Entries from September 30th, 2011

A Little Mulch Goes a Long Way



After we finished our new little garden we quickly realized that it wasn’t going to stay looking footloose and weed free for very long.

Within a matter of weeks it quickly went downhill from looking like this all neat and tidy with freshly raked dirt and our cute new plants.

To this hot mess full of crab grass and other unnameable things with roots reaching so deep you envision someone in China pulling on the very same weed.


We were losing the weed battle, definitely not the look we were going for. We knew it was about time to get our mulch on. I’ve always loved mulch since I was a kid…yeah I’m weird like that. I also loved watching This Old House with my Dad on Saturday afternoons when I was little,  go figure.

We went off to Home Depot and got a bunch of bags of black mulch, and gathered newspapers from the recycling pile. A long time ago we read somewhere that newspapers make a fantastic weed barrier instead of the usual black plastic.  We’ve used it as our go-to weed barrier in planting beds for years. It withholds light stopping the weeds from growing while allowing moisture to penetrate to the soil.

The newspaper holds up surprisingly well with mulch on top which is also a natural weed barrier giving you an added layer of protection in garden beds while being completely biodegradable and the best part is it’s absolutely free since we just save a bunch of Sunday newspapers as we go and use them when we’re about to mulch the gardens.

I basically worked my way around the garden laying out the newspaper 2 to 3 sheets thick overlapping the edges to ensure full coverage, luckily this day it wasn’t windy so there was no running around like a crazy person holding the edges of the paper down. A smarter person on a windy day may want to dampen the newspaper slightly to keep it from flying about. But that’s just if you’re smarter than I am.

Once the newspaper weed barrier was in place we began spreading the mulch in around the garden in sections about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep.

Making sure to wear gloves since the dye used in black mulch tends to rub off of the mulch but sticks to your hands permanently, so unless you’re going for the black dye covered hands look gloves are probably your best option.

After a quick couple hours the garden was in tip top shape again. We’re really happy with how this little project turned out.

We went from this

To this.

I’m really liking how neat and tidy it all looks again and how much more vibrant to colors of the flowers are against the black background of the mulch.  We’re totally please with house this turned out and it was super cheap too. The mulch was around $3.50 a bag and we used about 6 bags for this little garden. The newspaper was free since we saved it from the recycling bin. So we brought about this dramatic change and time saving weed control not too mention our plants love the added moisture for around a whopping $21.00.

Flowers & Paisley Painting Tutorial IV



Well it’s about time I got around to writing out the final installment of my Flowers and Paisley Painting tutorial. As you can tell procrastination is definitely one of my strong points…now only if it was an Olympic sport.

But enough of my excuses, let’s get on with the tutorial shall we?

For this final installment I’ll be showing how I painted the Abstract Floral above. As you can tell I’m quite fond of bright, saturated, colorful paintings so not a lot of mixing is generally involved.

Since most of the instructions are identical for each canvas I won’t go into all the details here. For a full list of supplies, paint colors and complete instructions hop on over to Part I here and Part II here and Part III of the Flowers & Paisley series.

The instructions are simple though… download the sketch, follow the paint by number key below and have fun painting!


  1. Dioxazine Purple almost straight from the tube and a speck of Titanium White. For the lighter petals add more Titanium white to your mixture
  2. Cadmium yellow (pale hue) and Cadmium Red Light. This mixture varies for each petal. Work from the outside in to create the flower
  3. Magenta ans Titanium White. The darker petals are Magenta mixed with Permanent Alizarin Crimson
  4. Phathalo Green and Camium Yellow
  5. Dioxazine Purple and Titanium White and a speck of Alizarin Crimson

Some Tips

While the paint is still wet dry brush with white paint to highlight

I usually paint 2 coats on each area to achieve the vibrant colors

Remember to have fun it’s just paint you can always paint over it if you don’t like it

 Click link below for PDF of sketch

Flowers and Paisley Art IV sketch

PS: Don’t forget to check out Part I herePart II here and Part III here

PPS: If you like this project stroll on over to our tutorials page to see our other projects

PPPS: Thanks for stopping by and Happy Painting Everyone!

I’m kind of loving…Abstract Art



Classic Impressionism Renior’s Boating Party

Ever since I was a wee little girl I’ve kind of been in love with Art in all forms from Michelangelo to Picasso and everything in between. Some days I feel that I could have majored in art in college and blissfully spent my days drawing and absorbing art history.

I’ve always been drawn to the classics impressionist artists such as Monet, Renoir and Degas. It’s with that original love that lately I’ve been drawn to Abstract and Non-Representational art, which I’ve recently learned the difference.

Abstract art represents real objects that have been changed, distorted or simplified in some way.  Non-Representational art does not represent any specific object but rather balance of light color and movement. With that in mind here’s some modern day paintings and artists that I’m loving right now.

Michelle Armas — Rosalia

Linda Monfort — The Ocean Wild

Debra Hurd — Girl in the rain with umbrella

Leander Engström — Still Life in Blue Vase

All images pinned on Pinterest click on the image for the source. You can find much more inspiration on my Art board.


Oh happy day!



Yippee! It’s finally finished! Yup, the biggest project we’ve tackled thus far is finally complete. We’ve officially completed the cornerstone of our entire backyard overhaul. We planned, we prepped, we dug, plotted and finally finished a project that took the majority of the summer. It feels good to have a completed deck. So I’m finally back to tell you the end of the tale of the deck.

Let’s start at the very beginning shall we. Almost 2 years ago when we first decided to purchase the house. We knew right from the beginning that a pool in the back yard would be oh so awesome for hot summer afternoon’s gazing from the comfort  of the raft overlooking the lake. Bryan and I both grew up with pools and had always talked about having a pool someday. What didn’t know was that someday was going to come quicker than we’d hoped.

While we loved the idea of having a pool in the backyard what we didn’t love was the giant saucer of a pool floating out in the middle of the yard with a WAAAAY too small platform that made it impossible for sitting. The way it was you were either in or out no lounging on that platform was going to happen EVER. Artificial grass does not exactly say “hey come and sit down on my synthetic grassiness”. Totally not the look or “feel” we were going for. We felt there there were some area there for improvement.

After some deliberation and hours of debating with my father Tony the mastermind behind every major building project that goes on around here we came up with a plan.

Click on the image above to see it super-sized.

With his plan we were aiming to address a few issues that we felt were going on. First the new deck would solve the lack of lounging area that we feel is definitely imperative to a truly relaxing pool experience. Second it would bridge the much higher grassy area of the yard with the much lower rocky area you can see in the first picture. As it was it felt a little bit disconnected from each other and we really wanted the whole yard to flow from the house right on down to the lake front which of course is the main attraction.

Once the plan was laid out the guys got to work digging and setting posts and starting the general construction. You can read all about the progress in these posts here  and here where we first introduced you to our total vision.

But I digress, the deck itself was a huge undertaking not only because it’s well, pretty darn big at almost 16 feet wide by 26 feet long but it also needed to float next to the pool, not attached to it and transition from the grass area to the height of the pool.

To make up the height difference we decided that a couple of different platforms and some steps would be needed to make a smooth transition.

The first steps start right as you make your way through the arched gates my father custom built. On either side they give weigh to two benches perfect for sitting and chatting or as we have found lately are also pretty handy for using as side tables to set a glass of perfectly summery homemade iced tea my mom is famous for.

As you make you way down the deck another two steps transition onto a second platform level with the pool. Where some day we plan to add some chaise lounge chairs and side tables but for now a little baby Adirondack chair set next to some of the most comfortable already owned aqua chairs.

A lot of the details in the deck were super time consuming. Each element took some thought and preparation. Not to mention what felt like 100 trips to Home Depot over the course of the summer.

The arched gate adds some height to break up the long expense of railing across the back yard. Giving it a bit more visual interest, as well as the varying widths on the rails. While on the custom bandwagon we played around with each handrail by hand router the edges for an added layer of detail.

And speaking of playing we’ve already been getting a ton of use out of the deck splashing and playing about. We absolutely plan to get a ton of years out of this baby watching Nik play and laugh by the pool.

So what about you guys, Anyone take on a giant deck project like us that took the majority of the summer? We’re so happy it’s done though!

Rain, rain go away



Is it just me or does it feel like it’s been raining FOREVER! Usually September can be one of my favorite months of the year, although this year I’m not quite sure I’m ready for it’s arrival. I still feel in the mood for the lazy days of summer, ah but time marches on.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene that left much of the east coast waterlogged we’ve been drenched in another round of rain leaving already water logged New Jersey fighting a losing fight. Throughout much of last night I heard pouring rain through the open windows that were supposed be letting in cool September air. Usually I’m all for rain storms at night although it was not a welcome sound last night. I woke and quickly looked out the window to see how much the lake had rose.

It’s not good I tell you.  The docks are flooded as well as portions of grass that have been sacrificed to the lake. Happily for us and our neighbors our homes themselves are set high enough that we have not been affected by the flooding, although others on the lake and many around NJ are not fairing as well.

But fortunately at this very moment I see hints of glorious sunshine breaking through. Here’s to wishing for rainbows today in New Jersey.

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