Monday, October 24, 2011

Homeowners: The Backyard of Doom

One of the huge reasons we wanted to buy a house was to have a backyard of our own. So we could enjoy evening drinks with friends around a patio table and let Ollie run in his own space and have a grill we didn't have to share with 50 other people in the apartment complex and so I could plant herbs and hibiscus and whatever I felt like in the garden.

When we moved into this house we knew it was going to be a lot of work back there. The house had been a foreclosure and was therefore vacant for over a year which meant that no one was taking care of the yard. Add that to the fact that they had random cages (we think for animals of some sort) and covered structures throughout the yard and we were faced with quite a challenge.

Step 1: 
*Remove all the random structures. 
(evidence can be seen along the wall behind J)
*Pull out all the dead plants in the planter. 
*Demolish the oddly placed piece of cement in the side-yard 
(which turned out to be a bigger project than we imagined)
*Attempt to remove all the stickers/weeds in the lawn 
(so Ollie wouldn't come in covered in them, but clearly he wasn't in the actual lawn much)

Step 2: 
*Kill off all the dead grass/weeds/etc etc in the lawn
*Rototill the yard so it wasn't as hard as brick 
(rented a truck from Home Depot and two rototillers because our ground sucked that much)
*Lay down 20+ bags of topsoil, that happens to smell like manure 
(J's clothes had to be washed multiple times to get the smell out) 
*Attempt to put in a sprinkler system 
(but realize we don't have enough water pressure for one after all the digging was finished)
*Scrap said sprinklers and fill in the holes
*Spread more top soil and fertilizer
*Lay sod

Step 3: 
*Admire the changes because they are so great!
 *Water sod excessively with our sprayers attached to the hose
*Start to plan out what to plant around the edge of the yard
*Put in red bark along the edge of the patio 
(because the spot was too skinny for grass and Ollie needs a "restroom")
*Buy a patio table to finish the yard off
*Continue to water the new sod
*Dream about all the evenings we'll spend in our new space

We cannot believe how much hard work it took to fix the yard but we are so happy with the results. Now it's time for entertaining of friends and family back there. But for now I'm off to water the sod ;-)

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Day In The Life

Yesterday I had the day off. No work for this girl! I've heard about this going around a bit so I thought I would join the party and take a picture of my day, one picture every hour. And here's what you get....

8AM: Wake up and attempt to get Ollie up too. He's such a teenager in the mornings, totally gives me the "5 more minutes, Mom" look. 

9AM: Made myself some french toast. And I just want to clarify, I did not eat all 4 pieces. I made extra so I could have some this morning too.
10AM: FedEx delivered a box to the front door and managed to scare the begesus out of the dog. He needs to get out more.

11AM: In said FedEx box was our custom artwork that J's cousin made for us for our new home. All we told him was we wanted something that flowed together and had blue-tones in it. We love how it turned out and just have to find a place to put it now.

12PM: Stopped by the post-office to mail a little something to J's other cousin who had a baby girl about 2 months ago. I've been meaning to send it to them for a while now but moving and work and fixing up the house has sort of gotten in the way until now.
1PM: Nothing is quite as delicious as some pink lemonade on a warm afternoon. Am I right?

2PM: I ended up taking a bit of a nap. Hence the reason there's no picture. Sorry I had a somewhat lazy day.
3PM: My O-dog was being uber-sweet and wouldn't leave my side when I took him out in the yard. He's such a big baby sometimes and it makes me love him even more.

4PM: I went to my tutoring job and every day I am sort of jealous of the neighborhood they live in. I mean seriously, these houses are huge and gorgeous (and easily $800,000)

5PM: After tutoring I stopped by Old Navy because I needed some new jeans. I was able to find a great pair and some clearance tops that I absolutely love. Successful shopping trips always make my day. 
6PM: I took the pup on his daily walk to the park. He just loves it over there and will run and run and run. Then he decides to lay in the grass and either roll around or chew on a stick. 

7PM: I made a delicious dinner for J and I but he was a little skeptical about it at first. It's a breakfast item (aka it has eggs and ham) but also has spaghetti which sort of freaked him out. It turned out great, he said I could make it again and I'll mark it up as a success. 
8PM: I decided to give Ollie a few treats after dinner. His one main trick is that he waves at you. Well he was so excited about the treats that he just sat down and started waving on his own. "Look at me mom, isn't this what you want me to do? Can I have my treat now?" Sweet, sweet boy. 

9PM: Poured myself a Shock Top and it was delicious. So much better in a cold glass with an orange slice by the way. 
10PM: Settled in relaxing while watching some Jersey Shore. We have 1450 sq ft in our new house and all of us end up being within a foot of each other. 

11PM: Headed to bed and wrapped the dog up in the blanket. He could careless as long as he has this piece of felt to chew on. Then sleep. 

What's a normal day for you? 

Monday, October 17, 2011

DIY Braided Scarf for Fall

I have been absolutely loving Pinterest lately. Haven't you?

Well I'm here again to show you something else that I've made using a pin as the inspiration. I've made no-bake cookies, taco soup and taquitoscustom art for our guest bedroom, lace shorts, and the most recent hummingbird clutch.

Exhibit A: The Ultimate Goal: sold for over $44

Exhibit B: The Tutorial and Sample: from Put Up Your Dukes

And finally....

Exhibit C: My Take

Two tees from Goodwill: around $8
Thread, scissors, and sewing machine
Time in my craft room one evening listening to my James Taylor station on Pandora

I love the way that this turned out. I specifically bought tees in colors that were fall-ish and could coordinate with my wardrobe the most. Isn't it the worst when you buy or make something that you have nothing to wear it with? Maybe that's just me. In hindsight I would actually buy some jersey fabric to make another one because the shirts I used didn't give quite the 60" length that fabric would have. I love the way that this scarf sits but it would be nice to have another that I can wear doubled. 

It's a little hard to tell because the next picture was taken on my phone in the evening (with only big over-head lights) but the scarf coordinates perfectly with an army-green colored jacket that I've started wearing a lot lately. I wore it when J, Ollie and I walked to the park and watched some softball one evening this week. 

Thank you Pinterest for giving me something else fabulous!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hummingbird Clutch

Last weekend J and I picked up a folding table for me to use in my craft room/our other spare room upstairs in the house and I've been itching to make something up there. It's so nice to have my own space like that, where I don't have to worry about putting everything away or finishing a project the day I start it. So the other day I decided to wander around Jo Anns with my Pinterest boards pulled up on my phone and see what struck my fancy. 

This is what I decided on. 
(Pleated Clutch from Punkin Handmades)

And this is what I made!

I followed her tutorial almost exactly and it was really easy to follow overall. (Perfect for someone like me who is far from an expert seamstress.) Specifically I bought a 1/3 of a yard of both my outer and lining fabrics and still have plenty left over for something else down the road. I used a 14 inch zipper and decided not to use the D-ring and strap options. I did not use any interfacing or fuseable fleece partly because the stuff scares me and also because I don't understand the point. I substituted the fusible fleece with two pieces of $0.25 white felt and it seems to have worked just great. 

I was immediately drawn to this fabric because of the hummingbirds. I have a special place in my heart for them and I knew this was an awesome way to discretely show part of a wing here, part of a beak there. I loved the coral color in some of the flowers and decided to exploit that for the inside polka-dot fabric and the zipper. (Although I was close to using the kelly green instead.) I know I'll be making another one of these soon with a more fall/winter appropriate fabric because this is a little spring-y for October but I couldn't resist. 

One of the best things is how much this thing can hold! There are two small pockets on the inside for carrying those little things we call carry around and the darting step for the corners makes this clutch pretty expandable if I do say so myself. 

This is everything that I've been carrying around inside on a regular basis:
Sunglasses - phone - coffee-cuff 
keys - lipgloss & chapstick - pen pain meds
and my wallet (which is a pretty good size) 

There has also been some randoms
4 inch sprinkler head (it was yard-improvement day today)
a calculator (for tutoring)
and a small banana (for breakfast, duh)

The overall consensus is that I love my new clutch and I can't wait to make some more of them. I might even start making a few of them for Christmas gifts (it's not to early to start planning, just fyi)

What have you made lately? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Custom Art & Lessons Learned

In my Guest Room Make-Over post I showed you the newest artwork that I made for above the bed and I thought I would share with you how I made it. And more specifically how it's always good to look into things a little bit before attempting them to avoid a project being more involved than you wanted it to be. <--- This is called foreshadowing ;-)

Like I mentioned before, I used this as my inspiration for the project. Well that piece of art combined with the pattern on the sheet set for the bed. I loved the flowers on them and knew I wanted to use them in the room somewhere else.

I used the pillowcase as my visual and drew out one of the flowers as best as I could. I knew I wanted to use two canvases for the space so I re-drew it once more with a division down the center. I love how it isn't symmetrical, something that even J was surprised I would do.

I gathered my 16 x 20in canvases (that have been sitting blank for at least 6 months with no inspiration) and carefully drew a blown up version of the original on each half.

Lesson #1: do not, and I repeat, DO NOT assume that the person who originally wrote the caption for your pin on Pinterest was accurate. When I checked out my pin before starting the project it read "Elmer's glue on canvas. Then paint the whole thing one color". Easy-peasy I thought. So I took out my glue, carefully placed as smooth of lines as I could get and went to bed.

This is what I woke up to. Lesson #2, Elmer's glue is not like puff paint. It dries flat. This is not what I wanted. Thankfully I only did one canvas up to this step so I saved a little bit of wasted time.

Lesson #3, always check on the source of your pin yourself so that you get the results that you want. Turns out that the original was made with white puff paint on canvas, not Elmer's. I was frustrated by this point, only had red puff paint and knew I had a can of white spray paint so I continued on. Retraced all of my lines with the red, waited for them to dry and gave them a good coat of spray paint.

I ended up having to go back to the second canvas (aka the one I didn't originally mess up on) with some glue around the puff paint to make them look the same. See in the above photo how the glue (the shiny parts) sort of seeped out along the red puff paint? Turns out when I spray painted them you could sort of see those parts, granted I liked the look, but I had to then "mess up" the other canvas to get them same.

Eventually my project was finished, with many more steps that I was originally planning on, but lessons learned and custom art made so I say it was a success in the end. Don't you agree?

*Please go back to my original Guest Room Make-Over post and check out what I updated* 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Homeowners: Guest Room Make-Over

One of the first tasks we took on in the new house was the upstairs spare bedrooms. Not only did they need some serious painting but we wanted to turn them into spaces we would use and appreciate. Since we had some amazing help from J's family with our actual move (they flew in from CO just to help us!) we thought it was fitting to actually set up a guest bedroom for them. 

Check out the transformation!

Just incase you can't tell from the picture, yes, this room used to be Pepto bismol PINK and it needed to go! We wanted to paint a neutral color in the whole house that would be more than just "off-white" but that we could decorate with in all parts of the house to their unique styles. We decided on the color Wheat Bread from Behr and I absolutely love it!

Since we were coming from a one bedroom apartment, one of the first things we had to buy was a guest bed. We decided to hit up IKEA and bought this HEMNES bed frame in gray-brown. The duvet cover and pillow shams are also from IKEA from the "as-is" section and cost me a grand total of $10! Plus I love the little detail work that makes it that much more pretty. The sheets are from a previous bedding set that I used to have at home and I thought they were the perfect compliment to the duvet with a bit of color. 

I made some art work for above the bed of a blown up version of the flower in the sheets with this as my inspiration. I am very happy with how it turned out but it did take a bit more effort that I was imagining. I plan on doing a post about this specifically later on.

We still have a little bit of work to do in the room, like finding an actual bed-side table (not just two storage baskets stacked on top of each other) as well as some other aspects for the walls but those can come with time.

*updated* I was able to find the perfect start to the rest of the wall decor for the room the exact same day as I originally wrote this post. See that awesome shelf on the wall? Yeah, I found it at Goodwill for $4.99! Some struggling later and I was able to get it hung on the wall, given a fresh coat of ultra white paint and added a few items to it that were also either cheap or free. And who doesn't love that. 

I found this awesome frame (purchased because I loved that it was square and I loved the wood it was made of, and for $1.99 I had to get it) and was able to give it a little face-life. I used fabric from an old white sheet to make a bunch of rosettes and glued them to the front. I love the texture it adds.

The rest of the shelf contains votive candle holders I already owned, a cheap IKEA clock also previously owned, and a frame from Dollar Tree with a print out of one of my favorite sayings:

"What I love most about my home is who I share it with"

Overall I love the look of the room and am actually sort of jealous that our master bedroom isn't even this put together yet! I can't wait for more visitors to come and stay with us now that we have the perfect space for them. 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Homeowners: SOLD!

Things are a changin' my friends. 

There has been lots of hard work, big decisions to make, and plenty of excitement as we transition into a new stage of our life. 

A new stage where we are homeowners!

I've decided to start a series around here where I'll share with you parts of our new home, projects we've accomplished and anything home-related so please stay tuned. I cannot wait for all of the adventures that this home is going to bring J and I and I can't wait to share them with you here. 

But now, I'm off to paint!


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