Archive | October, 2013

Pond Progress {Chapter I}

24 Oct

This is will be a very picture-heavy post, because mostly it’s just Andrew getting dirty in the pond.

{I was working hard, too.  I’m just the only one who stops to take pictures}

Demoing this space requires us to clean it out first, so we began that process by clearing out all of the overgrown plants and weeds.  It was sweaty and smelly work.


{pulling the “protective netting” off of the pond}


{pond demo}


{netting is outta here!}


{the first glimpse of water…}


{making progress}


{pond demo}


{pond demo}

When we got to point shown in the picture above, we let some family friends come over and remove the remaining lily pads for use in their pond.  They were happy to jump in and grab them themselves for free, and we were happy to empty the pond.  Win-win!

Once all the plants were removed, it looked pretty barren:


{cleared out}

Since that picture was taken, the only work I’ve done is to start moving rocks.  Any rock that I’m able to lift/wheelbarrow away I’m piling on the other side of the yard, in an attempt to do this project bits and pieces at a time.  Here’s what it most currently looks like:


{pond – current}

I think the weeds are growing back, dammit.  And it’s more full than ever.  Oh well…like I keep telling myself, “It’s a start!”

And So It Begins.

22 Oct

There’s a pond in our backyard.  It’s huge.  It’s broken.  It’s gross.


{pond – before}


{pond – before}


{pond – before}


{pond – before}


{pond – before}

I’m sure at one point it was pretty, nice to have, and very expensive to install.  A lot of work went into it.  And we’re going to demolish it.

Here are the reasons we don’t want a gigantic pond in our yard:

  1. High maintenance, plus it’s currently broken so we’d have to fix it first
  2. Safety issues with future babies and animals
  3. Space {have I mentioned it’s HUGE?}
  4. Usability — it’s in a great spot of the yard, which could be put to such better use

Andrew and I have decided that it’s going to be our first “big project”.  It’ll take a lot of labor and money to turn it into the space we’re imagining.  But we have a vision, and we’re really excited about it.  Here are some pictures that inspire us:

cambridge pavers

{via Pinterest, originally from Cambridge Pavingstones}

cambridge pavers 2

{via Pinterest, originally from Cambridge Pavingstones}


{via Pinterest, originally from Landscaping Network}


{cell phone photo, from PDX Street of Dreams 2013}

Bear with us as we begin to tackle the pond!

Random Updates

17 Oct

Over the past few months we’ve done some small projects around the house.  Things that haven’t warranted their own post, but have been satisfying to complete.

We changed the light in our master bedroom closet.  Andrew said he didn’t care what it looked like, so I had carte blanch.  Score!  I ended up picking a completely blinged-out girly fixture.  Yay for fancy closets!


{new closet light}

I love how it looks.  I picked the “Eliptic 2-light chrome and crystal flush mount” from Home Depot.  The price was right at only $59.66, and the lighting is definitely sufficient.  I was worried the crystals would cast weird shadows, but they don’t.  It looks way more expensive than it was, and it’s exactly the type of functional-but-pretty light that I was hoping to find.  And despite its sparkliness, Andrew does like it 🙂

We’ve also added a piano to our living room!  My parents promised me my childhood piano long ago, and they were happy to pass it on to us now that we have a house.  It’s been so much fun having a piano again, and of course I’ve been practicing Christmas songs for the upcoming holidays.





 Another addition to the closet happened one day when I was bored.  I had an extra canvas laying around, so I taped a herringbone design to it with painters tape.  Then I painted with acrylics over the top.  I basically just blended the colors of our room together.  Once I peeled the tape away, I was left a with a fun canvas!  I hung it in our closet in my vanity area.


{painters tape on canvas}


{painting over the tape}


{finished canvas!}

That about sums it up!


Refurbished Bench

15 Oct

Our neighbors directly across the street painted their house this summer.  Along with the fresh new paint came a little porch makeover, and all summer I was envious of how put together their front door area looked.  They hung an outdoor art piece, there’s a bright red bench, and blooming flowers.  It looked delightful.

It prompted me to finally address our front porch area.  We inherited a dilapidated bench and a huge ceramic planter with a dead plant…it did not make for a welcoming feeling.  I decided to tackle the bench first.  It was still in good condition, it just looked bad.


{bench – before}


{bench – before}

First I took it apart.  This is where you want to be careful.  Pieces like this that have been together for a while have a tendency to warp all the different parts.  Since I didn’t want to run into problems putting it back together, I made sure to 1) take lots of pictures along the way to reference later on, 2) label all the parts with tape, and 3) kept everything in the same order that it was originally in.  This was extremely helpful at the end when I rebuilt the bench.


{labeling the parts of the bench as I took it apart}


{bench slates}

I sanded the wood slates, taking off years of dirt and grime.  Then I wiped them down and let them thoroughly dry.  When I started spray painting, I taped the ends, since that’s where I had written numbers on them that would keep them in order.  I did two coats on each side, going through 2 cans.  Lastly, I did a coat of clear protective seal on the side that would be facing up.

The iron sides really just needed a good cleaning, but I ended up giving them a coat of paint just for good measure.


{sanding the bench slates}


{cleaning the iron}


{ready to start painting}


{painting done!}

Once everything was dry, I rebuilt the bench.  The only trouble I ran into was the iron support that attached to the back side.  It had warped in the time that it was unattached, and putting it back on was a struggle.  It finally conformed back to the shape of the bench, but not without a lot of muscle power.

Now our front entry looks much more inviting!  I chose red because it pops, and it can be decorated for every season.

bench after

{bench – after}


{bench – after}

Of course, it looks fabulous right now with all the fall decor.

fall bench

{autumn decor}

bench + shoes + pumpkins

{fall decor + leopard print}


bench before-after

{bench – before & after}

Gallery Wall

10 Oct

Gallery walls are more popular than ever.  To help turn our house into a home, we decided we needed pictures, and that a gallery wall would be perfect on one of our living room walls.

After gathering all of the picture frames we wanted to use, we decided that we didn’t have enough.  So we hightailed it over to Michael’s, where all their frames were 40% off.  Plus the additional 20% coupon from my phone app, we ended up buying 8 frames for about $10 a piece.  It was definitely worth it.

Now that we had all the frames, we laid them out on the floor in front of the wall, and played around with different configurations.  You’ll quickly learn what you like and don’t like.  We didn’t want anything to be centered or the focal point, and we tried to mix the sizes and patterns around evenly.  Also keep in mind wall obstacles, like our thermostat.  I was able to convince Andrew to frame it, so that it would blend with the rest of the wall.  He eventually caved, and we had a plan:


{gallery wall layout}

The tricky part is transferring your layout from the floor to the wall.  I would suggest trying to make some straight lines within your layout, so that you can start hanging your frames along those lines.  Here are the straight lines in our gallery wall:

Gallery wall lines

{hanging your gallery wall}

Once we hung the frames that made-up those straight lines, it was easy to fill-in the remainder.  Also, your design will inevitably change as you start to see it take shape hanging-up.  You can see a few differences between the layout above and below.


{gallery wall}


{framed thermostat}

We stuck sticky notes on the frames with the type of picture that we wanted to frame, so that we knew what size to print when we ordered them.  Now that the frames are full, here’s our finished result:


{gallery wall}

If we’re being completely honest…I’m not thrilled with it…yet.  I don’t like all the pictures, I think it’s too busy looking.  Plus, since we’re a family of two, we’re feeling kinda weird about so many couple pictures.  I count 7 total…too much Andrew & Brittney for me!  We’re planning to replace a lot of the pictures with artwork and vacation memorabilia.  But for now, it works.


Kitchen Chalkboard

8 Oct

There was a big green wall in our kitchen.  It was the side of one of the cabinets, and it faces the family room.


{blank wall}


{blank wall on the side of the kitchen}

Painted the same green color as the rest of the kitchen cabinets, it really wasn’t a big deal.  But we decided to put it to better use.

Pinterest is exploding with chalkboard paint ideas nowadays.  I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, so it was a natural fit.  We have a blank/ugly green wall = chalkboard.

{By the way, my favorite chalkboard-themed blog is Little Baby Garvin…artsy chalkboards + cute baby!  What more could you ask for?}

But of course we didn’t just slap up some paint and call it good.  That would be too easy.  Not only did we go the chalkboard route, but we also put down a coat of magnet paint first.


{magnet + chalk paint}

I’ve never used magnet paint before, but had read reviews from people that had.  I have to say…I had higher expectations than the reality.  While it does work, in the sense that magnets stick to it, it’s not strong.  If you have little fingers grabbing things, it definitely won’t withstand that.  Magnets can be pulled off with the slightest movement {at least this is our experience.  It may have something to do with the fact that we didn’t get it shook before we left Home Depot, which the can recommends.  However, after 2 coats, I went back the next day and had it shook.  4 more coats later, we have what we have}.

However, the chalkboard paint is amazing!  We put on 2 coats, and it’s working just fine.  After the painting was complete, we framed the wall with thin molding we picked-up at Home Depot.  We had a lip to deal with around the edge of the wall, and this molding perfectly fit around the edge.  Maybe it’s a common measurement?




{painting done! 6 layers of magnetic paint + 2 layers of chalk paint}


{adding molding around the frame}




{construction done}

Once we glued + nailed the molding, we simply painted it the same color as the cabinets.  We’re going for the built-in look.

Remember to texture your chalkboard wall before using it!  Then just wipe it away, and you’re good to go.


{don’t forget to texture your new chalkboard!}



Finally, we had to accessorize.  In my last post I explained how I created artwork to hang along the top of the wall {yay for free downloadable printable!}.  I just printed them onto scrapbook paper, then put them into frames from Michael’s.  Pretty easy peasy!


{kitchen artwork}

Andrew and I picked-up a calendar from Office Depot…finally a joint calendar!  The OCD control freak in me rejoices.  And is looking forward to color-coded pens.

Next, we needed cubbies to put mail & bills into {since the magnets aren’t exactly stable}.  We browsed the Container Store a couple times {which we have the luxury of doing, since we live across the street from one}, and finally found a system that we both could appreciate.  We bought 2 “letter sorters“, and glued them together.  The whole Stockholm collection would be really easy to “hack” and customize, since they’re just made from fiberboard and paper.  Once they were stuck together, we just screwed it directly into the wall.


{makeshift gluing system}


{chip clips = ultimate diy}

Now the wall looks like this!  I love that we didn’t frame-out the calendar, because now we can draw new frames whenever we feel like it.  I love having an outlet for my doodling.  Plus it’s super helpful to have an organized space for all that paper can accumulate.


{chalkboard wall}


{chalkboard wall}


{chalkboard wall}

I think this project was a big bang for not a lot of buck.  We’re really enjoying it!  {The countdown currently on the chalkboard is for our upcoming vacation :)}

Chalkboard before-after

{before & after}

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