Memorial Day Weekend 2013

It’s become somewhat of a tradition to spend this kickoff weekend to summer working at home and getting projects completed before the heat arrives (2012 and 2011 recaps here). This year things are a little different. I decided to work on a myriad of projects on my own so while there was less focus, it was nice to get some of the little jobs off my list finally. Here they are all broken down by area of the house and/or yard:


With work going on in the backyard consistently about one day a week there’s not too much for me to do there. Of course the tree still need to come out but I need a chain saw and second person for that job.

The side yard is looking better too, except there are gallons and gallons of rocks to get rid of in the coming weeks.

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So I stared with planting a few flowers in the backyard to fill in the gaps where I’d previously dug up dead rose bushes

more flowers

They’re small but hopefully can survive the less than ideal soil conditions and my forgetful watering tendencies.

flowers 1Same with these since the soil here is pretty clay-like.

Master Bath

In preparation for the weekend I’d taken down the doors to my bathroom cabinet to sand them:

sanded doorsso that I could begin with paint:

bathroom cabCleaning out the bathroom has me anxious to tear out the cabinet and start replacing the floor. When I started taking up the tiles I found an even more hideous layer underneath:

DSC_0150Several hours with the wonderbar later and it was gone.

DSC_0155Baseboards came out too so all that’s left is removing the cabinet and countertop + sink.


It’s really hard to work in a room that you consider “done” but I found a few things that needed updating in the office. First, the blinds and curtains came down and I used the blinds frame to create another roman shade (like these I did in the kitchen).

office shades

They let in a lot more light and I really love the style (even if I need to tack the glue in a few places).

I also did a little patching since I removed the curtain tie backs from the closet since I don’t use them often.

office patchingGotta touch up the paint on those!

Living Room

I was thankful to have enough fabric to complete the 4th and final shade for the living room!

living room shadeLoving how these turned out and I even pulled out the leaf for the kitchen table so I could work on these long blinds easier.


I’m working on a new house projects list and was surprised to see that this space was nearly done in my mind. One of the last things was painting the little piece of baseboard we finally installed in December and touching up the paint on the door frames. So I pulled out the trusty painters tape and did that too:

baseboardsI would still like to replace the floors from the front door, down the hallway and into all 3 bedrooms with hardwood but I know that’s not likely to happen this year.

Guest Room

The guest room is another space that’s mostly “done” but I have found that it has more clutter than I would like as it’s a convenient place to dump pictures, clothes, crafts and stuff that I don’t want the dogs getting into.

guest room messWhile this is somewhat better than the dumping ground when I emptied my closet, it really needed to be cleaned up.

So I set the timer for 30 minutes, and here’s how it ended up:

cleaner guest roomI still need to tackle either all those baskets/boxes of pictures or all the craft stuff in the closet:

DSC_0176I did complete a little project that’s been waiting for me since December. I got this push pin board from Grandma’s old shed before we sold their house and painted the frame white:

pin board beforeA few months back I picked up this fabric remnant and glued it into the frame with hot glue. It’ll end up in my office soon 🙂

Pin board afterWell there’s still some paper left on the bathroom floor so I’ll be working on that until it’s done and then will begin painting the cabinet. Productive weekend for sure!

More Backyard Work

As I mentioned in the last update post, the backyard projects are just beginning! This week Ryan returned for some more work and after a quick trip to Home Depot we were a little closer to being done.

First up was the retaining wall around the flower beds on the east side of the yard. I decided to make the bricks 3 high on that section since we had most of the wall stones we needed. We picked up 7 more at a cost of $1.37 each and glued them in (so far we’re up to 5 tubes of glue and need one more to finish it up).

2013_05_22 (09)To finish up this section I need to clean up these rose bushes a little and fill in the flower bed with more fill dirt.

Second was finishing the brick path to the side yard with more bricks – these came in at 40 cents each and we are only 3 short. Sounds like a joke huh? 3 bricks short of a … nevermind.

2013_05_22 (11)If the bricks look a little lopsided it’s just a trick of the camera. They’re pretty solid and steady to walk on and once we add in the polymer sand to firm things up it’ll be even better. That should happen next week once all the paths and patios are in place.

2013_05_22 (13)One of the large trash cans will sit here to collect rain water from the side gutter.

Now, to the side yard!

I bought another big trash can, full of dirt and rocks. We’re up to 4 if you’re counting plus 2 buckets full. Anyone need free dirt? It’s littered with rocks so pretty useless to me.

2013_05_22 (07)In addition to the dirt coming out the 12″ square bricks are going in for these little “patios” for lack of a better term. As you can see they’re the perfect size for my compost bin and gas grill and will break up the flower beds. The red 12″ bricks are only about $1.21 each and we only had to buy 3 to finish this patio.

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I still need to :

  • Get rid of wood in smaller pieces
  • Get rid of dirt/rocks
  • Buy the wood/supports for the flower beds
  • Take out the tree!

This tree, guys, is so so dead. I fear that a good wind storm and it’ll go crash boom into the fence and then I’ll be stuck replacing a fence too.

2013_05_22 (10)Once that comes out I’d like to purchase more 12″ square stones and make another outdoor patio for chairs and possibly an umbrella. Wouldn’t this one from Ikea look so fresh and happy in that corner?

Screen shot 2013-05-22 at 5.41.40 PMCombine it with a few Adirondack chairs and it will be a nice little corner. I’m thinking of these $18 plastic ones from Home Depot:Screen shot 2013-05-23 at 8.13.58 PM


Maybe chairs in blue or green and the orange umbrella? There is still a lot of dirt and dumping work to do and of course a lot of planting of flowers, shrubs and climbing vines.

Completely New Closet for Under $100!

Once my closet was painted, lit up with new lights and clean, it was time to restock!

First up was this cool white organizer, I’ve had it for ages and it keeps moving around. I filled the drawers with scarves, bathing suits, belts, gloves and wraps. Lots of little things that are easy to get lost in the corners of the closet.

Closet 1Hanging next to it is my awesome hanging organizer, which spins and is so useful! It was a gift so I have no idea where you’d find it or how much you’d pay. I filled a few of the spots with flip flops (which I only really wear in the garden or in hotel showers, I promise Georgia!) and the cubbies are holding my pants. Jeans on top, khakis and black, gray and blue pants on the bottom. Boom.

In the middle of the closet are the dog’s crates. It’s summer so I took off their cute crate covers (to encourage the air to circulate so they don’t overheat).

Closet 9On the right side of the closet I have my new suitcase (the old one was filled with clothes to donate) as well as long hanging clothes like dresses:

2013_05_11 (01)Now for the top… I used the gray paint on the shelves to help them stand out a little. After putting in all the white boxes it didn’t stand out too much. I filled 6 organizers from Ikea before picking up 3 more. From left to right I filled the organizers with painting clothes, (3) sweaters, shirts, jeans, pants, shorts & capris & skirts.

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2013_05_11 (04)On the shelf below I’ve got all my shoes on a few ClosetMaid shelves:

Closet 2

2013_05_11 (05)I like having the shoes off the floor because Nixon is a little thief who steals my shoes all the time and even sleeps with them:

DSC_0045I filled up 2 large suitcases with clothes and shoes to donate and while I still have to bring in my hooded sweatshirts and sweaters that zip or button, it’s looking much better:

Closet 5The final element I added was a new, bright rug from (where else?) Ikea which was being discontinued and on sale for $20!

Closet 3Which means my total costs were:

  • lighting: $30
  • second shoe rack: $15
  • curtain wire & clips: $16
  • 3 additional clothes boxes: $15
  • paint, accent paint, organizers: free, already owned
  • rug: $20

Total: $96

So there you go – a completely new master closet which I love, for under $100 and a week of work!

Closet fit for a Master

True confession time: I’ve never really loved my closet. I mean, it’s much larger than my last closet and I yanked out those doors pretty quickly but other than that, it’s just… okay. Ready for a super old picture? Here’s how I tried to save space by putting the dresser in the closet:

It got a little better when I replaced the doors with curtains, put the dresser in the room and the dog crates in the closet, but I still wasn’t in love:


Recently though it felt like the only thing left “undone” in the master bedroom, especially since it had those old, ugly baseboards. So I got to work last week and now I’m ready to unveil the big after!

First I pulled out everything including hanging clothes, the dog crates, luggage, boxes on the top and a bunch of stuff I’d forgotten about. This is what my guest room looked like for the week:


Removed the old baseboards with a wonderbar and little bit of muscle. They came out rather easily and went right into the trash can so I wouldn’t injure myself with the splinters or nails.

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With the whole closet empty I wiped the walls and shelves down for painting including the ceiling. Then I pulled out the clothes bar which would not get paint. Can you imagine paint flakes falling down on my clothes every time I moved a hanger?

Before painting I filled in the gaps (as best I could) with caulk and let it dry for several hours. It’s important to use paintable caulk since it would otherwise show up obviously against the fresh paint.

With the step stool and drop cloths in place, I started painting. Friday night I got the bottom half done, including the door frame which used to be off white with some gray:

2013_05_03 (02)and now is a bright white (see the contrast from top to bottom half):

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Of course the lighter paint color is nice but it’s still a pretty dark space. So I bought some lighting! See the top of this picture, how bright it is?

2013_05_04 (01)This is the light I was looking for! So I picked out 2 sets of Ledberg track lights at Ikea for $15 each. I started by plugging in my extension cord behind the bookshelf and securing it to the wall just inside the closet with a small holder thingy.

Each set came with 3 tracks but you could also put All 6 track lights together and control them on one switch. Which is what I did. Now, Ikea is funny sometimes. They include these little tiny screws that won’t get past the drywall to make any difference. So I used 3M command strips cut down to size and adhered to the plastic.


From there all I had to do was link them together and stick the command strip to the header of the closet.


Here’s how it looked when it was all done:


After the paint dried, I steam cleaned the carpet. The next time Dad is up we’ll be installing the new baseboards!

The curtains went right back up but the tension rod I was using had begun to sag. So I picked up this wire set from Ikea and screwed it in 8″ beyond the opening of the closet for a few reasons 1) I had plenty of wire and 2) because screwing into the opening is tough because of the studs.

Here’s the curtains all strung up again:

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But I’m not willing to get dressed out of the guest room until that happens so I began restocking. Post #2 coming soon with the inside (final peek) at the organization!

Beginning in the Backyard

I am so so excited to have this project a little closer to being done! I got the inspiration from this pin from my Garden board:


Last time I shared about the backyard it was in a sad state. The boards that were holding back the dirt in the rose beds was falling apart.

board fallingI lamented the fact that I didn’t have a big car to haul in these new stones I wanted to rebuilt the retaining wall:

pavers2Plus there was the little problem of my wrist which has been in near constant pain for the past 2 weeks. Not really up to hauling stones, digging out bricks and pulling up boards.

So I hired some help in the form of a guy named Ryan who. is. awesome! Seriously, amazing help on this project, fast and nice to work with.

We started on day 1 at Home Depot before it got too warm and picked up 140 stones and piled them in the back of my Yaris and Ryan’s station wagon. We also got 3 tubes of outdoor adhesive to bond the first row of stones to the second. Since I was using my caulking gun for other projects we picked up a second caulking gun for outdoor projects.

Finally, a 60 pound bag of polymer sand which we will soon use to fill in the gaps between pathway stones to block out weeds.

The first day we just got the supplies to the backyard and made plans to start another day when it was cooler.


Second day started with tearing out the old crap and building the new retaining wall. I have no pictures of it in progress because Ryan was so damn fast! 3 hours in and he had the bricks out, the boards out, the dirt pushed back and the first layer of stones in place!

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The 3 tubes of caulk just barely covered what we needed so we had to grab another tube for the last bit.

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If you see above,  we couldn’t finish the middle section on the first day without taking out the final board and bricks. We’ll also work on taking out the tree!

I love how it curves in to the fence!

2013_05_04 (13)On day 3 we took out the final section and board and finished the second section of stones:


Going back to this list here’s what’s left to be done

  • Trim back the roses
  • Dig up 2 dead rose bushes
  • Begin replacing the wood retaining wall with new bricks
  • Complete the new retaining wall in 1 spot
  • Fill in the flower beds with new dirt
  • Seed the lawn in multiple bald spots
  • Plant more flowers under the guest room window
  • Cut down the tree in the corner

Of course the backyard is in progress but the side yard looks terrible still:

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I’ve been trying to get the stones out a few handfuls at a time but there will probably come a point where we toss everything in the green waste trash can.

2013_05_04 (09)(no, it is physically impossible to take a picture outside without the dogs photobombing)

So we still need to:

  • Dig out the small stones and hard dirt – halfway done
  • Recycle the wood that we pulled out of the backyard
  • Use stones to fill in the gaps
  • Measure for 2 raised flower/vegetable beds each will be 9′ x 3′
  • Buy wood and install flower/vegetable beds (newspaper to line the bottom)
  • Fill in the beds with fresh dirt
  • Dig out the scalloped edging – halfway done
  • Create another brick patio like the one below – halfway done

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Day 3 we also took out the walkway from the back patio to the side yard and replaced it with bricks:

20130507_133126Close up:


In the corner we’ll add more bricks to form a patio for my new rain barrel!

The side yard project got started, but we’re in that phase where it looks worse than we began:


But I think we’re making good progress!

*use of “we” should not be taken literally. I make suggestions and buy stuff. Ryan does all the heavy lifting, digging and hard work.