Friday, March 30, 2012

If I had a couple hundred million dollars

Garry and I fell into the lottery game seeing as the prize is crazy high. We know that we won't win, but sometimes it's nice to think about what we would and could do with that kind of money.

One thing that was brought up was if we'd stay in our house. Personally, I'd be okay with building a house from scratch that is exactly what we want. It doesn't have to be huge or even terribly fancy, but it would include a lot of elements that, for one reason or another, we just can't do in our little house. Garry, on the other hand, wants to just fix up our house exactly the way we want it and just live there, pay off all of our debt and just live simply and happily.

It's a nice dream.

I'd love to not have to work anymore. Not that I don't love my job(s), but there are times when accomplishing more than getting out of bed to use the bathroom is more than I feel I can handle. We've all been there folks. Not to mention, I'd like to be able to practice my violin more often and explore more of my artistic capabilities.

Something else I mentioned, is that I'd love to buy an RV to travel around the country in and take photographs of all the interesting places I went. I've always wanted to do that - travel and take pictures. Maybe it's the journalist in me, but there are so many beautiful and interesting places out there to see. Wouldn't you want to explore them all too if you had the chance?

Last, we'd want to make sure those closest to us were taken care of. That doesn't necessarily mean putting them in the lap of luxury, but help them get to a place that's "good."

However, in all of this, we'd want it all to be anonymous. I know, crazy right? (And is that even possible?) We wouldn't want everyone and their brother knowing that we in fact were the ones that won. Mostly because this and that charity, acquaintance, distant relative would be knocking on our door every day for a handout. Frankly, I wouldn't want to deal with it (as awful as that sounds).

For the most part, it would be our lawyers that would know and that's it. Kind of like Great Expectations only without as much crazy manipulation stuff going on.

Anyway, here's hoping. We'll all know tonight!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Living Room and kitchen - repainted!

I know I promised pictures of the living room and kitchen paint job like a million years ago, but it's been crazy at our house trying to get everything accomplished and let's face it - I don't want to take photos of our house while it's dirty.

Yesterday I cleaned (okay, mostly cleaned, the floors need to still be mopped and polished, baseboard and windows cleaned and the kitchen cabinets and bathroom bead board dealt with, don't even bring up our bedroom... it's a lost cause at the moment) the house in a mad-dash because my grandparents were stopping by for a visit. This was relatively unexpected and I know that my grandma would be rather upset with me if our home was filthy - even if we did have 10 people over through the weekend installing a fence and paneling. 

After they left, I grabbed some photos. The lighting isn't the best since it's in the evening, but you get the idea: 









After (we need to make some progress with this area)

There is still some work we need to do in the living room. We are planning on hanging the items that need to be on the accent wall tonight to make the room feel less like we're still in construction mode. After that the list of to-do's are: 
  • Find a LARGE high-pile rug that will fit under the couch
  • Textiles - curtains and throw pillows (made mostly with muslin) 
  • Build a new tv stand (I found awesome plans for an apothecary style stand at 
  • Add two sconces on either side of the clock to fill in the space. 
  • Decorative projects (I have a few in the works, but shhhhh! They're a surprise!) 

Here's some kitchen love... 


As you can see, we still have a lot of work to do in this room. What will really help is getting a good organizational system down, along with some artwork to give the room some personality. This will include:
  • Adding the shelving out of the reclaimed wood in our garage
  • Hanging artwork/personal items
  • Making new shades/curtains
  • Adding runners and place mats to the table
  • De-cluttering our counter top

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's all for you

All of this work we've been trying to get done in the backyard (and a lot of projects around the house) have been in an effort to get ready for our newest edition:

OMG don't you want to cuddle his little face!!! :D :D :D :D :D :D

There are very few things in this world that get me nearly this stupidly excited - a sweet, adorable little lab puppy is one of them. 

I mean really... look at his face. Look at those big, pleading, sad puppy eyes.

He really wanted to go outside and play, but my mom hasn't been feeling so great and chasing after the little scamp around 2 acres of yard was more than she could handle at the moment. So, he was left to play with his litter-mates. 

My mom has been a labrador retriever breeder since I was 8. Labs have been a part of my family for as long as I can remember and as long as my mom can remember.

My mom with her black lab Sam when she was a kid

So it only seemed natural that when Garry and I were ready for a dog we would give her a call and see when a litter would be available. 

You can find her website here: Lugger Labradors. She currently has both of our baby's parents, Ben and Pixie. Both are gorgeous dogs with excellent personalities. 

By the way, our little man's name is Auron. :D

We are over-the-moon excited about our baby! The fence is almost finished (one more panel to tighten) and we'll finish purchasing all of his necessities over the next week. 

We're also really excited for my friend Tavis to come and visit! It will be a BLAST. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

My love/hate relationship with wood paneling

Let's face it, when you're looking at purchasing a home and you see wood paneling - most people's first thought is how quickly they can rip it out. I am no different.

Most of the older wood paneling is dark and sometimes orangey. It doesn't really "do" anything for the room other than create a black hole kind of space. We used to have dark wood paneling in my childhood home in Charleston, WVa. It was also the late 80's when we moved there...

Well folks, what goes around comes around. And I suppose just like fashion, home decor trends start coming back too (it's no surprise, especially with the revival of styles like mid-century modern and art deco). With my major DIY-fail from last week still sitting on my head, I decided that I would bite the bullet and install some sort of paneling so I just didn't have to deal with it anymore.

Now, there are tons of different kinds of paneling out there. There is the popular bead board, but I thought a whole wall of that might be too much. There is also brick paneling - which I thought could look really cool, but then I would definitely have to paint it because it was red brick with dark charcoal mortar - way too dark for our living room. Of course there was the "standard" dark wood paneling and then I came across this:
image from

White-washed wood paneling? 

Hmm... the color palette would actually look really nice in our newly painted living room. Plus it ties in the white trim with the beige couch. Hmmm...

Garry went to look at it and said it was really nice and for the price and how much easier it would be to install instead of replacing the drywall, it was definitely worth it. So he grabbed four 4'x8' sheets (our wall is 12'3"), some adhesive and a box of finishing nails.

Unfortunately, this product warps really easily, even if you store it flat in a cool, dry place. Luckily you can take care of that problem with the finishing nails.

We had to take off all of the baseboard molding first. Since it was REALLY ancient (and we plan on replacing it anyway), we didn't worry about salvaging it. We were able to get it off relatively easily with a chisel and hammer. You can also use a crow bar and a hammer, but I really liked the weight and size of our small wood chisel (I have tiny hands).

After the molding came off, with a wince on my face we went ahead and installed the panels. All the while I'm telling myself: "I can always paint it... I can always paint it... I can always paint it..."

We had to cut out a little area for the outlet, we measured and used a jig saw for that. Not difficult at all.

Oh, you probably want the step-by-step. I suppose... although I'm not really expecting folks to want to install wood paneling. This was really a last resort for me, but if it's your thing, then go for it! Do what makes you happy.

Step one: Measure your wall
Pretty self-explanatory. Measure the length and height of your wall. Ours is 12'3"x8'. The panels were 4'x8' so that worked out pretty well for us.

Step two: Shop around
Yeah, I know this step is in EVERY tutorial I give, but I can't begin to tell you how important it is to shop around for the best deal. Depending on your needs, you may be able to find some great deals on craigslist or  wait for a sale to go down at your local home improvement store. We got our paneling from Lowes, since Home Depot didn't carry anything like what we were planning on getting in the prefabricated sheets. These suckers are kind of pain to get around too. Hopefully you have a friend with a truck. Otherwise you'll have to rent a truck. Boo!

Step three: Measure outlets, doorbell wires etc.
You'll want to do this on a panel-by-panel section, but measuring where each of these are is a great idea so you know whether or not you have to make a cut that traverses two panels.

Step four: Dry fit
Make sure the panel fits (sometimes the ceiling or floor isn't level and you might have to cut a weird angle) if not, then you need to take all sorts of wonky measurements. Make sure one of your friends helping you is good at math.

Step five: Apply adhesive
The adhesive we used was able to be applied with a caulk gun. You want to apply it in an "S" pattern along the wall to ensure proper adhesion. Don't just do one "S" do multiple undulations. You can belly dance while doing this, it's actually kind of fun.

Step six: Attach panel to wall over adhesive
Pretty self-explanatory. I found the easiest way to do it is from the floor up. Also make sure to get it as close to the seam as possible since once you stick it to the adhesive it won't want to move much. If you have to - get a block of wood and small hammer and place the woodblock on the edge, and tap the other side of the block with the hammer very lightly. This will help the panel move into place.

Once the panel is in place, press on it to adhere it to the wall.

Or you can do it this way:

Apparently Andy's bum makes for an excellent panel adhesion device.

Step seven: Nail in the seams and on the stud lines. 
This is where you can help deal with any warping that has occurred in the paneling. Start at the middle and work your way across the middle of the panel with your stud-finder. Nail in a finishing nail at every stud. 
We started in the middle and worked our way up then from the middle down. It really helped get rid of all of the warping. Don't hesitate to use more adhesive on the seams too if you need to. 

We slowly, but surely covered up the blue wall with this white-washed paneling. The more that went up, the more I liked it. I was admittedly very surprised that I didn't immediately want to run into the other room and grab my paint to paint over the panels. It actually worked well in the room and gave it that cozy vintage cottage vibe with a modern twist that we're going for. 

One down... 2 and a bit to go...

To deal with the doorbell wires in that wall, we drilled a hole using a bit wide enough for both wires to go through. We taped the edges up so we didn't electrocute ourselves and were able to pull them right though the hole.

See that corner of the wall where it looks white-ish, but not the same as the panel? Yeah, that's only a sliver of the epic DIY fail. I am honestly too embarrassed to show that faux-pas on the Internet.

I never in a million years thought I'd like wall paneling, but somehow, this really works. And I don't need to paint it either. Shock!

Obviously I took this before we did any clean-up or put anything back on the walls. I will be working on some of that tonight. We're also installing bright white crown molding and baseboard which will really pop against this accent wall.

I'm also dreaming of the dark chocolate colored electric fireplace with bookshelves I want to put there instead of the teak buffet. At some point we will be adding some plants and a few other doodads as well to the room.

Just in case you forgot...

Backyard clean up

Our back yard was in pretty bad shape for a while. We cut down three pine trees, one of which we used part of for our Yule tree this winter. Since we cut the trees down right before it got cold, we didn't really have the ambition to go out there and clean the yard up until recently.

You can see in these pictures almost how bad it was. Now, when folks came over to help with the fence, we had so many people again, I have so much gratitude for all of you that we were able to put some to work on helping to clear the enormous brush piles. Just to give you a clearer idea of how bad it was in the beginning - Garry and I had cleared about 2/3 of it before people came.

These photos were taken when we were almost done with the brush piles. Okay, this will give you a better idea of how much brush we had:

Oh wait there's more... 
Yeah, that's a scary amount of brush.

That took a few hours of about 5 people bagging up the brush. It was pretty bad. But now the yard is all clean... well... except for the picnic table exploding.

It was a really great way to relieve stress and injure shoulder joints.

And the enormous pile of bricks where Garry and Andy took out the brick planters next to the house: 

We're planning on another project for that back corner, but that won't happen for a while. :-) 

We also dismantled the mermaid that was guarding the back yard. I am planning on scrubbing her down with a good wire brush to get all the flaky paint off and repaint her. I'm also reusing the planter brick and the slate from her little wall (most of it stayed relatively in tact, which surprised most of us) to rebuild her shrine in the corner of the yard. That, my friends, will be a fun project!

For the time being, we figured she'd be happy in the front garden where she can see the goings-on of the world outside our yard. 

I think she'll be happy there for the time being.

Also - look at my hyacinths! they are blooming like crazy!

Remember that rouge ivy that was starting to come into our basement? Yep, we took care of that too.

We still need to really scrub the walls and dig some of the plants out (especially the myrtle growing in the right side of the last photo) and probably rake up those leaves. Also, you can really tell that basement window desperately needs to be replaced. (That's the screen that's all cracked and broken in the photo, not the actual window). That's another project on the list to take care of this year.

At some point, we may put a vegetable garden in that corner. If we do, that won't happen until next year or maybe the year after - depending on how many other projects we get to this year.

Overall, our yard looks a MILLION times better now that the trees are out of the way and the brush is picked up. We saved the larger pieces of wood to use in our fire pit. We're also (eventually) going to have a tree service come and take down the large pine tree in our yard. It's growing crooked and one good, heavy snowstorm will crack some of the larger branches and ruin our fence. It's better to be safe than sorry.

Chain-link fence installation - part 1

Wow folks, we had a pretty crazy weekend.

Is it sad that I was looking forward to Monday so I could "relax" a little. Haha, I guess sitting around in my office on my computer is my idea of relaxing.

Needless to say, we're a bunch of sore and tired dogs and cats over here. Before even going into the fence installation process, I have to say how immensely thankful Garry and I are for the folks that spent the vast majority of their weekend helping us out. We couldn't have gotten anywhere close to done without you folks and it is greatly appreciated. We owe you... big time.

Garry managed to bribe convince 10 people to come over and help install the fence and help us clean up our enormous brush pile (which is now an enormous pile of full contractor bags). It was amazing.

Okay, so first and foremost, Garry decided that instead of trying to dig the posts by hand, that he would rent an auger to do most of the work. This would help speed up the process of installation. Since we wanted to get it done in a weekend, it was necessary. You can rent two-person augers at most equipment rental companies.

But before that, here's the breakdown of steps.

Step one: Measure your yard
For our little yard, we needed to purchase a 100 ft. tape measure to get an accurate measurement. Even though we were installing chain link and could probably guesstimate (since they come in 50 ft. rolls) we still needed to know how many poles we needed to buy - so having an accurate measurement is important. You will also want to draw a diagram on some graph paper to take with you to where you're planning on purchasing your materials.

Step two: Shop around
I know this sounds like a silly step, but if you're not picky on the type of fence you want - you may be surprised at what ends up being the least expensive option. In our case, we wanted chain link for the durability it offered, but we probably would've spent a lot less on a wood picket fence. Check all your options, different stores and even places like craigslist. You might be able to find a really good deal.

Step three: Create a parts list
This is where the diagram becomes incredibly useful. With our chain link fence, we decided to put the posts every 8 ft (you can get away with putting them every 10 ft, but putting them a little closer provided more support). For our fence materials we needed:

  • 9 Corner posts
  • 20 Line posts
  • 19 Top rails 
  • 7 Corner post attachments
  • 2 End post attachments
  • 7 Line post kits (they came in packs of 3) 
  • 200 ft of chain link
  • 16 tension bars 
  • 25 bags of 60# concrete
On top of that we purchased/rented/borrowed: 
  • Maul 
  • Two-person auger (rental) 
  • Spray paint (to mark where holes needed to be dug)
  • Extra work gloves 
  • Come-along (borrowed) 
  • Fairly large ball of twine
  • Food/drinks for minions the kind folks who came to help you
  • Post level
  • Post-hole digger
  • Hack saw (with metal blade) 
  • Various shovels, rakes and pick axes
Let's just say... it wasn't cheap. Essentially, we ended up clearing out our savings. Not to worry though - we ended up being able to take back some items we ended up not needing after all (Garry always buys more than we need in case something happens) so we were able to put a few hundred back into savings when all was said and done. 

Step four: Prepping for installation

Before you do ANYTHING, make sure you contact your local utility provider and have them mark where the water/sewer/gas/electrical lines are so you can dig safely!

Get out your handy-dandy diagram, 100ft. tape measure, can of spray-paint, twine and another person or two to help. Start by finding your first end post. Usually this will be pretty close to the house, within 6 inches or so. Mark the ground with the spray paint. Measure to your next corner post and mark. Do this for all of your corner posts and end posts. 

Once you have marked where your corner posts will be, start at your first end post (again) and grab the tape measure and the ball of twine. Have person #2 run the tape measure and twine to the next corner post. Meanwhile, person #3 will mark every 8-10ft (no more than 10ft on center)  for all of the line posts. The twine helps to make sure that you're keeping the fence line straight - otherwise you'll have problems down the road with the fence being crooked and if you're doing chain link, it will eventually sag or become misshapen because the tension is uneven. (We learned this lesson the hard way, but thankfully before we installed the chain fabric) 

Also, make sure to measure your posts. Your corner/end posts should have the height of your chain fabric plus 2 inches sticking out above ground. The line posts should have 2 inches less than the height of the fabric sticking above ground. Mark these depths on the poles with a sharpie marker and place them next to your ground markings. 

Step five: Dig baby, dig!
Here is where the auger became super handy. 

That auger made drilling the holes a much quicker process. It ended up taking about 2 hours instead of 2 days. For $80 we rented this baby for the entire day. It was awesome.

You will want to dig a hole deep enough so the marks you made on your poles will be at ground level. We had a post hole digger as well in case we only needed a wee bit dug out since the auger was for the bulk of the hole digging.

Once you have all of your holes dug, your yard will probably look a little like this: 

Step six: Adding concrete
If you have some gorgeous sunny weather - go ahead and bring out the concrete. We used 60# mix (we wanted our fence to be really sturdy) and we didn't quite need an entire bag for each post. We actually had some concrete left over which we need for some other projects anyway, so it's a good thing. The easiest way to do it for us was to lay out a bag of concrete near every post like this: 

Start with your end post and stick your pole into the hole (okay, am I the only immature one laughing here? I'm not? Good.) and pour the concrete powder in. We learned that mixing the concrete powder with water in the hole was the easiest way to go. If you have a narrow shovel this will be pretty much cake. Add some water and kind of "fold" the mixture with your narrow shovel. You want the mixture to be only a slight bit thinner than butter cream frosting.

Fill the hole with concrete to about 2 inches shy of ground level. 

Once you have all of your concrete in, grab your post level (these things are SO handy) and move the post around until it reads level. Since the consistency of the cement is pretty thick, it will hold the post in place on a calm day. 

Go around and fill all the corner/end post holes with concrete in the same manner. 

Then, just like when you marked the holes, grab the twine and steak it off so the twine is touching your corner/end posts. This will help you line up all of your posts. Sometimes they won't read "level" in line with the twine, so make sure to try and level these out before adding concrete. Another lesson we learned the hard way. 

Fill in all your line posts in this manner. 

By this time, you and your minions helpers are probably tired. Now is a good time to take a break and throw some food on the grill. You did provide food and drinks for your helpers right? You better have. Otherwise they will probably leave the rest of the work for you to do and never come back to help with any future projects. Make sure to feed your help. Or, if that's out of your budget, provide one thing and ask everyone to bring an item to share. Potluck picnics are awesome. 

The concrete will take some time to set - anywhere from 4 hours to overnight depending on your weather. It was really damp and a little rainy even on Saturday, so once the poles were all happy with the concrete - we called it a night. 

However - you will want to check your posts after 2 hours to make sure they're still level. 4 hours is when the concrete really "sets" and after that it's working on curing. Checking one last time can't hurt anything. 

We had two other projects (other than the fence) that we did over the weekend too! Separate posts on those today and some more fence action tonight as we finish the fencing extravaganza!

Friday, March 23, 2012

DIY fail

That accent wall has given me nothing but trouble... and still continues to. *grumble*

Doesn't it realize that I just want to make it pretty?! AUGH! I could rip my hair out.

Just to give you a little trip down memory lane, when we purchased the house it came with an 8x12 wall-o-mirrors. Yeah. I'm not kidding. The ENTIRE wall was mirrors. Crazy! I understand why someone installed them (it gave the illusion of a bigger room) but it just felt too "sharp" to me and so they were taken down (very begrudgingly by Garry and a few of his friends because Garry actually didn't mind the mirrors and knew it would be a pain to take them down).

Crazy wall-o-mirrors

We totally understood why the previous owner didn't take them down, these suckers were a pain. Thankfully, the guys did it while I was at work, or somewhere else other than home. I came home to this: 

No more crazy mirrors!

This was all well and good, but do you notice the large patches of grey/green on the walls? Yep, that's where the adhesive stuck to the wall and pulled all of the layers of paint off. Crap. I was just hoping to take those mirrors off, do some quick repair and then paint and be done with it. But no... oooooh no... 

At some point I decided that since the paint was peeling off it ALL needed to be scraped off otherwise it would look like crap. So the next 3 months we scraped and scraped and scraped the paint off. 

But the walls were really gouged and looked even worse. Damn!

So then we got the great idea of plastering the walls ourselves. Not only was this incredibly messy, but we had no idea what we were doing. Seriously. It was a mistake. 

We ended up making matters worse by mixing the plaster too thin so it was extra messy and extra difficult to put on. Great. Well, at least the wall didn't look as bad as it did. Unfortunately, the holes in the walls were still fairly noticeable, even after I spackled the crap out of them. 

Okay FINE I said to the wall - and I bought some of the orange peel spray texture stuff. Thinking "this is going to be so easy and fast and the wall will look a billion times better." I even bought some silver metallic paint because it would be so awesome! 

Because our patch job on the wall was dry, I went ahead and sanded it smooth. I vacuumed up the dust and grabbed the spray can heartily. 

I shook the can just like it said on the container. I adjusted the nozzle so that it was spray a "medium" texture and started spraying. 


So I shook it some more and sprayed again.

A dribble of goo came out onto the walls. I was a little worried. 

So I shook the can a third time and really pressed down on the spray nozzle and finally in a quick spurt the texture sprayed on the walls with such a force it startled me. 

I just realized how funny this story actually is if you're picturing it in your head as you're reading it. Seriously, I didn't mean for it to sound perverted. Or maybe my mind is just in the gutter. That's what lack of sleep will do to you I suppose.

It was globbed all over the walls and I was not happy. So I thought maybe I'll just wipe it down a bit and spray over it. Well, we tried that and it just kept coming out like big slimy globs all over the walls. I thought "maybe I should adjust the texture." Nope. Actually, the texture regulator came off and being the idiot that I am, continued on. 

So now there's this texture stuff ALL over this one corner of the wall. Each can was supposed to be good for about 65 sq. ft. on the medium setting - nowhere close. I got one-fifth of our 8x12 wall "covered" and it looked terrible. 

I probably did something completely wrong, but yeah, it was a pretty epic DIY fail. 

I only made it worse by trying to wipe it off with paper towels (I honestly don't know why, I was just desperate at this point). So now the corner of our accent wall has streaky white texture crap on it. 

I sent a text message to Garry to let him know that things had gone horribly awry and that I hope he wasn't mad at me. He called to find out what happened and as I fought back tears of my defeat by the hands of the accent wall (yet again) he just chuckled and said he'd bring home some wine for me. What a good husband I have. 

As he walked in the door, he turned and looked at our accent wall. I was waiting for him to be horrified that I had messed up the wall as bad as I had and instead he started laughing... no... he cackled. Actually, I'm pretty sure he almost started crying because he was laughing so hard at me. :*(

While it didn't make me feel any "better," I was sure glad that he wasn't mad at me. 

At this point, we're going to bite the bullet and just put paneling up (and paint it) because:
  • I just want to get this project finished and this is a quick/easy way to do it.
  • It will add some interesting texture to the room.
  • I don't think my fragile ego can take another defeat from the accent wall.
There are a two choices I picked and sent to Garry to pick up later, one is a brick pattern and the other is white-washed cedar. I have no idea what's going to happen or what he'll come home with (probably the cedar since it's cheaper), but either way it will look better than it does now. 

On a not-so-great-note, I've been exhausted all week. I'm not terribly sure why either. I've been trying to get plenty of sleep. However, last night I was up until 2 a.m. even though I tried to go to sleep at 10 p.m. This morning was not fun. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in...

Well maybe not rain, but there was a huge hole in our wall where there was previously a vent for forced-air heating. We didn't know it was there until we took down the mirrors. Apparently since the mirrors were going up - there was no need to fix the wall. *sigh*

Luckily, fixing a hole in the wall is much easier than it sounds.

For small holes, you can buy a patch kit at most home improvement stores. All you do is apply the screen, mud it over and sand it smooth. Pretty simple.

Our hole was a lot larger than something we could use a patch kit for so we took the "let's make it more difficult than it needs to be" route and actually patched it with drywall.

We bought a small 2x2 piece of drywall at Lowes. We had some drywall tape and more mud than we know what to do with (we have a 50lb. bucket for when we finish the attic) so it was a pretty inexpensive project.

Here's a step-by-step of how to fix a hole in your wall with drywall.

I can't be too sure how accurate this will be - and considering the circumstances of where our hole was, we had to do use some methods that we don't think we'd find in a tutorial.

Step one: cut the hole to an even size
You don't want to have to cut a weird shape out of the drywall, so it's better to cut the hole to be square. If you're lucky, the hole in your wall will be over a stud. If not... well... we feel your pain. Ours wasn't either.

Step two: cut the drywall to the size of the hole
Pretty easy... cut to the same size...

Step three: attach the drywall to the wall. 
This, my friends, is where it gets a little tricky. Most tutorials will tel you to cut the wall until you find a stud and then screw the drywall in that way. Honestly, it's the safest and best way to do it. However, considering the placement of our hole and the unique situation, we chanced it and decided to glue the drywall into the wall with a really strong adhesive.

Also to note: Our hole was at the bottom of the wall and opened up into our basement (you could look down the hole and see what folks were doing down there) so Garry got on a chair and installed the drywall from "inside" the wall. This is why this solution worked well for us. 

Step four: apply mesh tape and mud/joint compound liberally over seams
Okay, the hard part is over! Yes! All you have to do now is grab your mesh drywall tape (it's sticky on one side) and lay it over the seams where the existing wall meets with your new piece of drywall. Once you've got that on, take your putty knife and slather some mud or joint compound over the mesh tape and extend just a bit beyond the tape. Try to get it on there as even as possible because you're going to have to sand it down smooth later.

Step five: let it dry, sand it smooth
Before you start sanding, you'll want to wait about 24 hours to let the joint compound or mud cure properly. Then you'll want to sand until smooth. Start with a coarser sandpaper and work your way up to a finer grit (three different grits should do it). Since we're planning on adding wall texture, we don't need to sand it down that smooth.

Step six: paint!
Hopefully you saved a wee bit of paint from your last project for touch-ups. If you did, break it out along with your brush and go to town.

We're at the "waiting for the joint compound to dry" step. This evening we'll sand it smooth and apply the texture. It's nothing fancy... just the spray orange peel stuff. Our walls are actually plaster (and gorgeously done) so the orange peel will be a little different, but not so much so. Since the texture doesn't take very long to dry, we might also be able to paint the accent wall today too. Not terribly sure yet. Either way, it looks like maybe Friday or Saturday we can post finished photos of the kitchen and living room (well finished until we start adding a lot of the decorative stuff).

Our big fence install/yard clean-up will also be this weekend! I'll make sure to keep you updated and include a bunch of photos (hopefully it won't rain!) Even though we needed to get all of this done this spring anyway having a puppy coming in a few weeks certainly lights the fire under our bums to get a lot of these projects taken care of since not having them taken care of can be harmful for our little guy. Also, my dear friend Tavis will be coming to visit and I'd like the house to not be a mess. Can you say spring-cleaning frenzy the night before they arrive? Yep.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Don't fence me in

Last night Garry and I started working on the accent wall in the living room. Well, that is until we realized there is a huge hole in the wall that needs to be fixed (it was from when the house used to have forced air heat) before we started applying the texture stuff.

So, off to Lowes we went. We also figured that while we're there we could pick up some of the stuff for our chain link fence we're planning on installing this weekend.

Unfortunately for us, we didn't realize all of the components you needed for chain link. Our yard isn't huge (we needed 185 linear feet of fencing) but it still ran us close to $1,000. Originally we planned to spend about half of that.

Luckily, we have that money in savings. We didn't have enough room in the vehicles (and I didn't transfer money from savings into checking since I didn't anticipate the cost to be so crazy high) so we didn't purchase everything just yet. We did get the posts and cement, so at the very least we can put the posts in. If we have enough time over the weekend, we'll put the fence fabric up too.

Let's just say, it will definitely be a while before we start any other major projects! Those reserves need to be built up again!

We will end up being a few days behind with our living room project - mostly because the trip to Lowes last night ended with us being fairly exhausted and little energy to do much else than eat dinner and go to bed.

Tonight Garry is going to patch the wall and I believe tomorrow we'll be spraying the texture and painting. I'm not really sure.

I'll post a tutorial on fixing holes in drywall as well. It's one of those unavoidable things when you own a house - at some point, you're going to have to fix holes.

My garden is still hanging in there. Every day I'm worried I'm going to wake up and they'll all be chomped.

Oh! And apparently in my backyard (under the tree debris) there are some larger hyacinth and tulips growing! Awesome! I have no idea what color they are, but it will be a cool surprise when they do finally come up. After the fence is installed, I'll be spending next weekend rebuilding the mermaid shrine and moving some plants around. I also have some delphinium and casablanca lily that needs to be planted. It's going to be a gorgeous garden!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Crossing items off the list

We're finally working on crossing things off our list:
  • Paint kitchen
  • Paint living room and weird hallway 
  • Move floral curtains to bedroom  
  • Resurface accent wall in living room 
  • Very carefully dismantle the mermaid shrine in the backyard 
  • Demolish brick planter
  • Install fence 
  • Reassemble mermaid shrine 
  • Bag up yard waste
  • Organize/redecorate guest bedroom (we might have like 3 days to do this before Tavis comes to visit, thankfully it should only take me an afternoon.)
  • Build fire pit

Tonight we will be resurfacing the accent wall and painting it - then we're very nearly halfway there!

A bit of sadness though, I think there is a ban on actually using fire pits until May because it has been so dry up here. Boo! Hiss! I am not a happy kitty. So, we might be able to put off building the fire pit for a while since we can't use it anyway. 

This weekend we're hopefully going to be installing our fence. We decided to go with chain link since it's fairly economical, will do better at keeping critters out of the yard, and I'm planning on prettying it up with some dense, flowering vines and maybe a few other surprises. 

Another project I would like to get to is replacing the opaque curtains that were in the living room (and now in our bedroom) along with adding some really cushy throw pillows (ours are kind of flat and uncomfortable) however I'm not sure what colors to get. Maybe I'll just let inspiration hit me. (But not too hard I hope!)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Living room... getting there!

I feel like I'm having a bit of deja-vu.

When we bought our house at the beginning of last August, We rushed to paint our living room because we had a couch being delivered that week. It was crazy, but luckily I had a great idea for a color scheme, fabric and all of that.
That scheme is now moving into our bedroom the living room is taking on a new life, something more calming and neutral with some pops of bolder colors and mixed metallics.

We used Glidden's Barely Jade in our living room. It's a light grey with a slight green tint to it. It's a really interesting color and it looks gorgeous against the white trim. Our carousel photos look really awesome as well!

I would take some photos, but my feet really hurt. I guess that's what I get for running around barefoot on hardwood all day.

The odd thing, now that we have everything back on the walls and the computer desk moved to the basement, It feels like there is a huge "hole" on the far side of the room (near the accent wall).

At some point, we'll put in a really nice electric fireplace with some built-in bookshelves and a nice comfy chair (a really cool wingback would be awesome), or we may build a corner bookshelf... or something. I'm not sure yet. I do know, however, that we're going to take a short break from big DIY projects after we install the fence.

There may or may not be a bathroom painting project in the future (since we have an unexpcted gallon of left over paint in the kitchen color) as well as a few smaller craft projects, gardening and our puppy experiences (and probably about 8 billion puppy photos). Also, you should check out my friend Raine's blog:

She is actually in the process of building a straw bale house. It's a rather exciting project and since she is starting from scratch essentially, she can customize it exactly to her needs and wants. The land she purchased is also gorgeous with TONS of room for gardens, fire circles and temples. Essentially, it has me squeeing with delight!

Food might be a good idea. My co-worker at my second job gave me a huge box of strawberry cheesecake flavored Smidgens. Real food might be a good idea.

Adventures in gardening

One thing we really wanted to do when we moved into our house is create some gorgeous, lush gardens.

Problem was... I've never actually planted anything other than the occasional something in a terra cotta pot. I never had the ambition or space to do it, plus when I was younger and lived with my parents, that's something my mom really took care of on her own and wasn't terribly "garden obsessed."

To put it simply, I was fairly terrified that I would have a "black thumb" and everything I planted would die, or get eaten or... well just not grow.

Needless to say, I needed a little help.

My friend Raine is a fantastic herbalist and has grown hundreds of different kinds of plants, has all sorts of knowledge beyond what I ever could imagine having and was willing to help play in the dirt.

Late last fall, Garry and his friends tore all of the weeds out of the front planter. It was pretty over-grown with who-knows-what and it looked a mess. So out all of that went.

Next came the rocks. All of those were plucked out and set aside.

We laid down a mixture of topsoil and potting mix and put the landscape material down, just so the weeds wouldn't grow back in the meantime. We had a relatively mild fall, so the chances of the invasive stuff growing back was pretty high.

When we were ready to plant, we pulled the material up (because we were planting a LOT of flowers) and went to town.

I figured we'd keep it easy, so we planted a bunch of bulbs (they require less work and are perennials so they'll come back every year) that included tulips, hyacinth, daffodils, wood squill and some gorgeous bearded iris.

The really mild winter and very warm spring allowed my bulbs to shoot up out of the ground and sprout like crazy! It was amazing! Not only that, but they would bud in the morning and be in bloom by the end of the day.

I was also happy that our blue star juniper also did really well (we planted them in front of the house)

And our little Japanese maple survived the transplant and is thriving.

All said, I'm fairly happy with the way everything is working out. The bearded iris has yet to sprout - although I think those come up later in the spring. Each morning there are a few new flowers that have blossomed, making it hard to keep up with photos (all of these were taken within a 24-hour period). I'm hoping that I'll have a bed full of flowers soon!

The other great thing about bulbs is that they continue to grow and spread every year. We kept this in mind when planting them, leaving enough room for them to "fill in" the planter.

Also, at some point this spring I'll be taking a few bulbs out and moving them near the front entrance to make room for some rose bushes. I haven't decided what kind to plant yet - I'll have to wait and see what colors come up to decide.

I took the day off of work so I could get the living room finished and to just enjoy the weather. It's so rare that we have such nice weather here in upstate NY (especially this time of year) so I figured taking the time to enjoy it would do me some good when reality actually sets in and the weather gets back to "normal."

Photos of the finished paint jobs (both kitchen and living room) should happen today. Ideally, after we've cleaned up the kitchen a bit more. Somehow, that kitchen managed to get dirty and cluttered in a blink of an eye.