Entries from February 23rd, 2011

How does your garden grow?



After we bought our Lake House back in November of 2009 the first change was refinishing the beautiful hardwood flooring that existed under the dingy white carpet. You can read about that in The first change and in Fun times in floor refinishing.

Once the winter had passed and we started to come out of hibernation we began to focus our attention on the greater outdoors. First stop, the garden in the back of the house…or should I say the front? Lake houses have peculiar way of the back facing the road (what would usually be considered front) and the front facing the lake.

Our yard slopes downward towards the lake so the key to creating nice areas to plant and relax is in the creation of levels  or rooms within the yard.  The entire plan is for the first level to be the decks and top gardens, the second level include the grassy area, horseshoe pits and vegetable garden, the third level will include steps to a deck surrounding the above ground pool, the fourth and final level will focus on the lake some shade structures and possibly some kind of tiki bar and seating (fingers crossed).

We started by laying out the new first level garden,  cutting in a straight line and removing the grass that was in the area now designated as garden space. Due to the slope of the yard we knew we wanted a raised bed suitable for plants and to make it more visually appealing by breaking up the space.

The idea cornerstone for the raised bed began with a large flat rock that was lying in the garden. It took some elbow grease, a couple of shovels, a pry bar, 2 men and some determination to move into place.

Once all the rocks were in place we had the basis for our raised garden bed and first level of plantings.

With the help of a few trips to the garden store our first garden redo looks like this!

We used the original shrubs that were already there moving the burning bush to the front right corner. We bought some additional Plants to fill in the space.

You can see a breakdown of the plants outlined below.

Plants above: 1. Maiden Grass; 2. Cotoneaster; 3. Azaela; 4. Hostas; 5. Burning Bush; 6. Shrub Roses; 7. Begonias; 8. Geranium; 9. Hydrangea.

Product roundup: Copper outdoor accessories



The use of copper can be traced back some 10,000 years to some of the most ancient civilizations in the world, It has been associated with the mythological goddesses Aphrodite and Venus. So, as spring draws near I’m focusing my attention for the very first product guide on 10 outdoor items with a touch of copper.  Depending on how it’s finished copper can vary from bright and shiny to rough and rustic. But,you can be sure no matter how it’s presented  it’s lustrious beauty will liven up any outdoor space.

Images above: 1. Classic Copper Window Box $198; 2. Copper Bucket $229; 3. Outdoor Copper Firepit $299; 4. Sailboat Weathervane $131; 5. Pisa Copper Oil garden Torches $79.50 for 2: 6. Copper Patio Heater $297; 7. Copper Hose Holder $52.99; 8. Copper Garden Gate $399; 9. Copper Planter $49.99; 10. Copper Wall Clock

* Amazon affiliate links are used within this post
*** I have not necessarily purchase or used any of the above products and do not make any representation as to their quality or to the repubality of the merchants  linked above.

Fun times in floor refinishing



After one heck of a weekend of cutting, rolling hauling and dumping old carpeting  everything was swept and prepped and ready bright and early Monday morning for the floors to be refinished. Yup, it was a tight squeeze but we did it,  with the help of a couple hardworking friends that work for beer and pizza. You can see how we cut, rolled, hauled and dumped here.

Arriving bright and early as promised came a trailer equipped with workers, sanders, stain and hoses for a virtually dust free, fume free, floor sanding experience.

They started by filling  any old holes and deep scratches in the floor with stain-able wood filler, then started sanding the perimeter of the living room. Then they made a couple passes using the large belt sander with first coarse sand paper than a finer version. Their sanders were hooked up to large hoses that fed outside to their trailer where a large vacuum containment system waited to suck most of the dust out of the house.  These guys were serious.

A couple of hours later what once had been  old, dirty white carpeting a mere 2 days earlier had been prepped, filled and sanded to perfectly blond smooth pristine hardwood floors.

This rooms gets TONS of light streaming into it from a combination of southern exposure and two sliding glass doors. We wanted a rich, dramatic and sophisticated look and felt that dark floors would be just perfect. We chose Minwax wood stain in Red Mahogany. One coat of stain was all it took to transform the floors into the rich dark floors  combined with the hint of red is just what we were hoping for.

After waiting a bit for the stain to dry the guys came back with 2 coats of a water based top coat, that dried to a perfect satin finish. We loved the fact that it was water based, fast drying and has less odor than a typical top coat. We especially love how the satin finished turned out. Often, dark floors tend to show dust and scratches more than light floors, the satin finish minimizes the appearance of dust and scratches that accumulate over time . We think they turned out fantastic and totally transformed the living room.

The first change



So we bought a house back in November 2009, since then we’ve been busy updating things around the house. The first big project we tackled was to rip up the old white carpet and have the original hardwood floors refinished underneath.

We were super excited when we discovered hardwood underneath the dingy white carpets during our home inspection. Keeping our fingers crossed that the entire floor once uncovered was in good enough shape to refinish, we began the working on a plan. We felt that having the floors complete before we moved all the furniture upstairs would be the best option due to the inherent mess and dust that comes with that sort of project.

So we began planning our options, first we considered refinishing the hardwood floors ourselves, but after considering the small window in time we wanted them complete and the other various projects , we decided it be best to get some professional quotes. With a professional we could have it done ASAP and move onto anyone of our other planned projects we had…like finding our clothes so we could stop washing and re-wearing the same pair of jeans over and over again.

We called a number of local places to receive quotes, we settled on one contractor that used a “Dust Containment System and a non-toxic finish that would dry in 3-4 hours. We made a deal with the contractor for us to do the labor to pull up the carpets and staples to save on some money  and for $1.50 a square foot or about $1,500 we would have sanded, stained and sealed floors with one day labor a mere 3 days after we closed on our first house! wohoo!

Now came the hard part…actually attempting to paint and pull up the carpeting in the whole house over the weekend before the contractor was set to arrive on MONDAY!

The husband with the help of some dedicated hardworking friends started to pull up the carpeting in the living room, two bedrooms and hallway the day after we closed on our house.

Bryan and friends began by cutting up the old carpet into strips and rolling up the pieces to haul them outside to dump.

Now that all the dingy white carpet had been cut, rolled, hauled and dumped we were left with the carpet tacking strips around the perimeter of all the rooms. Once we got a look at all the tack strips left behind we had some serious reconsidering on how smart it was to do this ourselves. There were THOUSAAANDS of tiny tacks that had to be pulled out by hand not to mention the white powder that lay underneath from the break down of the carpet padding and dirt that works it’s way though the carpet over the years.

The carpet tack strips are pieces of wood about 1 inch wide they are nailed to the floor and have highly-sharp tacks protruding out of them at about a 60 degree angle. The strips are what holds the carpeting down and tight around a room and stops it from wrinkling.

So, after hours and hours of the guys pulling tacks and strips out of the floor (I was exempt from this one since I was 5 months pregnant at the time) they were swept and prepped ready for the floor re-finishers to come and transform them!

Here’s the Before of the living room during our home inspection with the last owner’s furniture and carpeting.

Now here’s the After shot, a few things to move and we’re all ready to rock and roll and refinish.

Good job dear!

Be my valentine



Aren’t these the most adorable handmade valentines you’ve ever seen?

I love how they’re so simple, sweet and made with love. I love the added touch of button trimmings. So fun and clever!

They are the creation of Anne Weil over at flax & twine. She offers up a complete tutorial for these one of a kind creations that anyone is sure to know came straight from the heart.

Simply adorable!

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