Happy Cinco de Mayo! One of you lucky readers has another reason to celebrate today as the winner of the Rustic Giveaway... check the Rafflecopter widget to see if it's you!

Speaking of celebrations, we had a big one this weekend—our Housewarming party. If you've been following me on instagram, you may have caught my post right before the festivities went down...

Everyone seemed to have a great time and the kitchen performed like a champ. It's built to entertain—we love that it's able to easily accommodate large crowds (over the course of two days) and come out of it unscathed and ready for more. I predict lots of summer gatherings and holiday parties this year!

If you're wondering about that deck photo, I'm here to explain. We've been making some improvements to the backyard over the past few months which I haven't covered yet. Unfortunately I don't have a proper before picture, but here's one from when we were house hunting. This was basically the extent of the view...

On the left were trees that blocked most of the mountains on that side. I wasn't able to take a pic before Brad started cutting them down—here's a mid progress shot after he had cleared out a few:

Here's the man in action:

The freshly dropped foliage caught the attention of our deer friends.

There's a trail that runs through our backyard and we often see them running around and playing back there (the babies are adorable!)

Brad did as much as he could by himself, but tree cutting isn't his specialty so we ended up calling in pros to finish the job. There was one tree directly in front of our master bedroom window that was really close to the house. Here's the view from my studio where you can see it blocking the left side:

I actually captured it coming down—you can check out the video here.

And now the view from the studio window looks like this:

Much better.

It's a huge difference in our bedroom. The tree was blocking the majority of the view before:

and now it's wide open...

Now that the trees were out of the way, we were able to see the backyard of our house for the first time. I don't think I've ever shared much of the backyard, so let's start with the deck. Here's the main deck off of the living room, taken from the lower deck:

And here's the lower deck, as seen from the ground:

I took some photos of the back of the house but they got deleted, so here's the one I have from my phone a few months back when we were doing a burn pile:

That day was the first time we'd ever seen the back of the house in it's entirety after the trees were removed. If you're curious about the layout—to the far left is the living room, the next window over is my studio, then the guest room, and the window on the right is our bedroom. The lower levels are the main downstairs room.

Now that the view was opened up, it was time to focus on our outdoor living space. I spotted the Ikea Arholma set and noticed that it was 25% off with the Ikea family member card, and I was sold. It was exactly what I had pictured and already a very inexpensive alternative to similar sets. So that weekend we took a little road trip to Sacramento, and just a few days later we were relaxing in it.

We also picked up this 9x12" outdoor rug from Overstock.

I love how versatile the pieces are...

There's endless possibilities for different layouts.

They're quite comfortable, too.

I just realized I forgot to take a photo of this, but Brad wired up our flat screen TV next to the living room windows (we had it outside under our open patio in Florida), so we've been watching movies at night and playing concerts/music when guests are over.

The weather has been perfectly lately, so whenever we have guests, the deck is the favorite hangout spot.

Here's a shot from the living room looking out...

Yes, we finally have curtains! There's actually been several updates in the living room which I'll be sharing on Thursday. But for now I'd better get back to catching up on work (and recovering from this weekend...) Enjoy your week!


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