You may or may not have noticed that I took a while to respond to comments on my blog last week. That’s because I was out west visiting my mom. If you’ve followed me for long, then you may know that my mom lives out near Las Vegas (she’s in the suburb of Henderson).
My mom turned 80 last year. I had always thought we’d do something amazing for her 80th. After all, we took her on a cruise for her 70th, so we had to top that.
But then there was COVID.
I didn’t even think going out there to see her would be a good idea, let alone going on some kind of trip together. So her 80th birthday came and went with nothing more than a phone call between us.
Some of you also know that my mom was a travel agent who specialized in cruises. She was still working at 79. Not full time, but she had her regular clients and she would still go in to the office and set up trips for them (myself included). But again, then there was COVID. Obviously, the travel industry was hit hard, and one of the segments hit the hardest was cruising (for obvious reasons). So after helping all of her clients with canceled cruises and making sure they got refunds (myself included), she decided to officially retire late last year.
At the end of 2020, my mom also sold her big house (it was 4 bedrooms, 3 baths) and moved into a much smaller townhome. The house was too much for her to handle, and although my brother is there to help her, it made sense to move into something a bit more reasonable. Again, I really wanted to go out there and help her with the move, but then there were all of those COVID surges right after the holidays.
More recently, my mom has had some health issues and I realized that I could no longer let COVID stop me from flying out to spend some time with her. My sister was planning to go with or without me, so last week I masked up, hopped on a plane and few out to Vegas.
Because my mom has been feeling so poorly, she hasn’t really done much with her new place. Her townhome is accessed through a small courtyard …
and quite honestly, it was looking a bit sad when we got there.
There were some tired old patio chairs, a cast off kitchen chair and some empty planters. It definitely needed some help.
So we piled my mom into the car and headed off to her local Lowes, which was literally just around the corner. We picked out a fun bistro set and had my mom pick out some plants to fill the empty pots. We also grabbed some solar lights on our way out.
Mom has always been a big fan of bougainvillea, so that was an obvious choice. I don’t know much about gardening in the desert climate of her area, so I hope we made some good choices with the other plants as well.
In the end, it was really lucky that the Lowes was just around the corner. The box that the bistro set came in was so huge that we had to put the back seat down to fit it in Mom’s SUV. That meant we had to leave someone behind, go home and unload the box, then turn around and go back for them. Fortunately, this was in the same shopping center …
I was more than happy to spend a little time checking out their local Goodwill while my mom and sister unloaded the car.
I have to say, it’s kind of amazing how a Goodwill looks pretty much the same no matter where you go. Sadly I didn’t find a single thing that I just had to make room in my suitcase for.
Anyway, once we returned back to the house again, my sister tackled assembling the bistro set and I set to work filling up the pots.
That variegated cactus looking thing went in a pot that is out front beside her gate.
Honestly, I don’t know what that plant is, but it looks like something that can survive the occasional lack of watering. Since this planter is outside the gate (and my mom will access the courtyard through her garage instead), I suspect that my mom may forget to water it on a regular basis, so I wanted something that would have a better chance of surviving a few droughts.
For the remaining planters, I emptied out the old, worn out dirt and refilled them with some Miracle Grow potting soil. This way Mom won’t have to worry about feeding them for about six months. Then I planted them up with the rest of the plants.
The tall skinny planters got some bright pink geraniums and some sedum that I hope will spill over the sides.
The larger pot was planted with the bougainvillea, some bright yellow ornamental grass and some more sedum. This is the same sedum that I grew in my window box last summer and it did really well for me. Hopefully it will do as well in my mom’s pots.
I sure was wishing I had some of my Dixie Belle products on hand! This pot would have been the perfect candidate for some rusty patina.
By the time I had everything planted, my sister was working on the final touches to the bistro set. Have I ever mentioned how much I dislike assembling things that come in a box? Yeah, it’s not my cup of tea. But my sister is good at it.
Fortunately, the chairs came fully assembled.
And aren’t they fab? They totally look straight out of a Parisian bistro.
My sister just had to put the legs on the table, and that was touch and go.
If I’d had access to my full compliment of painting supplies and a little more time, I would have totally preferred to make over a vintage set of some kind. After working with this set (which cost $248, check it out here), I was reminded of what I love about refurbishing vintage pieces rather than buying new. This new stuff is super flimsy, way over priced, and a huge pain to assemble.
The solar lights went alongside the sidewalk leading from the gate up to the courtyard.
As a final touch, we found a cute lantern at Target for $10 and added a faux candle with a timer and placed that on the table.
Now this is the perfect spot to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, maybe even one drunk out of my mom’s wedding china.
To be quite honest, I don’t think my mom will actually spend much time sitting in her courtyard (and she doesn’t actually drink coffee). She and I could not be any more different in that regard. I would eat every meal out there, and spend a little bit of time every evening sitting there with a glass of wine (she doesn’t drink that either) and listening to the birds in the huge tree that is nearby. But my mom isn’t really a ‘sitting outside’ sort of person.
But I couldn’t stand thinking of her being greeted by that sad old kitchen chair every time she returned home from somewhere. Now she has a cheery spot with bright flowers and a little European flair to greet her instead.
Hopefully every time she passes through here on her way into her home she will not only be reminded of her many travels to Europe, but also of my sister and me even though we can’t be there with her on a regular basis.