May 20, 2018:


Yesterday Prince Harry married American Meghan Markle and I couldn't get enough of the royal wedding. What a gorgeous dress, the bride was radiantly beautiful and the church at Windsor - oh my goodness, the flowers alone were soooo beautiful. There's nothing like a good love story to make one appreciate how precious we can be (and should be) to each other.

I'm glad the weather was perfect yesterday for the new Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding. I can't say the same for around here. Spring keeps teasing and then going away. This morning I woke up to a "balmy" 47 degrees F outside, rain, damp, and I turned the heat back on! It's May 20th, the heat. should. not. be. on. Period.

Last Thursday, however, was beautiful. I was able to get a goodly amount of yard and garden clean-up done over several days last week. I also took some photos of my flowering tree anchoring the north corner of my house and made the current collage. I think it's an ornamental cherry, and on the the other end of the house, I think that's called a purple sand cherry? I'll have to check that. The blossoms on the tree do not have a distinct fragrance, but the purple shrub that wants to be a tree (despite my hacking it back, back and back yearly - I'm losing, by the way) has myriad blossoms with a distinct fragrance. I can't decide if the scent is too beautiful to bear or too awful to smell, it certainly can be overpowering!

This coming week will be the third cut of the grass this season. We had rain late Friday night and then for several hours earlier this morning. This rain, on top of the rain we had over four days the prior weekend, and the grass is growing like nobody's business! I don't mind doing the grass, though, as long as it's not too hot, too cold, not raining, and not too windy. I'm not picky at all, am I...

I still have a lot of raking out of areas that suffered from snow mold over the winter, and have not yet really tackled cleaning out the north flower bed in the backyard. That will be a chore!

But Memorial Day weekend is coming. This coming Saturday I will be out with a friend (who has a nice large van - goody!) stocking up on potting soil, top soil to fill in never-ending low spots in the yard, grass seed, and lots of plants! For some reason, this spring seems busier than those in prior years. I can't figure out why that is...


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Screen Porch/Screen House Envy

Hola darlings!

I have wanted a screened-in porch just about forever, it seems!  It was one of those things, though, that has always gotten put on the back burner because, being a family of one maintaining this household, money is always in demand and always in short supply for lots of other things.   Sigh.

I got by okay.  The last few summers have often been so uncomfortably hot and sticky that even with a screened-in porch I wouldn't have been outside any more than I had to anyway! 

But - and I'm suspect that many of you have experienced the same thing -- when I started looking at decorating blogs I started seeing all kinds of fantastic decks, porches, screened gazebos, screen houses and screened-in porches.  ENVY was born.  Alas.  Mea culpa and all that jazz.  I'm a sinner, I admit it.

I recently saw this really neat project at Slowly Faded Treasures that a wife, her handy hubby, some help from a few friends and some pitching in from parental units constructed a full-fledged screened-in patio!

There are lots of photographs of the construction of this project from beginning to this stage, where furniture has been set in place.  The photo above was from June 17th at the end of the blog entry.  I think it is just heavenly!  Oh, would I love a spot like this one for myself.

Alas, I do not have a handy hubby who can build something like this by going to the local home improvement center, buying the necessary wood, nails, joist hangers, screening, roofing panels, etc. etc. and just more or less whip it all together!  While he is willing, Mr. Don is not up to undertaking a project like this and he's 1000 miles away most of the year anyway.  I have some handy nephews but they are busy doing their own thing and -- actually, I have found that sometimes relying on family to commence and then actually finish a job is a somewhat "iffy" proposition, if you know what I mean...

Right now, of course, many blogs are chock full of beautiful photographs of revamped decks and updated screened-in porches, not to mention front porches, side porches, back porches, sun-rooms, and oh my!  Each is wonderful in its own way and all I can do is look and sigh.  Envy Envy Envy!

While I was inspired by Debbie Dabble's just oh so comfy looking front porch and back yard patio area (here's an example) to spruce up my deck by using what I already had at hand, and I am much happier with that space now than I was before, my head has been swimming with visions of painting a checkerboard design on the deck, painting the patio furniture, installing some kind of lighting other than the flood light, and getting screening installed some way, some how, to protect me from being eaten alive by the bugs! For, alas, I am an absolute bug magnet. 

None of this daydreaming has any relation to the realities of my pocketbook or my available time, let alone my level of energy these days (pretty much crappy), of course :)

Not having the wherewithal to actually construct my own screened-in space, I started casting my eyes at those portable gazebos I see in advertisements from Menards, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. etc. in every Sunday's newspaper.  Here is a very pretty one from K-Mart online -- on sale now because it's like the end of the summer season already, geez!

Garden Oasis Trellis Gazebo. Regular price $599,
on sale right now (June 27, 2012) for $420.
10' x 12', cloth roof, mosquito netting included, steel frames.

Price-wise, it would be doable. Unfortunately, I would not be able to put one up, let alone tear it down whenever a serious storm threatened, by myself.  Hiring someone to do the initial install would be possible, but doing quick roof removal in the event of threatening weather, or an even further tear-down when really severe weather threatens, which often can blow up very quickly around here, or what if it happens while I'm at the office?  I have seen many photos at many different blogs of lovely tent-like gazebos with metal supports at the four corners and zip down screens that look pretty darn sturdy.  I have read accounts of many different clever solutions to reinforcing those aluminum (or sometimes steel) support posts and such by various methods.  All of that is quite beyond my skill set.  In addition, the roofs and other sections of the outer skin of these structures are made out of various kinds of woven synthetic and/or natural materials and it seems these materials need replacement every few years, except in the mildest of climates and conditions, and that's not southeast Wisconsin!  That $$ would quickly add up.  No, it just wouldn't work. So, reluctantly, I scratched the idea of a portable gazebo.

As I continued looking around, I discovered that there are gazebos similar to the one pictured above (from K-Mart) except they have "hard" roofs made out of a tough plastic material, thus adding a degree of ruggedness in climates where snow occurs and eliminating the necessity to remove a cloth roof in stormy or snowy.  Hmmmmm, said I to myself, worth a look...

Here is a Penguin brand model found at K-Mart, 10x12 which would fit on my existing deck:

Gazebo Penguin 10'x12' Four Season Gazebo
Regularly $1799 on sale right now (June 27, 2012) for $1709
The photos above are representative of many of the gazebos with mosquito mesh that I found and not meant to be an endorsement of any particular store or brand.  I looked at MANY different kinds at all different sorts of on-line vendors.  Whew!

Once I came across the Penguin brand, I did further research on just that brand because I wanted to learn more about these hard-roofed stand-alone gazebos.  I found a couple of options of sturdier looking screened in structures -- one stand alone, and one that attaches to your house.  Again, this is not meant to be a product endorsement.  There may be other manufacturers who offer similar types of structures -- so I will need to do more research.  However, a structure similar to one of these shown below seems to provide some solutions to my situation of being a woman who can't put up something or take it down in any amount of time, let along quickly, and doesn't have ready access to strong (or weak) male help!

The image above is a 12' x 12' Penguin Four Season Solarium (from Wayfair).  When I saw it I went "Oooooohhhhhh!"  It's made of sturdier stuff than the more portable gazebos but would still need to be seriously anchored down to a deck or patio one way or another.  This one is more of a stand-alone screen house or screen room.  Love it!  This particular model was/is on sale at Wayfair for $2315, regularly priced at $2490. 

Last image for this blog post is a Penguin "Add a Room" Gazebo. This one doesn't have a hard top roof, but at 7.5' x 11' and attached to my house on the wall with the patio door opening, it's a cost-conscious alternative to the entirely enclosed four season solarium even though it doesn't have a hard-top roof.  (Maybe it could be tinkered with in such a way to add some stronger pvc or ??? "hard" panels and reinforced with some 2x4s to withstand the rigors of a Wisconsin winter and become a more or less permanent structure???)  I know in this photo it doesn't look very large, but I measured the space out on my deck and it would hold my round patio table and the four chairs that are presently set out without "squishing", and there would be about 4 feet of space at the wide end of the deck to pull out a chair comfortable if one wanted to be in an unscreened environment.  This Penguin model (from Wayfair) is $1454 on sale, regular price is $2192:

What I find particularly useful and attractive about the two Penguin items (Four Season Solarium and "Add a Room" Gazebo, both above) are the entirely framed-in screens, that offer the promise of something more sturdy as far as screening out insects in a wind.  Mosquito mesh is lovely, but in any kind of wind, unless it is really anchored down somehow or other, it is going to blow all over the place. 

As always, it pays to shop around online to find the best price and shipping deal.  Online reviews are also valuable resources, because they reveal purchasers' experiences with installing and subsequent use and ownership of the various products. 

Unless I purchase a home that already has a screened-in porch or a large enough porch structure that could possibly be screened in by a capable carpenter or talented amateur (not moi!) for a reasonable cost, my options are, realistically, limited to these "already built" or "almost built" options. 

In the meantime, I continue to Envy all of those blog-featured screened gazebos, screened-in porches, etc. etc.  Sigh.


  1. Hello, I just wanted to say thanks for looking at my blog and posting about it. I know we had orginally looked at doing a portable porch, but with us living in Kansas, the heat, the wind and the hail would have taken a toll on it. That is why we decided to bite the bullet and make it permanent. That, and our concrete had to be either covered, or repoured. We opted for covering it:) Anyway, good luck on whatever you choose. I know you will enjoy it!

    1. Hi Sarah,

      I really enjoyed reading your blog post and following along with all the photos through the construction process. You made it really understandable and I enjoyed it immensely. I have to tell you that one thing that drives me nuts at some blogs that I otherwise enjoy looking at is one "before" photo and one "after" photo and nothing in between and no explanation of how one go from A to Z! I'm all for looking at pretty pictures but I also want to know HOW TO DO STUFF. Sometimes the pictorials or even just a verbal description of what happened and how it happened are in short supply. So thanks for taking he time to put up your blog entry on the construction of yoru screened-in porch. It's beautiful.

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