventually I found a solution which was a life saver. The stain touchup pen helped to mask the white grout effect and helped to return my floor to a somewhat normal appearance however I will forever have a white paw print on the carpet of the stairs. 

Even the Cat is Displeased
How I fixed the floor

I now know that if I fail to listen to my inner adult there may be severe consequences. I am learning to get better at puppy proofing my home because they are essentially small toddlers trapped in furry bodies.