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Sweet Escape: Oh to be Bill Gates

by | Jun 6, 2008 | Authentic Living, Sweet Escape | 47 comments

Sweet Escape: Oh to be Bill Gates

Do you think Bill Gates’ kids ever say, “I’m BOORREDD!”?

What if we had money like Bill Gates? I shudder to imagine what life might be like. Would it be good or would we get bored even with the excess?

It is Friday night and I’m off to find something for my son to do because he doesn’t have a rocket in his backyard. In fact, we have nothing but a debris filled crumbling old patio, a moss covered rock wall, empty planters and a patio table that really needs to be cleaned before summer officially begins…

What? You want to see my patio? You want a good laugh on a Friday night? Ok. I’ll show you. It has a lot of potential, if you can see past the rubble. But I have no immediate plans to do anything more than throw some grass seed out in the dirt. Maybe.

Sweet Escape: Oh to be Bill Gates

Above you can see the patio. The slate is coming off. Lovely. When we moved in there was more slate, but every summer we pick up maybe 25 new loose stones and this is what we are left with. A unique cement patio.

Sweet Escape: Oh to be Bill Gates

Here you can see my son eating his Happy Meal but if you look behind him, you can see my secret shame (as my son would say). Really, I don’t care. So I have weeds and no lawn. Now you all know the truth. Good thing people do hire me to work on their outdoor rooms (I’ll show you one in progress next week!), otherwise you’d all wonder about me and what kind of business I must have. Actually, maybe no one will ever hire me again now that I’ve revealed our secret garden. It is risky having a blog, but I’m all about full disclosure.

If you want to know the real truth about why our backyard is in dire need of some updating and after four years of living in this house it is not beautifully landscaped…you can check out my story at CWO this month. Here is a sneak preview:

In our home, the month of June brings visions of outdoor family fun. Through the years our kids would high five each other on the last day of school as we anticipated the lazy days of summer ahead. Sometime around Father’s Day my husband would put on his manly apron and fire up the backyard barbecue. The burgers would start flying and the pink lemonade would begin flowing through our multi-colored straws. Life was good. At least that is how summer started out.

We really did dream of lazy summer days, but I have to confess many of our summers turned into what we not so affectionately called “project vacations.” In other words, we did yard work.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE! And while you are there, check out my friend “reluctant entertainer” Sandy’s article! She’ll be there all summer!



photos: Melissa Michaels

HAPPY WEEKEND TO YOU ALL! I hope you have big plans for fun, relaxation and enjoying life!


  1. Chris

    I gotta be honest, Melissa. I NEEDED to see that. You have weeds, and you have slate coming up off your patio. Welcome to my reality. It certainly doesn’t make me think less of you; it just serves as a reminder that you are human too! Thank you!

  2. Emily

    Girl, your embarrassing patio is more fabulous than anything I could ever dream up for myself and way way more chic than the brand spanking new one I just put in. Everything you do is classy – even your weeds.

  3. kara

    Ha!!! We had 4″ of rain on Tues night AND our side yard had 10″ of water in it…………………………………….there is debris everywhere from the farmer’s field—it drained fast BUT now the grass has a muddy look and needs another LIGHT rain to wash it off. Sigh, not really a big deal, just annoying! So in regards to your above post don’t worry it takes a lot of effort in just cleaning, cooking and taking care of our children. Besides people are the most important…..if I was to “pop” in to see you I would be excited just to sit and chat— forget about the yard, I wouldn’t even notice….!!!! {Plus you’re getting ready for a wedding, remember!}

  4. Melissa

    You guys are great! I have even more horrid snapshots from around my house and if it inspires you, I’ll show ’em sometime. You’ll love my Brady bunch shower! :-) Yep. I’ve got some issues. Thanks for making me feel better about them!

  5. CC

    Melissa, I love that you are REAL!!!! Thank you for sharing your “secret patio” with all of us. Honestly, it’s not as bad as you think….Actually, I think it’s got great character!!!

  6. julia

    hmmm all i see is blessed and real! a rocket.. no thanks,sitting on the patio with my son eating a happy meal… priceless
    BG aint got nothin on you Melissa :))
    you are a love…
    xo julia

  7. cybill

    I wish my patio looked as good as that!

  8. Virginia

    Melissa, you have put MY anxious planning to rest. It’s so much more than looks. We need to have joy in that backyard with whomever are our guests. Our own family or our neighbor. Thank you for being so transparent. I won’t care so much now if I miss pulling a weed…or two!

  9. Janet

    Oh, Melissa! All I can say is thank goodness I’m not alone! Our yard has been a work-in-progress for oh, I dunno… twelve years?? (With twenty more to go, I’m sure!) And in my gardens, the weeds have decided it would be fun to start growing their own weeds.

    Secret shame… it’s so fun to share!!

  10. Pat

    Well Melissa, I just have to say, I love that shot of your patio, crumbling slate and all! Just simply love it!

    And look at that sweet kid, sitting there pondering that burger! Who could ask for anything more. He is so cute!

    Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

  11. Laura Ingalls Gunn

    Gasp! Melissa is a REAL woman? Well thank the good Lord for that! You gave me a big smile. And… a little less guilt for the tornado alley known as my childrens rooms, the unpainted shutters, dusty furniture…….


    Maybe we should all take pictures of our back yards and send them to you. I have felt this same way too many times to count and then realize how I grew up, one step above dirt poor. But I had such a great childhood because my Mother taught us to be creative and use our imaginations. I am still using that imagination and creativity today in my home and job and it is what sets me apart from the rest. I am a professional at making something out of nothing. I don’t wish to be wealthy, just comfortable and still creative. Hang in there girl, your light shines so bright that sometimes ya just need a re-charge.
    Love ya, Heidi

  13. Vee~A Haven for Vee

    Melissa, you’re a wonderful “real” woman. I have my own secrets as we all do. The potential in your outdoor area is off the charts…hope that heaven’s gates open and you find the solutions and the time to pull them off when you’re ready.

    Have a great weekend!

  14. Aubrey

    At least you have a patio–I think it doesn’t look too bad. You could do like I do and label it vintage. Somehow that seems to make the worn out, outdated stuff in and around my house more acceptable. Yes, I my imagination is over-active.

  15. Beverly

    We all have to keep it real. Don’t be so hard on yourself, it’s much better than you think. And, we all have to keep our priorities in order. One day it will be time.

    Actually, I would like a good-looking guy like that to have a burger with me any time.

    You always bring a smile to my face, and a smile is a good thing.

  16. Melissa

    I am SO happy to have come to this place in life where I can be just fine with a crumbling patio and a dirt yard. I feel blessed just to have a yard and a son to eat hamburgers with me in any setting. I too have an overactive imagination and I imagine it to be lovely. And that it is, when I focus on blessings and being content right where I am in life!

  17. teresa

    Okay so I’m just smiling here :} – I love the “state” of your backyard- reminds me of some of the places I took pictures of in France- { lamp post, lush green, moss, and broken slate.} Just perfect in my mind- just some red geraniums and it’s ready to go.

  18. Lisa

    Oh, thank you so much for sharing this! You are just like the rest of us! I love your patio area – even the way it is now and can imagine how gorgeous it will be someday. We are in the middle of redoing front and back yards and all of it looks pretty sad right now. But we shouldn’t let that stop us from enjoying & imagining!

    Also, can I say that I love that your son was having a Happy Meal? Another good “real” moment!!

  19. Holly

    OK, first of all, good for you for posting this!!!! I am always hesitant to photograph anything that doesnt look perfect, but where is the reality in that??!! And I must say, that patio has fabulous potential!!! It looks like such a cozy and inviting space and I know that you will make it look spectacular! xo!

  20. pam

    So does the work ever end???? We have lived in this house now for three years and it seems that is all I do is work, work and work. But I figure some day down the road this place will be a place I will enjoy sitting outside and not thinking boy I need to go pull weeds, plant grass seed over there and there, drag the water hose around, etc… Hope you get to enjoy your summer. (smile)

  21. Darla

    FUNNY! I did a post about my not-so-great grass too. LOL!

  22. kristeen

    wishing – wished and more wishing to have such a patio myself! Can’t wait to get our house built and landscape with my dream patio that will have the look of stone but be stamped concrete and colored… I will show it off once it’s in the works – most likely next summer! :(

  23. Tara

    You know what? A house always needs something done and truly, I just get tired of it! Put your feet up on that table and just stare at the green moss thinking what a wonder moss really is!!

  24. Christi from Charm & Grace

    Oh, Melissa, you are TPFW (that’s too precious for words in either 80’s preppy or 00’s text… take your pick.) Seriously, I am so glad to see that you are actually human and not some sort of super hero type woman! I have almost an acre of a backyard that is seriously in danger of having no grass at all due to weeds. My hubby and sons mow it, but that’s as far as it gets. Speaking of sons, yours is adorable!! Thank you for baring your soul to us and making us all collectively sigh with relief that you might be human like we are!

    Love and grins,

  25. Jrizzo

    I like your patio! It has character. It is so much better than my tilting wood deck!!!! I love how you accesorized it too; it really looks quite grand in the pictures. Jen R

  26. Rachael

    Its real, I like it! Rachael

  27. Becky K.

    …and it is still charming!
    However, your most important “work” is eating that hamburger and he is awesome!

  28. Lynn

    Melissa, I think your patio is so very, very cool! Maybe it’s a little dusty, but wow you are right about potential. I am all into weeds being just as fabulous as flowers anyway, so to me your patio is like a princess in a tattered but beautiful dress. Who knows where she’s been?? :)

    So glad to have found your blog. Very inspiring!


  29. Marie

    Thank GOD you are human. (ha ha ha)I love that patio. LOVE it.

  30. JO

    LOL I cant help but get a chuckle out of all these comments…I was beginning to think I was the only person who thought you were super woman!!



  31. Terri Steffes

    Tee hee! Hey, you are eating dinner outside… what more do you want? :) I love it. I posted a little tiny picture (upper right hand corner) of my outdoor eating area… I am working on making it a lovely place to eat out, but our favorite place to eat is in front of a movie!

  32. Polly

    Oh, I’ve got the same kind of not glamorous spaces!! And I even have had the same mouse issue. Isn’t that horrid?! AND I have a picture of myself with undies on my head! I’d like to blame all our messes on the kids but it’s my stuff that never gets put away. All the sewing, crafting, taking pictures… the dinning room table is rarely used for eating anymore. Ugh – gotta work on that!! And by the way, I think your patio is absolutely charming! I love it!! Blessings (&hugs)… Polly

  33. Sweet Cottage Dreams

    You have a lovely backyard and the “rubble” looks pretty good to me. Just maybe add some color in pots here and there. Otherwise, I think it looks like a wonderful place to eat a Happy Meal. :)


  34. Marianne

    I think your patio is actually really charming! Thanks for sharing, I really enjoy your blog.

  35. Neutral Dwelling

    Just letting you know that you have been tagged! Please visit me if you would like to play along :)

  36. Rhoda

    Oh, we have those flaws we hate about our houses. My outdoor is a work in progress for sure. Your’s is actually very charming & a lot more exciting than most backyard patios. Just needs a little TLC, that’s all! I’ve been working diligently on my patio this month and am making a ton of progress. It’s nice to finally be able to eat out there now. I’m sharing pics soon too!


  37. Sandy

    I actually love your little garden area Melissa! Who cares about the dirt – I can imagine a quaint little meal served around that table. LOL!

    I threw a huge party for Paul after his NMCNG book came out. We had just moved in – and looking back at the pix, our yard didn’t look so good. I’ll be doing a post on that party later this month.

    It’s all about what happens w/our families and friends, right?

    Great Father’s Day post too!!!!! xo sandy

  38. Jill

    I think your patio is fabulous! I can certainly see it’s potential, but even as it is I like it. I love slate! I love moss-covered walls! I also love the word “terrace” and that’s what it looks like to me.

  39. Lorrie

    Learning to live with less perfection is a great reminder for all of us. Your article was great. And I think your patio looks charming, broken slate and all. Very French.

    I’m hoping to get your menu boards in the mail this week – it’s been a little wild around here lately but the traveling daughter leaves this afternoon and then things will slow down a bit.


  40. Melissa

    Hey girls! I’m actually sitting outside right now with my laptop! The sun is shining, Winston is laying out soaking in the rays, my son is out riding his bike with his dad and life is good. Weeds and all. xoxox

  41. Design for Mankind

    HA. You are such a dear, Melissa. We don’t care that you have weeds— it just makes you normal! :)

    And wowza, you should see MY sideyard. ;)

  42. Catherine

    It’s beautiful anyway. I love it and I’m sure your son loves the time you’re spending with him. What a great mom!

  43. Trina

    I love this post….Thanks for keeping it real and encouraging everyone to just keep things real… and great CWO article! I have a few projects planned this summer but if they don’t get done, oh well!

  44. Penny

    I actually envy you that patio! It has the moss covered look I am trying to acheive by staining my concrete pavers…..


    Ha, this is so funny! I’m sure we all have places in our houses that we wouldn’t want anyone to notice. Mine is the laundry room, sometimes I just shut the door and hope that the laundry fair comes bye. So far no luck!

  46. M&Co

    You know your moss covered rock wall is perfect! I’m actually trying to get moss on my rock walls…but ofcourse when you want it, it sure want thrive there ;-) And I adore those old stone finials on your rock wall! Perfect patina :-) And I loove your weeds, thank god I’m not the only one!!! ;-)

  47. abbreviated

    Love those moss covered rock walls.


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