Archive for May, 2011

Having It All Together

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Posted by Rebecca, May 31st, 2011

Can I tell you how much I love three day weekends? That extra day is like gold. Five days on with two days off every week just isn’t enough. Someone needs to make 4 day work weeks :)

Friday after work we finally got around to putting together some of our patio furniture, but we didn’t get to the table before it got dark. So first we had phantom table…

The chairs were super easy to put together since we only had to screw on the arms. Each chair came in 4 pieces with the back piece, the seat and the 2 arms. The back legs were attached to the back piece and the front legs were a part of the arms. I took some pictures of the process but apparently my memory card wasn’t in the camera properly. But it was pretty simple, thank you Pottery Barn!

The table weighed 135 pounds in the box, so the hardest part was getting the thing to the patio with just the two of us. That didn’t happen. We opened the box in the driveway. I couldn’t push that thing for the life of me. Thankfully, the assembly was even easier than the chairs since we just had to screw the legs on that guy. But we finished putting the table together and seriously 2 minutes later a torrential sun shower came down on us.

Yes, we waited this long to a) find furniture b) get furniture and c) assemble furniture and this is what happens to us?? We were scurrying around trying to get the giant boxes out of the rain and trying to cover my precious new table. My hair was so wet that it looked like I had just taken a shower, but it was in the 90s all weekend so it felt wonderful :) Our table adventures had to wait yet another day.

Thankfully, the rest of the weekend was dry and we could finally enjoy our new patio and furniture!!

We’ve had this giant free-standing umbrella for a few years now. When my brother and sister-in-law bought their patio furniture, they ended up not needing this umbrella and generously gave it to us for when we had a patio. I honestly had no clue what it even looked like until this weekend, but it works very nicely :) Plus it adds some shade until we get a table umbrella.

We’re planning on moving that big umbrella (temporarily anchored with the concrete things from our downspouts) to behind the adirondack chairs we got from Lowe’s last year. Since I handed Pottery Barn my arm and a leg for our table and chairs, we decided to live without a loungey area and to just spruce up the plastic chairs with some new pillows from the ‘Barn.

Once we get our reward points from our Pottery Barn credit card, we are planning on buying an umbrella in this color blue for the table :) Hopefully soon!

We are also very happy that we will have plenty of space for everything we want to do on our patio. It is very hard to visualize these things until you actually put some furniture on it for perspective. Thankfully we planned well (remember our early paint sketches?)

We have 6 chairs and a bench, but I am rather partial to the bench with the two extra chairs hanging around until the table needs to be extended :)

We’re also super excited to report that tomorrow we are having our dead trees and brush removed! See those dead messes up there?

Totally messing with the backyard view. I previously mentioned that we were only going to remove the brush this year and would wait to cut down the dead trees next year to save some dough. But then we learned that a) the price wasn’t as much as I thought I heard and b) if we make the guy come back next year he may charge us more since it makes more sense to get it done in one shot. So we decided it was best to cut down those dead trees now instead of later. I cannot wait to see what it looks like all cleaned up! (We’re keeping the big, healthy trees of course!)

On a slightly unrelated note, we picked up this cooler from Target before we had some family over on Sunday. I liked this one because the handle was positioned more like luggage than the others they had that rolled like a wagon.

More than 48 hours later, in 90 degree weather, with the lid slightly open since yesterday, THIS COOLER STILL HAS ICE IN IT.

It’s kind of like how we just threw away a loaf of bread that was weeks old, but had no mold on it. Or how milk takes weeks to smell these days. How on earth did this ice not melt??? This cooler is some sort of miracle of science….

Something about our patio makes this place feel like home. It is so peaceful and relaxing out there, and we’ve only just begun with our laundry list of plans for the space. It feels good to be ours :)

Hydrangea!

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Posted by Rebecca, May 30th, 2011

Guess who decided to make an appearance for Memorial Day weekend? Hydrangea!

It appears to be a lightish blue/purple and this particular bud is the only one that is showing color so far. But I am so excited that it deserved its own post. I’ve been on hydrangea watch for days!!

I hope you all had a wonderful long weekend (if you had one). I was in love with having 3 straight days off :)

Outdoor To-Do List

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Posted by Rebecca, May 25th, 2011

The weather is still playing mind games with us. There has been a chance of thunderstorms nearly every day this week, which makes it difficult to plan to do anything outside. We have a bunch of projects we want to do, large and small, so I wrote them all down. Since it’s a 3 day weekend (YAY!!!) I figure one of those days has to be nice, or at least portions of those days and the list will save some of the time we normally spend trying to remember what we wanted to do. Here it is, in no particular order. We’ll call it the Spring/Summer 2011 Outdoor To-Do List, because I am in such a creative mood :)

1. Paint garage doors

In a perfect world, I would love to have some craftsman style dark wood doors with square windows at the top. But for now we’ll settle for just painting them the same brown as our shutters and front door. Maybe someday we’ll look into replacing the top panels with some square glass windows.

2. Have brush cleared

This one should be coming very soon, since we already have someone to do it and he said it would be a couple of weeks before they could start. We actually have a decent chunk of land, but the builder didn’t clear all of the logs and sticker bushes and random stuff back there. So we’re having the brush removed and of course, keeping the large trees. Should make for an awesome treehouse someday :) and I’m super anxious to see what our lot actually looks like in its full glory.

3. Stain backyard stairs

We plan to stain these stairs a dark color to compliment the furniture we bought and to bring out the awesome darkness we have going on in the “grain” of our concrete.

It’s funny because from a distance, the patio looks lighter than we wanted. We knew we could always stain it darker so we weren’t that concerned, but on Saturday when we finally stood on it, we saw where those 2 coats of sealer went. And I love it. It looks so realistic and has so much character now :)

4. Add mulch & river rock to garden beds

We need to freshen up our mulch a little and we want to define some edges with river rock.

5. Landscape around patio/walkway

We already planted a lonely hydrangea by the walkway, but we want to make this whole area an inviting garden that will hide the hose, air conditioning units and the awkward outside part of the fireplace.

By the patio, we’ve been saving any extra dirt (or rather, frozen peanut butter type clay) to fill in where the patio drops to make some raised garden beds there.

6. Replace dead plants in front (halfway done!)

These flat things aren’t dead, but I hate them. I’ve been itching to dig them up. I want something with more height to cover the bottom of the garage. So they’re getting kicked to the curb (literally)! Does anyone in the area want them? I’d like to see them find a good home :)

ps- that picture is from a few weeks ago and our grass is nice and green now

7. Install storm door

This picture is from the fall, but I thought I had another one on my memory card and I don’t… and it’s already dark out. But sadly, we want to install a storm door. I say sadly because I know it’s not going to be pretty for the curb appeal and ideally I wouldn’t want one. But we get such an awesome breeze through that front door and on nights like tonight when it’s 83 degrees inside and 75 outside? We could really use it. One of our requirements is to get a brown one with the lowest profile possible, so it won’t look as bad.

8. Pick up that damn pile of wood

I know you guys are probably sick of looking at this mess in our backyard. Believe me, we are too. But we know how time consuming it will be to return it to its former glory, hence the procrastination.

9. Build outdoor kitchen area

I wrote about our plans here. It may happen this year, it may not. We’re going to play the wait and see game.

10. Seed backyard

Pre-patio picture from the last weekend in April, but our grass back there isn’t looking so hot. Especially compared to our neighbors on either side, whose grass is much fuller in the back. We waited to reseed because we want to throw some seed back where the brush is going to be cleared.

11. Add planters and find a bench for the porch

These chairs were always a temporary porch solution and will be relocated to the patio for this year. I’ve been on the lookout for a character filled bench since we moved in. Maybe this year I’ll get lucky? I also want to plant some flowers in some pots we already have.

And because I like to cross things out and this was actually on my handwritten list….

13. Buy patio furniture (done!)

But I should probably change this to “Put patio furniture together” because that hasn’t happened yet :(

Now that I think about it, I should probably make an indoor to-do list incase of inclement weather. Though I’m pretty sure that would just say “paint entryway” 10 times :)

A Not So Formal Living Room

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Posted by Rebecca, May 24th, 2011

I’ve already declared my love of bookcases, but I’ve been scheming some more. Mike and I wanted to add some bookcases to the sitting room portion of our master someday, but lately I’ve been thinking about the giant wall in our formal living room. Yes, the room we never mention because it is completely empty.

I didn’t consider adding bookcases here because of those 2 skinny windows on either side of the room. We actually paid extra for those windows, as everything with new homes is an option. We added every optional window they had. Those two skinny windows are the only windows in the entire house that face that direction. Mowie is very appreciative of the morning light :)

I also thought we’d have to save that longest wall for a couch. Here’s the view from the dining room.

Here is a better view of the windows overlooking our porch.

At the moment, I am thinking of using my master bedroom idea for this room. We need some serious cookbook storage. Yes, we have a million vegetarian cookbooks we’d like to easily access, those count as books, right? :)

Mike and I were thinking of buying some Ikea bookcases. More specifically, maybe some sort of Hemnes combination.

There are a bunch of different sizes and styles we could chose from to make it look more custom. To round off our sitting room, I wanted to add two leather chairs, also from Ikea.

Okay, I’m panicking, they’re not on the Ikea website anymore! I hope they’re not gone! I first spotted them in Katie Bower’s formal living room.

Hopefully Ikea still has them since they were just $199 each. Otherwise this post is foiled. Whamp whamp! But I was thinking of putting them in front of the big double windows, with some bookcases on the large wall. We’re going for the effect that Sandra has in her living room.

But with two skinny windows we’ll manage to work with. Adding some bookcases would give me the opportunity to paint the back of them a fun color like I’ve been dyiiing to do! Here are some of my current favorites from the blogosphere…

John & Sherry of Young House love painted theirs a teal color

Jessie from Cape 27 went with a bright yellow (which is a Target bookcase btw!)

Megan from Honey We’re Home painted her built-ins a soothing blue

Depending on how accessories and what not go, I also like the idea wallpapering or lining the bookcases with fabric to add some more pattern to the room. Here’s an example of a fabric lined bookcase, also from Megan at Honey We’re home.

My fears of not being able to add a couch to this room if we had bookcases were alleviated this week when I spotted this image on Pinterest which is originally from Houzz.

Hey look, you can layer furniture! So even if I have a bookcase against the wall, I can then put a couch in front of that. I didn’t think of that :)

But after looking around, I think I want just a few chairs in this room. We still want to be able to extend our dining room table comfortably and we more than likely won’t be spending a lot of time in this room. The cats love this room though, so we want to keep the upholstered furniture minimal and animal friendly.

We shall see how this works out. Afterall, we should probably finish our entryway project first :)

A Sunny Day

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Posted by Rebecca, May 23rd, 2011

On Saturday the clouds finally parted for long enough for us to work on part of our spruce-up-our-landscaping project. We had some plans in the morning, then we headed straight to a local garden center to load up our car with whatever we could fit. We decided to tackle the front for now and we could only fit enough plants for one side of the front. We planned to go back to pick up a couple more shrubs for the other side, but we ran out of time.

First, I finally got to set foot on our patio!

My shoes were super muddy at one point and I actually walked around the patio. Yes, I did not want to get dirt on my patio. We admired it for a bit, then back to work it was.

The word work is an understatement actually. We have the hardest soil ever. Ever. I’ve never said this before because I’ve never had a house before and have never dug holes in the ground before. I knew I hated doing it last year and that many of our plants and portions of our sod died due to the lack of “hearty” soil (a lawn guy who knocked on our door told me that once). But when a team of concrete guys in business for 30 years told us we had the hardest soil they’ve ever seen, we were like hey! we’re not weak cry babies afterall!

I’d describe this “dirt” as peanut butter that was put in the freezer for 2 years. It probably didn’t help that it rained all week and this stuff was a million pounds. Mike and I always blamed our orange soil on the fact that our house is new and was once a pile of construction muck.

Yes that puddle is the outline of our house. We do live very near the Delaware River, but our concrete guys were local and I’m sure they would know if our clay soil was a result of that. Basically the builder took all of this muck and flattened it, then landscaped it one day. Most of our plant causalities were because the plants never rooted. I literally pulled them out of the ground in the shape of the pots they were planted in. We really wanted to avoid losing any plants because of this, so we also picked up two bags of top soil to try to mix in with our clay. You know, like on the commercial!

The only plant we picked up that wasn’t for the front yard was a hydrangea. Right after I saw the walkway leading onto our patio and the curve it produced, I knew I wanted to plant a hydrangea. We decided to get one on Saturday because I knew it would be a rainy week and hydrangeas require a lot of water to get established (hydra… get it? okay a garden center employee told me that last year). Thankfully, larger plants weren’t so bad to dig because we could use the big, leverage friendly shovel.

Here’s the pretty curve from the other side, complete with baby hydrangea.

We mixed lots of topsoil in with this guy to make sure he gets established. The tag said he’d grow to 3 feet wide, so we tried to make sure he had enough room to fill out that curve nicely.

We eventually plan to make this whole side of the walkway into a garden bed with river rock and mulch, but for now we have a random hydrangea planted in our grass. And it looks like a giant weed.

Here are the hydrangeas we planted early last year, who survived a heat wave and a winter full of blizzards. They are planted underneath our bay window and will hopefully fill in nicely some day. This picture was taken on April 8th.

And on Saturday!

The one on the right has really taken off and is ready to bloom!

Hopefully the backyard hydrangea will do just as well in our clay muck as its buddies.

Okay enough about the hydrangeas, next we added some day lilies to one of the semi-circles we have in our landscaping. I forgot to take a before, but this area had some small shrubs that died last year.

This area has so much potential and it was just lacking the color and fullness of the landscaping on the driveway side of the house. We also decided to take this bush that remained by the walkway (it’s 2 buddies died) and replant it over here in the back.

It still needs some work but it’s looking better already.

Hopefully these day lilies, which are reddish orange, will grow in nice and full like the yellow ones we have on the other side.

Next, we had to fill in these holes left from dead/moved shrubs.

We decided to make this area into a place for some seasonal flowers. We have areas on the other side where we planted some summer flowers and some mums last year, but no where on this side to balance them. We picked up some orangey flowers that resembled wildflowers since Saturday marked 3 years since we lost Sunny. Last year we decided to plant some orange flowers on his anniversary weekend and thought we’d do the same this year as a little way to let him know we haven’t forgotten him. We also picked up some tiny purpley white things.

At this point I was shaking like a leaf. Digging all of those little holes, with a little shovel, in dirt that was insanely hard was literally painful. I would rather dig out large plants than do an ice pick type of move to get these little things in. Plus I could not get them to stay straight for the life of me. The purple ones are closer to the walkway than I wanted since I was sitting and they naturally gravitated that way. When I realized this, it had started to rain on me (which felt wonderful!) and Mike tried to comfort me by telling me we could always pick up another flat of these and plant another row in between the purple ones and the orange ones to even it out. The thought of digging 24 tiny holes again is not appealing.

Then the rain came and it forced us to stop right before I collapsed. Though the weather didn’t let us put our patio furniture together, at least it held off long enough to get some gardening done and give our new plants a nice watering! :)

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