March 31, 2010

Garden? What Garden?


Exactly!  We have a lot to do.  Here, let me take you on a tour of our gorgeous yard!

This whole post is the BEFORE picture for our backyard :) 

After we moved in last summer, we spent the remaining sunny months pulling weeds and raking up bark mulch.  We also pulled out a “Charlie Brown tree” (half dead, right up the middle) and a HUGE pine that was looking pretty sad.  Then we planted two new trees.  In fact, look what we pulled out of the holes we dug for the new trees:

IMG_1514All those rocks came from under our lawn.  How do you like dem apples rocks?  Digging those holes was a chore like none Hubby or I had ever seen.   We later realized it was partly due to very clayey soil (and of course the embedded boulders the shovel hit every.single.time didn’t help either).  We have a compost bin now and hopefully I’ll be able to amend the soil with every plant I plant, to try to combat that awful clay.  Deeper holes….well….those will just be really unpleasant, because I know more huge rocks will be waiting for me.  Hopefully there won’t be too many more deep holes.

First, we’ll start at the gate.  Our fireplace contractors did a great job inside.  But, a few weeks after they left, we noticed the mess they left OUTSIDE.

Splashes of mortar and various forms of plaster/concrete/mortar here and there on the siding and on the ground:


All in all, not a big deal.  Our mulch and rocks need some serious sorting, so I guess I’ll pick up all the white stuff and sweep the flagstone at the same time.  And trim that evergreen bush.   Clearly, he needs to be shown the meaning of PERSONAL SPACE!

Onward, through the gate.


This was a weed garden.  Now it’s an empty garden with a few weeds and a scraggly rose bush.  Yes, despite the fact that the bulbs are just BARELY blooming, we are seeing weeds all over the frigging yard.  I have some plants on their way for this space, and I’ll probably put down weed barrier too (another layer if there’s one already there, which I’m not sure about).

IMG_1509 IMG_1510

More weeds.  UGH!

This picture is the other half of the former weed garden.  It’s mostly just bare right now, thank goodness.  You can also see our lovely rotting deck skirting, which needs to get fixed ASAP so I can plant here without my plants later being trampled.  I think we’ll need to take the railing off the deck in order to back out the screws holding the deck planks to the skirt boards.  Hubby might have mentioned that he was going to figure out the game plan for the deck repairs this weekend….?



Next, we have the VAST expanse of “bark gardens.”  All the dirt you see in the next several pictures used to be covered by bark mulch.  (Now it’s more like 1/3 covered by bark that still needs raking or tilling under.)  It was disgusting.  You couldn’t walk across the bark without seeing SEVERAL hobo spiders scurrying around. 

It also became a haven for the sharp, nasty weeds which require leather gloves to pull.  The stickers on those go right through canvas gardening gloves.  Oh, and  I can’t forget the SLUGS, which I used to think were cute….not anymore! This area was basically a nightmare last summer and fall.  I never had a problem wearing flip flops in the garden, until BARK became my garden.  (What’s the point of having huge all-mulch-no-plants areas anyway??)IMG_1516


That dirt pile in the back corner is one of two.  We ordered “good dirt” when we planted our trees and Hubby wasn’t given a good estimate of just how much one cubic yard was.  I think he ordered a few cubic yards…..and It was too much.  (waaay too much!)  But I will have several potted plants outside too, so I keep telling him some of the pile will be used for those.  We’ll see if it makes a dent ;)


A nice long pile of bark that still needs to be addressed.  Last year, we filled our city’s yard waste bin every week with the stuff.  This year, I might be able to put some in the compost bin and maybe till the rest under to help amend the soil.


And now for the vegetable garden!  This was also a weed garden last summer.  Who plants plants or bothers to pull weeds when they’re selling their house?  Now it’s full of weird little feathery weeds that I’ve never seen before.  And some mangled tomato cages.  I need to get out here and deal with these pests.  I think some weed fabric might come into play to cover the dirt until I can get it planted.  The thought of pulling weeds before any real plants are awake just….. pushes my buttons!IMG_1521

And the extremely effective irrigation system:


We don’t know why it’s not connected.  It’s on the to-do list to get it in working order.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you a tour of our front yard :)  (It’s much better.)

Plans for this space will progress with the summer.  They include (another list, I know): 

  1. Fixing the deck, pronto.  The sooner I can plant legitimate plants around the deck, the fewer weeds I’ll have to deal with.
  2. Moving the edging to eliminate the side “bark gardens”.  This will leave the back area as well as the planting area around the deck available for flower/veggie gardens.
  3. Along with moving the edging, trying to coax the grass to fill in on the sides.  Hopefully the lawn treatment we hope will make our yard nice and green and weed-free, will also help the grass to spread out.
  4. Fix the irrigation system and get a veggie garden a’growin!
  5. Plant, plant, plant!  Lots of perennials, hopefully a lilac bush somewhere (love lilacs!) and maybe even a fast growing groundcover like alyssum or something to try to keep the weeds crowded out.  (Any recommendations?  We’re in zone 5)
  6. Add weed barrier everywhere I can.  The weeds are unbelievable, and I know Round Up works great, but I really don’t want to have to use it on a daily basis, ya know? (and holy buckets it’s also expensive!)
  7. Figure out what in the heck to do with the rock pile.


Any ideas?  Comments?  Anyone dealt with any of these issues before and have some wisdom to share?

Also – I’ve heard layering newspaper  on the ground, and covering that with compost or other mulch (grass clippings?) works well for weed control.  Has anyone tried this?  I know I can’t use our grass clippings as mulch in the veggie garden (due to the lawn chemicals) but could they be used in the flower garden?

Comments are welcome :)

March 30, 2010

Peninsula Treatment Reveal

We finally got the peninsula done!

After I showed you how I tore off the trim and baseboards here,

there really wasn’t much to it, so we’ll just get to the before and after!


beadboard would look cool...





‘Course, it’s still missing the baseboards, but we decided not to put the trim back up around the top edge, since it would have to be cut for each corbel, and that just might look funny.


My mom actually suggested those corbels while we were shopping at Hobby Lobby one day, and what a great suggestion it was! They are perfect, and they are just the style we’re going for :)

All in all, we spent $20 on the beadboard and $5 + $5 + $6 on the corbels = $36

(My mom told me yesterday that she saw the before picture and was like "What? It looks fine! What do you need to do to it?" .....and THEN she saw the after picture and decided the before picture really was kind of boring and ugly! Hi Mom!)

Now for the floor and painting the cabinets! Whoo hoo! Dontcha love progress?

I'm linking up to:

Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest

Before and After Party at Thrifty Decor Chick


Head on over to check out all the cool projects! :)

March 29, 2010

A Pretty Ceiling

Happy Monday everyone!

We got a LOT done this weekend! 

Even though my dining room ceiling isn’t completely finished, I’ll show you where we’re at, because it looks so pretty now (even without being done.)

First, hubby painted the center of the ceiling with the same Dover White flat paint we used on the kitchen ceiling.


Then, we painted the walls green and brought the wall color up onto the ceiling 12 inches all the way around.




This weekend, we filled in the 12” white stripe with an ever-so-slightly-darker shade of green.  (I used the tape-sealing technique I showed you here, to get nice clean lines.)



Isn’t it pretty???  I love it!  (But remember, it’s not quite done yet!!!) 


Hope you have a great start to your week :)

March 26, 2010

Peninsula Treatment: Part I


I keep talking about the “peninsula treatment” that I need to get done.  Well, here we go!

So here’s where we started:

beadboard would look cool...It needs something, right?  (Ok, it needs a LOT.)

After our laundry room redo, I decided I’d put bead board paneling on the peninsula too.  Plus, we’d someday like to put some barstools here, and I think bead board paneling would be much more durable against dangling feet than would drywall.

Even though I didn’t take off the trim when we did bead board in the laundry room, I will have to take it off this time.  See that piece of trim around the top of the peninsula?  It has to come down temporarily.  And since the new laminate flooring installation (in a couple weeks) needs the baseboards off anyway, I might as well take them off now and do bead board all the way to the floor.

Have you ever pulled baseboards or trim off?  Well, if not…..this is for you! 

Start by using a razor to cut through the caulk:

IMG_1468 IMG_1470

Then get a pry-bar and find a good place to wedge it in.  I did it at the end of the trim because I just hate damaging drywall (even though it’ll be covered up, I know I know.)  Then work your way down the board.

IMG_1471 IMG_1472

You will probably need to slice through caulk as you go, because it will pull your paint and drywall off the wall if you don’t. 

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It looks pretty bad when you finally get the trim off:


And look what else I found:


I just about jumped out of my skin when I saw it.  I thought they were bugs.

Whatever it is, it’s not bugs.  I think it’s some kind of filler or cushion between the countertop and the drywall.  Looks gross though, huh?

We’ve also been experiencing this problem quite a bit as we take off baseboards:


The drywall crumbles away from the metal corner pieces.  Luckily, in this case it’ll be covered up by bead board, but we do have a few other places where the drywall has crumbled off the corners ABOVE where the baseboards would hide it.  Here it is with the baseboards off:


Now we’re ready for tomorrow’s bead board action! 


March 25, 2010

Perfect Paint Lines

Waaaaay back during my Laundry Room saga, I promised to show you how to do perfectly clean paint lines.  This is actually a trick my husband found online one day and shared with me, and it works perfectly!  A lot of you probably already know this, but just in case you didn’t……

I’m going to start with a Step Zero, because of how we painted the laundry room.  I sealed off the laundry room wall edges with the trim paint I already had out (white).  I knew we’d be painting the kitchen, so digging around for the kitchen’s yellow paint was just too much to ask.  So we ended up with the skinniest of skinny white lines on the corners.


So, Step Zero was quickly covering those up:


Ok, now for Step 1

First, tape off your line like usual.  Here we’re going to paint the kitchen green, so I’m taping off the darker color of the laundry room.  (Disregard the splotch of green there on the wall.  It’s from me messing with the paint samples.)


Now get out the paint of the color UNDER the tape.  (In this case, the dark color which I already had out from Step Zero.)

 IMG_1382 IMG_1383

Paint over the edge of your tape with that color.


Let it dry.   Now paint your wall just like usual.  I was too excited to pull off my tape, so I forgot to take a picture of this step.  Hopefully it’s not necessary :)


Pull the tape off and admire your perfect line! 


By sealing the tape with the color you’re protecting, you’re avoiding those annoying little instances where the new color seeps under the tape.  (The paint still seeps under, but since it’s the old color, it doesn’t matter!)

Hope this was a helpful tip :)

Happy Thursday!  (ALMOST FRIDAY!)

March 24, 2010

Wanted: Dishwasher Advice


IMG_1458  Lovely Readers, meet the Dishwasher.  Dishwasher, meet the Lovely Readers.

Yes, that’s a Rubbermaid bowl sitting there.  Holiday themed, with a whimsical and festive holly and ornament design encircling it! 

No less than the best for you all :)

The bowl catches the water that leaks when we run the dishwasher.  The dishwasher doesn’t leak every time we run it, but after most cycles, we’ll have an inch or two of water to dump out of the bowl.  (It started leaking on Christmas Day, of course.)

I called an appliance repair place a couple of months ago to find out what it might cost to have it fixed.  $60 for the house-call.  Then up to $300 to fix the seal, depending on how bad it is.  The lady on the phone said our dishwasher (original to the house, so ~12 years old) would be cheaper to replace, as the lifespan is (apparently) only 12-15 years for that model anyway (it is a rental grade model).  Nice lady.  I think she was hoping we’d buy our new dishwasher from them. 

We decided to think about it, and we rigged up the bowl to catch the leaks in the meantime.

I had no idea how loud dishwashers are when the bottom insulation panel is removed!  It ROARS!

Ok, maybe “roars” is an exaggeration, but it is really loud.  And after noticing that we were routinely soaking/scrubbing dishes that had just come OUT of the dishwasher, we realized it’s just time to replace it.  Our floors will be getting replaced in the next few weeks as well, so it works out nicely.

Now for finding the new one! 

I looked at two today, a Maytag and a GE. 

They both had these features:

  1. Black/stainless combo
  2. Energy Star
  3. The cool multi jets so the bottom one doesn’t pop up through the lower rack
  4. Multiple wash cycles (all the usual ones)
  5. 57 or 58 decibels
  6. Hard food disposer


OPTION #1:  The GE CleanSteel “Tall Tub Built-In Dishwasher”


Features the Maytag doesn’t have: 

  1. Steam Pre-Wash
  2. Super deep upper rack (actually didn’t look at the Maytag’s upper rack…)
  3. Delay start option
  4. $449


OPTION #2:  Maytag 24 inch Built In Dishwasher


Features the GE doesn’t have: 

  1. Stainless interior
  2. Heated dry option
  3. Crystal/china cycle
  4. $599


Additional considerations:

  • HD installation is $120 (plus $6 if we go with the Maytag)
  • Lowe’s installation is $129 (probably plus $6 for the Maytag too but not sure)
  • We have a $25 coupon if we buy it at Lowe’s
  • OK, everybody.  Now I need your input. What do you think of “steam cycles” ?  What do you think of stainless versus non-stainless interiors?  Do you think the Maytag’s features warrant an extra $150 on the price over the GE?

    What do you think of Maytag versus GE?  Are Maytags really as dependable as the Maytag Repairman commercials make them seem?

    (Needless to say, our current dishwasher has ZERO features and is marginally functional anyway, so we’re shooting from the hip here.)

    Let’s hear it from the Peanut Gallery!

    Quick and Easy Spring Centerpiece


    I grabbed a couple of glass items, some moss I found on sale at Wal-Mart for $1 per bag, and some candles that were lying around (the little pillar I took from the candle holder I showed you here).

    I wrapped a piece of ribbon around the pillar candles and wove the same ribbon through a wooden placemat (thanks Brooke – great idea!)

    IMG_1451 I think I need a ribbon strip on each side of center as well. And maybe another touch of ivory. Or just a plain white taper instead of the ivory one.



    Ok, so not particularly creative, but it was EASY. And it looks good enough for now, until I’m motivated to do a better one. All three of those glass items came from Goodwill, so it was also CHEAP. Cheap and easy, that’s my motto (for decorating….!)


    EDIT! More ribbon was added!

    MUCH better.

    Have a great day!

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