A Place in the Sun

by Marlene Alexander

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In the springtime, this older woman's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of stepping-stones and other outdoor paraphernalia. According to the powers that be, we no longer have mere balconies or decks or patios, we have outdoor "rooms." The aim is to carry on your indoor decorating style outdoors. It's an appealing idea but a bit daunting to those of us with no money in the kitty to replace the green plastic table and chairs with wrought iron patio furniture.

Still, all is not lost. With a few dollars and a smidgen of creativity, you can make your balcony/deck/patio an inviting place to entertain or simply while away sunny hours watching the birds and squirrels. If, like me, your favourite place in the sun gets too hot to handle at a certain time of day, this might work for you, as well. Beach mat "blinds" are super easy to install and, at a buck a piece, hard to beat for price. Simply use garden-variety tacks (also available at dollar stores) to nail your mat to the wood on the inside of the patio overhang. Make sure that the tacks go through the coloured trim, or you might get some shredding and ensure that the end with the tie goes at the top. When you are finished using your "blinds," simply roll them up and fasten them with the attached strings. If, like me, you find the ties on these mats a tad skimpy, buy some decorative tassel ties (four for a dollar in the craft section). Shoelaces would do just as well. It's always a good idea to keep your makeshift blinds rolled up when not in use to protect them from inclement weather, playful pets and creatures that may come prowling at night.

How Does Your Garden Glow?

If you like the backyard nightlife, you don't want to be sitting out there in the dark. Or, maybe you do but we're not concerned with that here. For those of us who enjoy listening to the crickets but don't want to have to rely on our neighbour's porch light to keep us from tripping over the garden hose, here are a few finds to light your way, keep the bugs at bay and entertain with style.

A 6" glass lantern can be set on a table or hung by its handle to provide some illumination on a deck or patio. It costs two bucks with the candle. A few of these hung around the yard would add much to the ambience for entertaining. Or add a pair of votive candleholders (two for a dollar) to your outdoor table setting. The citronella votive candles were 4 for $1.

To keep mosquitoes from crashing your outdoor gatherings, dollar stores have a variety of solutions from citronella tea lights to citronella oil for garden torches to citronella on a stick.

I hate to sound like your mother, but feel compelled to leave you with these final words: Never leave a burning candle alone and please insure that they don't come in contact with anything likely to melt or otherwise go up in smoke. We don't want to barbecue anything but the weenies.

Marlene Alexander is a writer living in Ontario, Canada. For more on dollar store shopping, visit her website at DollarStoreStyle.com.

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