Brush garden arbor

So this past week I found inspiration. I had long since had an idea to use some of our wild overgrowth behind our house to build some rustic looking items, perhaps a trellis, etc! But I happened to stumble upon an image of a very lovely arbor built out of logs. Now these were sand blasted and finished, but it inspires me just the same! I wanted rustic- branches with some dead leaves, perhaps dry olive vine wrapped around it, with jute tying the pieces together… I’d move my rose bushes (that like to lean and twist on things, though they aren’t vines) there and guide them through it…
Well…

I did it!


It’s hard to photograph, at least with my cell phone, so I’ll have to try with the real camera sometime soon with an update, perhaps with some images of some other brush projects (other ideas: still thinking trellis, perhaps a bench if I have enough large pieces, a little free library!)
This style isn’t for everyone! But I can’t imagine having a thick wooden structure in my small garden, with lush full plants and not much interference. It would feel like too much to me! But this, this works! And several neighbors who saw me working on it stopped to gush about how much they loved it ❤ have I mentioned I love living here? 

Now I just need to catch up on the weeding I’ve been neglecting! Oops.
Anywho, that’s all for now!

Floors!

The first section of flooring is done! We still have to put on the quarter rounds to block the gaps on the edges (we decided to do this instead of removing and then reapplying the base molding after) but we will do that when all the sections are done.

So this area was the biggest and most complex. It’s part of the original structure and has had walls removed around a central chimney vent, making what is kind of like a large room with some odd walls in the middle. Or two rooms connected on both ends by short “hallway” of like a couple feet? But it’s all pretty open. However lots of little wall ends here there and everywhere made for lots of very particular wood cuts! And of course it can’t all line up right 😂 overall though, much easier than I had anticipated, and Kennedy (3 year old daughter) was happy to only disturb us a few times trying to help- I was impressed!

So here is our baseboards left after we tore up the old carpeting! We picked out flooring that had everything it needed (padding and moisture barrier) attached to the boards, so do note that if you do this yourself you may need to get those and lay it down first!

We started out pretty slow, learning how to piece it all together- we definitely goofed on a few, but we worked together to catch mistakes quick and soon had a good system going

(Early on Mickey was our supervisor… 😉 )

We had minimal tools as newish homeowners with low funds- we borrowed a friends miter saw, used another friends table saw when needed (was too bulky so it stayed at their place and we only used it when absolutely necessary) and beyond that we used hand saws, clamps, and a dremel…. if you have more tools, or at least a more square room, it’ll be much easier for you!

So roger and I took turns measuring and trimming the odd pieces.

Once we got past awkward corners like this one, it flew by and was done fast.

The pieces have grooves that fit together and with a tap click into place. Instead of buying a lot with special tools, roger used a small scrap piece, put the groove into the groove of the board on the floor, and used a regular hammer to tap it all into place. This worked great! Later we borrowed a friends purchased tools and I found our way to even be a bit easier- except when it came to end boards which I will show later!

A close up of the edge of our scrap piece 

Mickey enjoyed the process greatly…

And so did Kennedy!

We were able to pump out this section in one Sunday evening, and I decided I would continue to work on it alone during the weekdays while roger was at work. Kennedy was super good and patient and even helpful, so I figured… lets do this!

So the next day I finished by the front door

Don’t need no man to put down floors! Haha!

Now this part was annoying, but I just did measurements and some quick mockups to make it so the edge of one board lined up at one of the more awkward spots, so there was less specific cutting involved 

Nailed it! Not literally…. these are floating floors 😉

Woo!

So throughout the week I did a few boards here, a few boards there, and had gotten all but the last few rows done by the next weekend. 


I did run into an issue where once we got past th middle wall and had to reconnect with the other room, the boards weren’t lining up exactly. I did them the best I could, and tried to spread out any gaps so they would be tiny, but in a few inconspicuous areas. I will be filling that with laminate flooring glue once we’re completely done. Above  is a picture showing the largest one, which I do believe I managed to reduce even further in the end! I’ll have to update on that when everything is completed 

That weekend we finished the last few rows and used a borrowed table saw to finish up! It’s a dream to clean, and even weeks later I’m adoring it. It feels cleaner and bigger in the house, and Kennedy enjoys being able to roll her toy cars around.
As far as the kitchen section goes, it had a huge raises area in the middle, with about an inch difference on either side, so we had to get a leveling compound and mix it up much like cement, lay it on the areas to provide a raised base. 

^this is behind our fridge, in case you are wondering 

Mickey helped out. 🙄🤷‍♀️
We’re currently waiting for payday since we underestimated the amount of the compound we’d need- come Wednesday we will buy more and lay it, hopefully then we can tackle and punch out the kitchen. I can’t wait to take a picture of our kitchen with the cabinets and counter, paired with the lovely floor! The kitchen I think is the room that’s had the most changes, and with more in planning to come. It’s such a central location for us, since we use the sliding door from the kitchen to the deck. 

After that we will be determining whether or not we have enough wood to also do our laundry room, which will be interesting to say the least! Roger currently had a wrist injury so he is unable to lift, so I’ve been doing the heavy lifting. I don’t think I can do the washer and dryer! 

Oh well. We shall see!
Thanks for dropping in! More to come for sure!

Yard Plans and lead stairs and flooring update

So!

The appointment for checking our house over for lead went well. The guys couldn’t believe this house was as old as it is – its been almost completely remodeled after all (before us). Once they saw the stairs though it was a “oooohhhh I see it now.” moment. They’re definitely the originals hahah!

The lead verdict – as expected, the stairs are positive. However it is ONLY the stairs. Risers, treads, and molding. NOT the bannister which is great, I was hoping to scrape off the layers of paint and fix the bannister up since it has some pretty detailing. So thats still ok! and we needed to replace the treads at least, so its not adding TOO much to just replace the moulding and risers as well. so, probably sometime this summer/fall we will get working on that. In the mean time, I now have a strict stair cleaning regimen to avoid lead dust accumulation and spread in our house.

As for our flooring, we’re setting up times with our friends to work on it likely in the next 2 weeks. We set up string along the floor from side to side, front to back, to see if there are any uneven areas. The kitchen has MAJOR dips on either side, with a raised area in the middle. It’s a substantial difference of about an inch… woah. So there we will be doing something, Likely using a floor leveling compound. The rest of the house (the original structure – kitchen was an old addition) is relatively level, with only 1/4in or so variance, which some people choose to level as well, but we think we are just going to go ahead and put the floor down on it anyway. In case anyone is wondering (haven’t done this before, etc) there is an accepted variance listed with whichever type of flooring you’re doing. If you go outside that you risk the floor wearing and breaking faster, possibly immediately if its too great. the 1in is WAY too much and I can’t imagine that NOT breaking. 1/4-1/2 inch is likely an “over time” problem but not bad. Less than that is fine, for ours. check the packaging of your flooring for this information (we are doing laminate wood). I’m so excited to see our house with some lovely “wood” floors!

Now, on to my flower garden and yard, which has been my focus now that the weather is nice!

So here is the outline/plan of my yard now, basically. the gray up to the top/left is area that is basically unusable due to it being granite ledge

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and next is how I would like to expand our deck, and some slight modifications with walkways, etc!

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and heres my attempt at “drawing” this into a real picture hahahah I should have found a better angle and NOT did a pano, but i think it gives the gist of it….

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For now, I’m simply working on beefing up my flower garden, and clearing out the back of the overgrowth. at some point I need to actually pick out and buy the dwarf tree so it can grow in, but ehh…. Money. I might see if anyone has one they’re getting rid of…. I know i don’t want it to be big, to avoid interference with our power lines (again… since there used to be a big tree there that I mentioned previously. Big mess.) I was thinking of looking for a self-pollinating  dwarf apple cuz I want apples… we shall see!

 

Thats all for today! but hopefully in another couple of weeks I will have another bigger/detailed entry of PUTTING IN OUR FLOORS! woo!

Garden! Plus stairwell redo and carpet removal updates!

Hooray! It’s finally gardening season! Well ok, it’s been gardening season for a month or two supposedly, but since it keeps getting really cold and then raining for a week straight I haven’t been able to actually get out much.
In that time I attempted to keep an aloe plant alive inside… and did so for a month! Fighting with my cats every step of the way! But it finally happened, they got at it and destroyed it, ate the best plant and knocked it off the shelf I had stashed it on, and then of COURSE they vomited it up everywhere, but I digress….

Anywho, the point of that was to lead into this. I wanna have indoor plants- specifically I would love to keep fresh herbs for cooking! But I KNOW my cats and I know they’ll eat them. So I had an idea… using some old jars I had floating around and some of my waxed string from tie dye fun. 
Ta da! 

I whipped it up quick so do ignore the lop sided one and unevenness. I’m just excited to finally have something the cats can’t destroy!!!! Let’s see how long I can keep it alive without the cats to blame, now 😉

And now we finally have sunny days!! To enjoy my perennial garden

I redid our stone steps since they were done pretty poorly by former owner- they were wobbly and unsafe, especially with a 3 year old running around. I also rearranged it a bit- wish I had a good before photo! I’ll have to look and try to add one in later. 

Basically before it went down with less curve and ended up being engulfed by the bottom left bush.

And due to a random early heat wave quickly followed by super cold weather…. I think my clematis is gone 😦 so now I need to replace it because it was supposed to be the “centerpiece” of my nice lil mailbox garden 

^

The back hill is still wildly overgrown, but it’s showing more and more hidden treasures the more overgrowth I cut back! Like the Solomon seal and lilacs of course 🙂

Below is a top view of my property- white outline is property, plus white around house, shed, deck, and driveway. Pink in front was my main focus previously. Black is current focus, while I continue to toy with orange as my daughters future play area, and slowly clear brush and debris from blue and green.

Front pano of yard ^^

Pic as of mid may of main garden below

And look at this cute baby red bellied snake I found while weeding!!! He’s adorable


Here’s a glimpse of what my front garden looked like around April 2 years ago- not the same angle I usually use but still… big difference, huh? I’m proud!


And here’s a before and after (before bottom, after top) of the corner of my yard that will one day be my daughters space. ClEaned up a bit but definitely not done! This is taken the same day 2 years apart around April. I should take a pic now, it looks even better just a couple months later!

That’s about it for gardening right now, it’s always an ongoing project!

As for my stairwell, we had to put it on hold due to high lead levels 😦 they come by in a couple of days to give us a more accurate screening and tell us where exactly it’s located (if it’s in trim, on the raisers, all of it…) and we’ll determine what we’re going to do then.

Oh. And also…. 

We tore up all the carpet on the ground floor! Wooo! Next step putting in our laminate wood 🙂 we’re making plans for later this month hopefully? If not then, definitely July! 

Enjoy these pics of the subflooring under the carpet of our living room… ew

Ugliest tile remnant I’ve ever seen ^

They painted stuff on it, so this is what most of it looks like…

Fun…! 

That’s about all for now… excited to get those floors in! Will update once we find out more!

Fake a built in kitchen Bench

Wanna fake a lovely built in bench for your dining room or kitchen?

I had a strange epiphany while I was trying to figure out how to have a built in without blocking my baseboard heating in the same area…. a coffee table. I had a very wide, but rather ugly coffee table that I had acquired to hold an old fish tank. I had since upgraded my fish tank and it now had its own stand, so no need for this junky old coffee table I found at goodwill for $25. It hit me that it was the perfect height to sit on, and that it was the perfect width to fit under the double windows where I wanted my built in bench to go. Now, in the future I want to have a back on it, but for now… why the heck not??

So I did some measurements for the width and depth for some cushion making! You could also just purchase some cushions, but I enjoy crafts so Why not save a few bucks? Our kitchen has a red/burgandy theme going on, so I found some clearance faux leather with some… sort of suede-y parts on it? I’m not sure what the fabric is considered, I just went on a fabric-touching spree, and this was the winner!

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I decided not to put any zippers, but its easy enough to do if thats what you want. I just whipped them up real quick, nothing fancy and certainly not award winning or anything close to it.

I also grabbed three pillows and some soft, fuzzy cream fabric to tie into our cream cabinets. I needed some nice fluffy pillows since the bench had no back, so you’d be leaning back and hitting the window sill.. ouch.

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above is a picture of the cushions – some creases since I got lazy and didn’t iron them first… whoops. But still. Loving it!

Going to be honest… i still haven’t finished the cushions. I got distracted. BUT! I will finish them and update this spring! It’s on my list so I don’t forget. They’re currently uncovered but still sitting by our table.

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Did I mention… its toddler and kitty approved?

Compost Bin

I saw SO MANY neat pinterest things about a compost bin… and I threw together a piece of crap. But you know what? IT WORKS.

As a stay at home mom who is trying to get her own business going, I’m pretty busy. I also have LOTS of hobbies that take a lot of my time. So, I knew perfectly well that I was not going to be doing hot composting. Flipping and rotating it, and making sure to put in a certain amount of “hot” items as well as plant debris, etc… yeah, I knew that wasn’t for me.

I decided that I was going with cold compost… which is basically just throwing all of your compost and letting it sit. No cares, no worries. But it takes longer- with hot compost you could have good fertilizer for your garden within months (if that)… and cold compost takes a year if not more to break down enough to be like a soil, a good fertilizer for plants.

For me, I simply acquired two extra long pallets (you could do different sizes, or go with 4 regular sized ones, etc). I decided to build it onto the back of my shed, which is already hidden behind my house, so I really couldn’t care less if its ugly! I cut one of the long pallets in half (so it was the size of two regular pallets). I put the two small ones sticking out from my shed, and the long one along the front. Tada! I left the bottom open to the dirt, so that bugs and worms could get in and help speed up the decomposition. I intended to eventually put some sort of a top on it to keep out any larger animals, but so far I haven’t gotten around to it (and i haven’t really needed it, thankfully!)

 

Its easy to do, cuts back on the trash we throw away (and PAY to throw away… Gah.) and hey, a little extra fertilizer for the garden is never a bad thing!!

I’m a goof and somehow don’t have ANY pictures of it directly.. I swear I do somewhere, but alas, this was all I could find… Behind my daughter (who is climbing up THE steepest part of this hill… what a mountain goat.) is the shed, and the pallets are my compost bin.

 

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Just to show you how cheap and easy it can be to have compost!

 

Also, just to address a concern I hear very often… compost truly doesn’t stink. I can barely ever smell anything, and I have to be RIGHT beside it, deliberately sniffing. And I throw everything in there. My neighbors are close (as you can see) and on another side they are RIGHT beside me. We keep a small composting bucket right by our door for when we don’t feel like walking behind the house to the bin, and that one we do keep shut, but even then we smell nothing. I would have zero concerns, even with houses right on top of another, about smell being a disturbance. But if you are really concerned, don’t let it stop you! Simply consider being more selective in what items you put in the compost. I’ve read that you can avoid meats and dairy, since they tend to cause more smell. Again, I’ve disposed of EVERYTHING that could possibly be composted in my pile, and never had any smell. But perhaps if you use a lot, and dispose of a lot of it too, then it might get a smell. So, in that case, Simply avoid the items that tend to cause more smell! I think anyone can compost!

In this case, the project costed us nothing. Even if you have to buy your own wood and screws and screwdriver, this is a very inexpensive project, that saves you money in the long run.

 

Do it! Dive in!

Garden

One of the thing advertised in our house’s description when we first saw it, was that it was professionally landscaped. I hadn’t been concerned about having any landscaping in our new home, but I thought it certainly couldn’t hurt, since I had intended to delve into gardening wherever we went. Why not start fresh with a pre-done garden and just maintain?

not so simple, ha!

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^here’s the before shot… even here, if you look at the foreground you can see lots of grass mixed in with the remains of the day lilies (in future pictures you’ll see them – the orange flowers) and there was lots more. She did most of her work on the far side of the garden, as you can see with the quite lovely stone work. Definitely a good base to start with.

The person who owned the house before us, and who was fixing it up to resell for a profit (flipping), was the landscaper. I’m not sure if she always does gardens like she did this or if its just because it was HER house and a flip project that would be out of her hands soon, but … it wasn’t well done, in my opinion. She didn’t appear to have removed any weeds. It looked like she had simply put down a liner, put some mulch on top, planted the plants, called it a day. She didn’t touch some areas. She lined it with some rocks , and built in some lovely tiered garden walls with stone, but they’re fragile and have already started falling apart no matter how hard I try to put it all back (nothing is touching them, my daughter is too young and the neighbors are very respectful and don’t go in the yard, but every so often I’ll find a stone or three has fallen off or tipped simply from the elements I presume. They’re wobbly and unsteady as it is, too.) since they have no reinforcement anywhere. I quickly discovered the un-removed weeds since suddenly in the spring they all shot up, and my garden was almost all grass. Hint: those barriers you use to stop weeds have to have a lot of dirt and even rocks over them to truly stop the weeds from busting through. I feel its much easier to simply do a GOOD extensive weeding, personally.

I decided to do the job like that, the way i prefer – the hard way first, so maintenance would be easy. Work smarter, not harder. Do it right first and you’ll have no problems later, easy! I dug into the ground and ripped up all the roots i could find that didn’t belong to a plant I was keeping. It worked GREAT! It didn’t even take that long, truly. I’d spend an hour here, an hour there over the summer really digging in, and the next year not a lot came up at all! Whatever I saw I quickly pulled up, and it resulted in simply a few minutes  week of maintenance. It ended up even transforming from being work into something cathartic (which I totally needed since I was still battling some post-partum depression)

I’ve also continued adding to it. I want a lush, cottage style garden, full to the brim and almost “Wild” in its beauty. In the front I have almost achieved this, I think! Perhaps this summer… we’ll see!

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This was before my big dig in on this side. You can still see some of the weeds mixed in, though thankfully the beauty of the other flowers hides it from those who don’t know as much about plants.

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Early on I even had a little helper! This was one of many future gardening shots as you’ll see soon…

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I was determined to tackle it perfectly the following season! So I prepped by making sure to rake it all up perfectly clean, and mulch before the winter so that I would be starting pretty fresh come Spring. I wasn’t able to cover the whole garden since we didn’t have the money for all the mulch we would need, but it was enough and I promised myself… next spring I would finish!

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The next spring I got back to work – the pile of leaves and debris towards the front is the remains from last year that I had forgotten to put in the compost… whoops… at least it was covered by snow most of the time!

 

Then I started digging in, removing the weeds from the roots, and afterwards putting the rest new mulch down for the year. Look at how sparse it looks… that was ALL WEEDS! Well, this was also taken in the spring. It did fill out a bit more after.Notice the slightly different color of mulch from the previous year… whoops! I also didn’t finish the furthest part at this point

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above is a quick glimpse at an area that had previously been covered with grass and other weeds between the flowers

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^ I shared this photo on my Facebook in 2016. 1 year apart… notice in the first one how you can see sprigs of grass popping into the frame, and all the leaves. Cleaning it up and remulching fixed so much! still not perfect, but I’m loving it. Cant wait to start again this year!

 

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An early summer picture, still has weeds but darn… it filled out so well! I can’t wait to see all these flowers again!

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This was one of the last pictures I took of my garden at the end of last summer, 2015. It’s really filled in, and though there are still some patches that have some weed issues, I’m hoping to finish wiping that out this year. I also want to really focus on the far side, and trying to hide the unsightly stump (see below, and also previous entry about tree removal)

this picture is another earlier one, from the spring–

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Here you can see the remaining stump from the tree incident. You can also see the stone walkway, and how that kind of marks where my weeding stopped. Whoops. I ended up getting very busy last summer, so I put my gardening to the side for a while. This year’s goal is to finish off that area so that I can simply maintain from here on out. We also removed the random bush beside our house – it was a very gangly rhododendron that never flowered due to poor lighting. In the meantime we planted some Yucca along the side to help hide the unsightly cement foundation as they fill in. Future plans include flipping the front deck around (well… we’d rebuild it.) so the “landing” would be over the door to our basement (the black bit near my daughter in the picture) and steps would end right around the side of the house, and make a stone walkway going up beside the big stump. We’d extend the garden to that point. Possibly bring that part of deck to attach to the side porch if possible, but code requirements may prevent that from happening (the road might be too close for it to meet).

Also, just out of sight in that last picture, behind our house, is this shed below. We are clearing out the AWFUL AWFUL japanese knotweed that has taken over there. I’ve been ATTACKING it every single year, ripping up the roots as best I can. I have certainly cut it back significantly, but I’ve got more work to do. I’m not sure what I intend to do there… I’d like to simply have some grass. We shall see!

Here’s how it looked at the end of last summer, with the remains of dead knotweed EVERYWHERE.

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thats a decent little space, hidden away and unusable. Must remedy this!

clearing brush and cutting down tree remains

Did I mention the time a storm took down the tree we had planned on removing in a couple months… JUST after we bought the house, and THE DAY AFTER my daughter was born? Leaving us with no power and no heat after a final april snow storm (thats maine for ya) with our newborn? Well, consider yourself told!

It was an incredibly awful thing to come home to a cold house, and debris from a downed tree in front of our yard. We were later told that firemen had to come out and they chopped up what they could of the tree to remove it from the road (when we got home it was in our front yard, pushed out of the way) and that there was sparking power lines in the road. our home and the ones just next to us had the power lines ripped completely off of our houses (expensive fix, let me tell you…) and the house across the street lost their cable services for a time but kept their power.

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ta da! April 14th, 2014. The last snow of the season, just after a big wind storm that took out the tree we already had plans to remove (since i suspected it was rotting inside-out. I was right…)

It left a large bit of tree “stump” behind. For this job, we called in my dad… hahah! He’s our handyman, who sadly doesn’t live nearby, so we try to only call him in when absolutely necessary. But since we don’t own a chainsaw and have no experienced with them, meanwhile my dad has taken down many trees, we figured this was a good one.

There isn’t much to this story – We cut it down as best we could, and our next task which we haven’t started yet, is either grinding down the remaining stump, or using stump removal chemicals. We will likely try chemicals since we simply do not have the funds to spend on stump removal… and this is one heck of a large one! But we’re in no rush.

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^ the man at work! In the end we had plenty of firewood for our fire pit- yeah!

 

This did inspire me to go ahead and start clearing the brush behind our house, though! I wanted to clear off the hill to give the feeling of a larger space, since the lot is smaller, and mostly unusable. I figured if i clear it out, I can build some tiered garden beds for vegetables and at least have it be functional. Its still a work in progress, but here are some pictures of the process so far!

 

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^This is a before photo from Zillow, taken the summer before we bought the house. As you can see, this hill is quite overgrown and covered in trees and brush. I took a look our first summer, and found much of it was hugely overgrown lilac bushes. I tackled those first, pruning them back significantly. When trimming back lilacs, you might not see flowers the following year unless you are selective and spread the process out over a couple years. In our case, I wasn’t concerned about getting flowers or not the next year, so I chopped them all back. As expected, I got very few flowers the next year, but they popped back!

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The results of the first trim ^ I let them dry out, and eventually burned them. I also removed some seriously overgrown hosta. Apparently a former owner used to have a large flower garden on the hill, but it had gotten overgrown and hidden. I wonder what gems are hiding here?

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here’s a picture of how it looked after i pruned some of the bushes back. This isn’t even as far back as I’d like to trim them, but I was exhausted! For a time we had that giant pile of branches while we waited and burned them. To the right you can see the granite ledge just by our house. That became my next project. Using the pile of stones left by the former landscaper owner, I started to create the tiered gardens I was hoping for.

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One of the first ones I made is above. Nothing special, I was using rocks I had found on the property – if I had it my way, I’d do the nice flat stones, or slate, like the front garden has… but alas, those cost money… and I’m lucky enough to have a property full of old gardening stuff, and many loose rocks!

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they’re nothing special currently, and I want a lot more depth! but its a start! I intend to make them deeper, and layer more on top of the ledge as well. I hope to make garden stairs going up the slightly less steep area that you can see to the left of my daughter in the first picture, that is currently a mess of brush.

To be continued this summer, so keep stopping in to see more 🙂

Post mounted mailbox

When we first moved into our house, It had a black wall-mounted mailbox that was awkwardly attached to the banister of the deck (if you look at the picture below, you can catch a glimpse of it just beyond my husband’s head, next to the top of the mailbox post).

The mailman mentioned to us that eventually this neighborhood would become a drive-only route and they would ask everyone to move to post mounted mailboxes off of the road – which we preferred anyway. It was something I admired often on pinterest, these lovely road-side post mounted mailboxes with gardens around them and beautiful street number signs, etc…! So I was not upset and we moved this plan to the forefront. Plus, to get your mail you have to always have an unobstructed path to the mailbox, and it was a lot of work to shovel an extra little path to the mailbox in our Maine winter. This removed that necessity.

This was done around May of 2015.

Since we’re quite low-budget folks, we didn’t go for anything fancy. We didn’t go with the cheapest post, opting to go one up and get the cedar one since it wasn’t substantially more, and we loved the coloring. We went with a simple black mailbox to go with it. We also picked up some cement. We borrowed a post hole digger from the in laws, and got to work! Living in a super rocky area (our house is built into a granite ledge) we figured it wouldn’t be easy, but just off the road wasn’t awful. with a little work we were able to dig down plenty to meet the measurements set by the USPS. Make sure to always check what the measurements are! The height, distance from the street, etc, all matter!

Anyway! After the hole was dug and measurements were quadruple checked, we went ahead and mixed the cement, then poured it in around the post in the hole. We didn’t fill the hole, leaving several inches on top.

Once it was dried, we went ahead and covered it with dirt.

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Once it was in, we thought hard on what we wanted to do for our street number. At first I wanted to hang a little sign with the number “3” (our street number) on it… but we realized one of the biggest issues with our road is that many people get confused and think they are on a different road. I decided whatever we did, it MUST clearly state our full street address, to avoid confusion. With that in mind, I decided to contact a neighbor who does vinyl decal work. She said she would do it! and for a great price, so how could I not? I was hoping for a decorative decal with our last initial on it (“R”) and our address below it. When she made it to size, she felt it was too small, so she remade it at no extra cost (and let me have the smaller one… wow! Thank you!) so I ended up with two to work with. I put the extra large one on the side facing oncoming traffic, and put my smaller pretty one facing the rest of the neighborhood as they drive by to leave.

 

I took this opportunity to work on the garden a bit. I hope to eventually turn the area right around the mailbox into a little garden, and beyond that (which had been turned into MORE driveway by the previous owner… we have enough to fit 4 cars comfortably if we use that…) into grass, since we have very little non-ledge space to turn into a grassy yard for my daughter to play in. It will only be a 8x15ft space, but I thought it would be nice to have even a little. That is still a work in progress to this day, so you’ll see more of that fight to come! I started in the photo above with moving some rocks to line the area (and line what will be the edge of our driveway – which is partially paved currently, the rest is loose stone)

 

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Above you can see the very start of the flowers! I purchased a small trellis that I thought would work great behind our mailbox. It’s actually made of vinyl, but the color it was painted matched the wood of our mailbox almost perfectly, so I went ahead and got it (can’t beat that for a few bucks!) and quickly went to get some clematis! We picked out Clematis “Ernest Markham”, which we felt was the closest to a true red we could find (since my garden is heavy in many colors, but lacking in true red) We haven’t gotten a full bloom yet, but I’m hoping this coming summer we will see it! Sometimes it takes a year or two for a small clematis like this one to give its first bloom.

Anyway! I knew this location would be hard for a clematis – they like full sun on their flowers, which this area could easily achieve, but they prefer roots to be shaded. As you can see above, with little else around it didn’t get much shade beyond the bit provided by the post of the mailbox. That in mind, I decided to look for a ground cover, perhaps a decorative grass. I had established a local garden plant swap group, and went to it seeking such.

And came back with this!

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This picture doesn’t show it well, since it had just been planted and was looking a bit rough from the transplant. It has since filled out and grown back strong! We’re also in this photo just starting to try to bring grass back to the area beyond it, though I will need to layer on more new soil and grass seed (the person previous did a good job of packing it down with loose stone for a driveway… unfortunately)

 

I will definitely be making some more posts about the garden around my mailbox and the grass growing in the future, likely along with other gardening-related posts. So keep your eyes peeled and check back ❤

 

Ta ta for now!

 

 

Replacing Kitchen Windows and Door

in 2015 we decided to use our larger than usual tax return (since it was our first year after purchasing our home) to fix some of the issues we had been noticing. We decided first to replace the windows in the kitchen – they were a large double window that still had the original wood, one of only two windows in the whole home that hadn’t yet been replaced. The other window is a custom window in the bathroom that we have been putting off due to the cost it will likely be… eek. Someday!

We decided to also get rid of the door, which opened into the room in an odd way in our opinion, and had no screen door (and no matter what we did, we couldn’t find one that would properly fit!) which drove me nuts since we have two indoor cats. I wanted to be able to open the door and let air in during the nice summer months. we had also noticed during the previous summer an increasing ant problem – we didn’t know it was related to the door, but during the process we would discover its connection.

[[dear friends- from this point on my shift key randomly stopped working… so excuse my unusual typing… lack of exclamation points, lowercase typing for the most part except when it decides to work… hopefully i’ll get a new keyboard shortly. oi.]]

this was not a diy project, so I’m sorry to say I have no real details. the project cost about $1800 with labor and materials. We decided to hire out because we knew this would be hard with our house – it is VERY crooked and old, and we knew the owners had installed this door with who knows how many issues. In the end we’re very glad we did, because we found many issues from a previous owner’s diy door.  not only was the door not sealed in [hence the ant problem. they had easy access in and out], but they had left no room for the wood to expand and contract- the wood frame of the door had been jammed in and it was a struggle to remove it.

putting in the new door was pretty painless, though it took a lot to make sure it was level [since it was a sliding door, this was a bit of an important factor i guess]. and we did have an issue with the lock not lining up after a few weeks, but since we went through lowes for the installation, they came to fix it free of charge. we loved the guys who came to install it and have seen them for some of our future projects as well. if the cost doesn’t deter you, i highly recommend it.

here are some pictures from the project

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unfortunately above is the only before picture i have for a ‘before’… and it doesn’t show the windows which were off to the right [you can barely see the edge of the trim for them]. but the windows didntl look terribly different from far away anyway. they were wood, however, and old.. and drafty. the door is where the big visual differences come in.

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heres a picture from the process… how strange it is to simply have nothing but a hole in your wall. haha

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^ here are the new windows – much better insulated, and much easier to use, too.

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^and better yet… our new doors. they let in more light, slide open so it doesn’t use kitchen space to open [which we really hated before] and it has a working screen… thank goodness.

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baby approved….

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and kitty approved

we have yet to actually paint the trim, which we really should do… but we’ve been putting off a kitchen repaint in which i thought we would simply paint it all at once.  perhaps some day i’ll get off my bum and do that 😉

thats all for now… have a few more ‘old’ projects i will be sharing before i catch up to myself. see you soon