May 30, 2012

#189- All in a (Half) Day's Work

I hope you all had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend.  I was thrilled for my little family of 3.5 to get out of town for the weekend.  We went up to Northern Minnesota and stayed at our family cabin, and it was incredibly relaxing and fun.  We purposely left the house so that we wouldn't be lured into any home improvement projects, and could just enjoy some down time together. It was project-free-fantastic.

We got home at around 3PM on Monday afternoon, and after unpacking the Hubs ran across a sale on our wood flooring at Lumber Liquidators.  Before I knew it, he had made a call to confirm that it was in stock, and was out the door to pick it up before they closed at 4PM.

While he told me that he was just picking it up today so that we "had it," then next thing I know by 4:30 the Loft looked like this:


I mean, I couldn't blame him.  The carpet in this room had always been the worst in the house (well... almost.)

I mean, it was like someone shook up a can of soda laced with permanent ink and let it rip in this room.

So I guess I shouldn't have been shocked when before 5PM he was doing this:

And then this:
Which left us with this:

If you are thinking that this was just a prep day, then my Hubs is about to surprise you too.  Before I knew it staples & nails were pulled, underlayment was down and the wood was starting to fly.  I laid the wood and measured the cuts, while the Hubs ran up and down the steps a thousand times to cut the boards down in the Garage. (Getting out of stair duty is one of the many benefits of human incubating.)   It all went so fast I barely remembered to take any photos, but this one is date stamped 7:27PM:

At 7:54 we have a finished floor:

And by 8:16 the molding is back in:


And forgive the crummy iPhone photo, because at this point we were quickly cleaning up so that we could eat some dinner, but by 9PM we were looking like this:

Over all, not bad for a "project free weekend" huh?  It's funny to me that we didn't even consider doing this project this weekend until about 4PM, and at 9PM the room was complete.  We still have to pick up a better rug for this space, and right now we're thinking something shaggy and white.  The Hallway and Playroom are up next, but considering how quickly this room went, we can knock that out on Saturday. 

So what did you guys do this holiday weekend?  Did you get out of town?  Relax with the family?  Work on any house projects?  I still can't believe we fit in all three.

May 23, 2012

My Rock Garden

Its been absurdly nice weather in Minnesota this year, and I am thrilled one year later to be out of our big project house and outside sacrificing myself to the sun Gods.  Not that it's all flower picking and hammock lounging, (let's face it, I'm borderline incapable of relaxing.)  But getting a nice workout in while making my backyard pretty is my idea of a good time.  So without further ado I bring you the next platform in our crazy backyard retaining wall adventure, which I affectionately call the "Big Daddy Weed Mess."

Not sure what we're looking at here? Big arrows and labels usually help me.

Here's a close up of that mess-o-weeds.  It may not look that bad now, but that's because it's only May.  Some of those weeds got 6 feet tall last year.  I'm not proud of it.

Getting it all cleaned up was like an "I Love the 80's" TV marathon- never ending.  That's because the bed was not only filled with weeds, but rocks.  Lots and lots of rocks.

Picture Indiana Jones' go-to line, but instead of snakes I was all, "Rocks.  I hate rocks."  So began a five day process of rock excavating.

Let me start by saying that yes, I am in my fifth month of pregnancy, but I'm a firm believer in staying active and healthy.  Everyone is different, but for me that means I still run 3-5 miles about 3 times a week, do some sort of cross fit type workout (cardio/lift) twice a week as well as prenatal yoga.  I'm not crazy, or doing anything dangerous like riding my bike or horseback riding, I'm just continuing doing the exercise that I was used to before I got knocked up.  I ran well into my 8th month when I was pregnant with Ryder and I had an incredibly comfortable pregnancy, no back pain, no swollen ankles, etc... I can only hope for such an easy experience this time around.

All that is to say, I did a lot of work on this platform.  Basically it consisted of me scooping shovels full of rocks into a bucket, filling it until it was about half full (so it wasn't too heavy), carrying the bucket over to our fence and dumping it over.  Times a thousand.  (We own the land on the other side of our fence too, so its not like I was dumping it in the neighbor's yard.) I could only do about a dozen reps before I got tired, so I used downtime to watch my little man hit the baseball.  Slowly over the course of a week the area went from this:

To this:

There were a half a dozen nice flowering perennials on the far side of the bed, so I pulled the rocks and weeds around them and laid down weed block to prevent the disaster from returning. 

Some mulch to top it off makes this garden look like the real deal!

I added some extra top soil to the other side of the bed, since I had removed quite a bit in the Big Rock Shakedown, and then planted what will hopefully be my favorite part of the garden, my flower cutting garden. 

Not too impressive now, but hopefully this summer this bed will be abundant with colorful Zinnias.  I've always dreamed of having a Martha Stewart style garden full of fresh flowers that I could pick at my convenience to use in my home and as gifts.  I thought I would start out easy this year with Zinnias as they are pretty hardy and easy to maintain.  If all goes well I can always expand my flower options and plant-able areas in future years.  (Lord knows we have the space.) 

Through the magic of the internet, my dreams are already starting to come true! 

As for the rest of the backyard, its starting to  fill in and look like the real deal.

 I've got a bunch of blooms that look like they are just ready to burst, so hopefully my yard will be filled with bright and happy color soon. 

May 18, 2012

Backyard Clean Up

I've been spending the majority of my DIY time outside lately, tackling the monster that is our backyard retaining wall and its various platforms.  Back at the start of Spring, our main platform (the biggest at about 15' x 40', in the center), was looking a little hung over.


Not that it was much better last summer.  In fact I'm kind of embarrassed to show you this.  We were busy working on the inside of the house and all those hundreds of projects on The List, okay?  Be gentle.

We transplanted some lilies that were in the platform I planned to use as my herb garden, as well as 4 hydrangea bushes that were planted way too crowded in another bed into this main area to help fill it out.  Then I added some fresh new mulch.  Viola!

I can't wait until it all starts to bloom!

The majority of the time has been spent over in our garden platform though. Here are those gorgeous raised beds I made.

But just in front of them and to the right is where I planned my herb garden bed, which is to the right of the steps as I walk up to my garden.  Previously this was full of a few pretty flowers (those 4 lilies) and a bunch of weeds, so I dug out all the plants, hoed through the area to remove roots and rocks, and then added a bit more rich black topsoil. I have a tendency to tell you all this stuff like it was a quick and easy project, but it was no walk in the park.  All in, over the course of 2 days and lots of breaks it probably took me 8 hours of digging, hauling, tilling and filling.  This preggo mama got her work out in. 

The result is pretty boring right now, but hopefully its more impressive this summer.  That's my "ready for herbs" blank space on the left, and a lavender plant that was already in this bed and I kept on the right. 

On the other side of the lavender plant, I saved a couple of flowering plants and covered the rest of the space with weed block and mulch to avoid that mess of weeds coming up under this tree again. 

Once that was cleared out and ready, it was time to take on the Big Daddy above it.

But that's a project for another day.  What have you all been up to?  Any work outside?  Does anyone have any suggestions on things I can do with my lavender plant?  I actually have 3 or 4 of them in my backyard, and it all smells fantastic, I would love to do something more than just look at it. 

May 16, 2012

We've Been Making Some Changes

I have to admit that lately, after 2 bathroom renos in 3 months, a busy job and focusing all my energy on being a great mom to my 3 year old and baby on the way, my favorite house projects are the ones where you can just go purchase something and set it down in your house.  No building, no staining, just purchase and deliver.   That's why after 1 year of saving up, we're finally ready to make some changes to our Living Room.  This is the first room you see when you enter our home, setting the stage for the whole place, and being that its adjacent to the Kitchen, we use it all the time.  

If you don't remember, here's how it looked before:

And here is the very much "in progress" now:


We started with the rug from Ethan Allen.  Originally we went there to see the one from the HGTV Dream Home 2011 that we've been pining over for a year or so.  Once we got there we were convinced by a very helpful designer that with all the white walls and light woodwork in this room, the floor needed to be grounded with a saturated & colorful rug.  These photos don't really do the rug justice.   I think they make the rug look really dark, but in reality the colors are more muted and soft.  


Once the rug was in place it was time to deal with the issue of our loveseat and chair.

 While they may not look bad in the photos, these babies have been with us for 7+ years, and that micro fiber has seen a lot of action.  They were torn, stained and discolored from all the sun this room receives, not to mention that they were a little too small to really fill up this room.  We made a killing off them on Craigslist, and purchased this much more substantial couch in a tan color that has a hint of butter yellow to it.  (Maybe not in these photos, but trust me, it does.)

We're still working on end tables, lamps and other accessories, but I love how the new orange and blue accent colors work with our existing curtains and art.   (Another great suggestion from the geniuses at Ethan Allen.) 

And in place of the chair?  2 scoop back chairs in dust blue velvet give the room more seating and a pop of color.  Although Ethan Allen suggested their gorgeous wingbacks, at $900 a piece they were way out of budget.  These very similar scoop backs from Target were only $139 a piece, and I am madly in love with them.

 Did you catch that new surveyor's lamp in the above photo too?  My hubby fell in love with them when we were at Ethan Allen, but we found this look alike at JCPenny for a fifth of the price.  (Noticing a theme here?)

 The rearranging still left room for our Target slipper chair to move to the other corner of the room, and creating a more full, conversational style seating arrangement.  That armoire in the corner is still going to go, (in fact the Hubs sold it on Craigslist last night!) and will be replaced with a simple console table with a TV mounted above it. 

The center of the room might look pretty empty right now, but that's because we have a new, big ottoman with lots of baby storage room coming to fill up that space.  It should help to start making the room feel more full and warm.

Some more substantial end tables on either side of the couch with some big statement making lamps should cozy it up too.

So its definitely still in progress, but we're coming along.  I'm hoping that when we get all the other items in here (slowly but surely) you guys will be able to better see the vision.  I'm taking it one step at a time though, because man we have a lot to do before the kiddo shows up this fall.  My mantra lately has been "get one thing done every day," even if that one thing is just unpacking a box of baby clothes or going shopping for a pair of pants that will fit me. 

How about you guys?  Any projects at your homes?  Furniture buying?  We've been to a lot of furniture stores lately, but thankfully most have handy little stroller/carts that you can buckle your three year old into so that he doesn't try to jump on all the beds.  True story.

May 9, 2012

Our Next Big Project

What's our next big project?  It's not our staircase, or the wood floors, or painting the cabinets in the kitchen.  It's a much bigger project that we've been working on for some time, and I can't wait to share it with you...

Did you catch the little bump?  The next big project is Baby #2!  We've been brewing this little one for about 17 weeks, and we just found out if our Lil' Man will be having a baby brother or baby sister.  

Want to guess?



We are so thrilled that our active and crazy little guy will soon have a little brother to play with.  (Although he'll have to spend a year or so just cuddling and loving him until he's big enough to wrestle with.)  Ryder originally wanted us to have a girl, because "baby girls are so c-uuute," but he's since warmed to the idea of another little guy to play baseball and Legos with. 

This little bundle is the reason we completed 2 bathroom renos in under 3 months, and plan to take on a couple more dirty and disruptive home projects before he gets here.  We've spent the last year living in a construction zone, but the plan all along was to get as much done as quickly as we could so the house would be *relatively* back to normal by the time we were ready to bring an infant home.  Don't get me wrong, The List is seemingly never ending, and we'll always have work to do on the house, but we'd like to get the big stuff that requires demo and leaves the house a new-mom-panic-inducing-mess out of the way.  So here's to some fun projects ahead in the next 20 weeks or so... including my favorite- the Nursery!