Enjoy a Front Porch Summer

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Last summer my husband built us the front porch of our dreams, something I’ve longed for forever.

The front porch evokes a romantic ideal of summer for me, of life before social media, or central air. I’m reminded of the traditional farmhouse porches of Forrest Gump, or the Walton Family, up on Walton’s Mountain (Good Night, Johnboy). The front porch was the place where gossip was exchanged, secrets shared and wisdom imparted.

The allure of the front porch is endless to me. Rocking chairs, a porch swing, brightly colored Adirondack chairs, all of them say “Stop and sit awhile.” A porch can create a sense of community. Just building the porch, I met new neighbors I hadn’t talked to in over a decade in our home. Or, sometimes it’s just a friendly wave, a smile and a nod from the runner jogging by, ear buds in place, but that connection is still made.  My dogs have made countless new friends, as dog walkers stop to let the pooches get acquainted.

If you’re an early riser, the porch is perfect spot for quiet and solitude when the sun comes up on a warm summer morning.  It’s also the ideal time to enjoy a little nature, the smell of fresh cut grass, your beautiful blooms, or the sounds of the birds hiding in the trees.

I have a fountain inside my screen-porch, and the sound of the running water attracts hummingbirds. So I put a hummingbird feeder right out front, where I could watch them hovering, hear the furious buzzing of their wings as they feed. I’ve become familiar with the different chirps and songs of the feeder regulars, the dee-dee-dee of the chickadees, the “pretty, pretty, pretty bird” of Mr. Cardinal, the sweet meows of a gold finch, or the plaintive coo of the mourning dove.

13323305_1424426537583513_8057884246284569945_oNot only does a porch offer an inviting welcome to guests and passers-by, but it also adds curb appeal to a home’s façade. It’s a glimpse of your personality, with a dash of summer flair – cascading ferns, colorful throw cushions, a vintage watering can, bright red Wellies waiting at the door.

I devour book after book on the front porch. Sometimes I’ll coincidentally find an incredible book where the porch itself feels like a character. Such was the case with The Truth According to Us, the second novel from the co-author of the insanely popular book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  Set during the summer of 1938, The Truth According to Us evokes the charm and eccentricity of a small town filled with extraordinary characters, bringing to life an inquisitive young girl, her beloved aunt, and the alluring  visitor who changes the course of their destiny forever.

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If you’re looking for a couple of other great books to read on your porch swing, I suggest Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, which is being made into a film by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Two other fantastic reads are At the Water’s Edge, from Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, or The Nest, a recently released novel about the extremely dysfunctional Plumb family, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

Half of our porch, which extends across the front of our house, is screened in. We have a ceiling fan to create a light breeze when the sultry August air is thick and oppressive. The screened room protects us from being devoured by man-eating Minnesota mosquitoes. It also allows us to enjoy the quiet night sounds, the crickets and frogs, sometimes an owl, or the last little voices of the neighbor kids riding home at dusk.

The chance to play a game of cards with friends, without air-conditioning, television, or mobile devices, is a welcome break from modern life.

 

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Photo from Southern Living magazine

But my FAVORITE thing about a front porch is decorating it for the 4th of July. I’m a devout sentimentalist when it comes to a farmhouse front porch festooned in red, white and blue bunting, garlands, flags in all the flower pots, and the John Philip Souza march playing in the background. Hooray for the red, white and blue!

If you’re looking for some ideas on creating the porch of your dreams, here are a couple more sources for inspiration. HGTV  Country Living  I hope you’ll take some time to disconnect and enjoy some good old summertime, wherever your “happy place” might be.

Smart Perks Blogger, Melanie Bisson is currently in her happy place.

Back-to-School Shopping: It’s not just for kids anymore

 

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Target sells black chalk board tape! Love it. Here it’s used with chalk markers.

It’s Back-to-School Time!!! The most wonderful time of the year!

Yes, I know that this kind of enthusiasm is typically reserved for that OTHER best time of the year, which believe me, I go nuts for, too.

Here I am, a married adult woman. No kids. It’s the middle of August, and I’m giddy like the proverbial school girl.

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August 1982 B-T-S issue of Seventeen – The memories!

I still remember the summer when I was twelve years old, and my mom bought me my first Seventeen magazine. It was the Back-to-School issue, and I was sure all of the mysteries and wonders of being a cool teenage girl were contained inside those smooth and shiny, uncreased pages. Along with my new Seventeen, she handed me a shiny, marbled hard-plastic compact in navy blue, with Bonne Bell printed in silver on the top. I opened it gingerly, and inside, I remember so vividly, were a rainbow of six eye shadows, three lip glosses (in colors!!!) and a blush, with a mirror on the top of course. My first make-up! I think I may have cried a little. Bonne Belle was the Coco Chanel of my childhood.

My tastes have changed a little since then. Instead of Seventeen magazine, now it’s the Fall of issue of Vogue I anxiously wait for, all 500-plus pages of it. One thing that hasn’t changed however, is the thrill I get from school supplies. Fresh notebooks. Clean white, college-ruled pages, in a colorful new three-ring binder. A virgin, fine-tipped pen. A number two pencil sharpened to an exquisite point.

Why should kids get to have all the fun? So I did some school-supply shopping and thought I’d share some of the goodies I found, in hopes that it will inspire you to let your inner kid out to play, and perk up your desk or office.

11885079_1199219460104223_5621247479853338702_nNo plain old Trapper Keepers for this girl. Notebooks and folders are inspired by textiles with bold prints and vibrant colors, with color-coordinated accessories to match. Summer might be over but I want to keep the hot colors and floral prints throughout cool fall months.

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Washi tape is a huge trend that doesn’t show any sign of slowing down any time soon. I use it to customize my file folders and journal. No manila folders for me.

I visited a couple of local paper boutiques and book stores and found some new takes on classic items, mixing humor and technology, with some great retro flair.

11887846_1199218216771014_4565567492953652332_nHey preschoolers! Nana-nana boo-boo! Adult coloring is cool. We’ve got the coloring books to prove it. Who doesn’t want to color the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?

Kids these days! No puffy stickers or scratch n’ sniffs for them. Now it’s all about emojis. But they still use Number Two pencils! 😉

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I like to have a flash drive handy at all times. So Clark Kent is always at the ready on my key chain or in my drawer at work, for those quick Power Points in the conference room.

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I’d like to say I was giving this new paperback version of The Outsiders to one of the teenagers in my family. But I have to admit, I’m rereading this one by S.E. Hinton. I’ve read everything she’s ever written. Maybe I’ll pass it along to cousin Isabelle after I’m done. “Stay gold, Ponyboy!”

And because I’m not a complete scrooge, as long as I was out shopping, I picked up a few things for the neighbor girls, as well as to donate to schools in my neighborhood.

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Check with your local school or businesses to see if they host school-supply drives. I like to think every kid deserves to start the new school year fresh and excited, with a clean slate and endless possibilities, like the blank pages of my brand new Mead notebook.

College-ruled, of course.

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Blogger Mel B, a Smart Perks employee, refuses to grow up and still buys Dr. Pepper-flavored Bonne Bell Lip Smackers.