Showing posts with label Backyard. Show all posts

Flattening the Curve(s)

I wasn't sure if I should tippity-type that title or not...I didn't know if it would cause cringing considering the circumstances we all find ourselves in...but then I thought, what the heck.

I mean, it's the perfect title for what we've been up to so how could I not?

Remember when I said we got sidetracked with another project in the middle of painting the outside of our house?  Well, we got really sidetracked.  I'm still feelin' it too.

THIS, is what our backyard looked like when we first moved in:

A large tree stump with a pudgy camellia to the right and a random, non-working light pole to the left.

Pan even more to the left a smidge and you'd see another two tree stumps just hanging out in the middle of the yard.

You can see them just over that short brick wall in this photo, taken at the same time:

Here's what it all looked like two weeks ago:

The Grass Is Greener

…in the backyard.  Whereas before, it was a mix of dirt and weeds that left me feeling blue and the kids, well, brown.  I know, kids and dirt.  They go together like peas in a pea pod and I’m a farm girl, I should know that.  Right.  But I also know that trying to keep the dirt from infiltrating the home by capturing said kids before they traipse inside all while juggling a sweet little angel but very needy babe is not my idea of a good time.

So that’s one reason we laid grass in our back yard last weekend – so that we could let the kids roam free, graze, skip, jump, and holler without hollering ourselves to “please stop digging in the dirt!”  The other reason is one I’ll dive into in another post but for now, some befores.

I took these pictures back in February, I think, when spring was around the corner but not quite here.



Back & Forth

Our girls absolutely love to swing.  They’d eat, sleep, and p-double-o-p swinging if they could.  I imagine it’s a past time most kids share.  Lucky for them, for their first birthday last year Grandpa and Grandma bought them two of these swings.  Unlucky for them, we literally just hung them last week.  We’ve had them stored away in the attic over the winter in hopes that this spring we’d have time to hang them.  The plan was to find a solid branch or two in the front yard and hang them from a tree.  The other part of the plan was to paint them so that 1) they’d sort of match the house a little better since they’d be right in front of it and not detract from curb appeal and 2) so that they were more gender neutral since Sebastian would probably share his sisters’ love of swinging one day.

So, finally and with some spray paint specially made for painting plastic (by Krylon), the swings went from this:

with this:
photo 1 (2)

to this:

As you can see, we ditched the front yard/tree swings idea after a good friend gave us their old swing set.  Now all the fun is in the backyard.  (Side note:  If you’re on the market for some swings and not opposed to a little DIY, check these out.  Our original plan was to make two of them but by the time we could have gotten them done with everything else on our plate, the girls (and boy) would be inhabiting them in high school.  Not cool.)

Unfortunately, I’m not enthused with the spray paint.  Even though it’s made for plastic, it has seemed to easily chip away in areas where plastic meets plastic, like where the safety bar meets the bottom of the seat.  The seat itself however has held up pretty good so far.  It’s withstood a few rainstorms and a week of being outside in the heat.  Time will tell if it’ll hold up for the long haul though.  I’ll keep ya posted. 

I used one can of spray paint per seat and could’ve used more.  I’ve found that as much as I like the way that Krylon sprays in a line vs. a circular spray like Rustoleum and other spray paints, it doesn’t seem to cover as well.  One can would probably have been good enough per swing had I used Rustoleum but since it sprays with a circular spray, it may have been tough to not have the swing look blotchy.

Either way, the kids really don’t care what the swings look like as long as they move. 

And move they do.

Made by Amanda

Y’all know how much I love spray paint, right?  I’ve probably written your eyes off about it already.  So, you can imagine how excited I was when a super-creative, super-artistic, and super-beautiful high school friend of mine posted a picture of this playhouse makeover on her Facebook page:amandaplayhouse2

Here’s what the kiddy abode looked like before:amandaplayhouse
Spray.  Paint.  Love it!

Amanda has two girls (woot, woot!) and definitely revved up the girly factor with some fun feminine spray paint, don’t you think?  I’m smitten!  I’ve been hatching this idea to hunt down two identical fisher price-esque swings on craigslist, spray paint them white, and hang them in the big oak in our front yard and after seeing Amanda’s plastic-meets-spray-paint transformation, I’m even more excited about finding those swings!!

Anyone else taken spray paint to outdoor plastic?  Anyone else going to after seeing this?  Me, me, me!!!

.           .           .

Thank you Amanda for letting me share!


This is a story about a rod iron bench we inherited from our very good friends...actually, we asked if we could have it.  :)  It was sitting unused (missing quite a few slats) in their backyard and they had replaced it with another bench.  Liking the idea of making it the subject of one of our projects and thinking it would look rather nice on our porch (which at the time was bare), we snatched it up and brought it, down the street.  Then starts the project.

First, we broke out all of the remaining, deteriorating slats and got it down to the bare iron.
Then, I'm assuming that by looking at the worn-nature of the iron and knowing me, you can probably guess what came next...
Yep!  Spray paint!  Hammered brown Rustoleum spray paint to be exact.

Here's a great picture showing the difference between what's painted and what's not...I love spray paint!

After it was spray painted, it took temporary residence on our front porch, waiting to be completed.
I know, it looks a little funny without the actual 'bench' part but time got away from us in finishing it.
So on our porch it sat until Anthony came home one day with a thrown out wicker set I quickly took under my wing, which took over the porch and moved our little, unfinished bench to the backyard where it sat unfinished for 5 months...until last weekend.

After quickly measuring the lengths the slats should be and the slots they fit into, we headed to Lowe's Saturday morning to pick up some wood.  We decided to grab pressure-treated wood over other, nicer, unfinished types because, since the bench is outside and will be subject to the sometimes crazy weather of the South, it will last much longer and is made for the great outdoors.  Plus, it was a quarter of the price and wouldn't need to be stained or polyed (pollied?  poly-ed?  whatever, you know what I mean.)  Homeward bound we went with our 4 planks of wood (costing us $12), all set to be cut in half when we got there.

Two sawhorses, a circular saw, a drywall square, an hour, and two beans later...
and we have ourselves a finished bench!  The pressure-treated wood gives it a rustic look that I can't wait to dress up a little with some throw pillows!

Herb update:  The herbs we planted last weekend are sprouting!  We're happy to announce that just because a seed packet says it's seeds are only meant for planting during one season, doesn't mean they won't come up the year after!  Aka...don't throw out extra herb seeds from this year just because they say they'll expire!  Use them next year!  :)  (Disclaimer:  this works for oregano and basil (so far).  We can't speak for other seeds.)

Spring Has Sprung & the Beans Have Begun

Yep, it's here!  The cold weather, bare branches, and brown landscapes are all a thing of the past!  For us it means not only do we (in saying "we" I mean "I") have to start spring cleaning (which of course I'm going to write about since projects are at a minimum...and because I have a rhyme to my spring cleaning reason this year) but also that we get to spend time outside primping, pruning, and planting! 
That's exactly what we did this past Saturday.  We finally had a weekend home (the past three weekends have been spent in hotel rooms) so we took advantage of the gorgeous, 74 degree weather, and went on a date in our very own backyard. 

Here's what we accomplished:

Herbs planted - cilantro, basil, and oregano.  Amazingly enough, the chives we planted last year survived our quite chilly winter, whereas the other three were dead by November.  Not wanting to waste (or spend more moolah), I used the rest of the seeds left over from last year even though on the package it says they're only to be used for the 2010 planting season and expired in November 2010.  Well, using my maybe crazy reasoning, I thought "Well, they're only five months past expiration so I'm gonna give it a whirl."  I let you know how, and if, they grow.  :)  Anyone else have luck with expired seeds? 

We also got on the tomato train again this year and planted tomatoes.  The tomato plants we planted last year turned out so great that we couldn't not do it again!  Except, this year we went with cherry tomatoes.  Not sure why we didn't do that last year but we use those the most and find them more flavorful than the big ones.  One change from last year - I spray painted the pots to add more color to our backyard.  I felt like the gray color they were blended in too much with the gray-green paint on our house.  I contemplated painting them a bright color but then went a safer route and with navy blue to match our chair cushions, thinking I'd add color with flowers.
 Notice the little table between the two chairs in the background?  :)  Well, you see, we have a pile of bricks left to us by the previous owner that just sit near the side of our house and so I had this bright, maybe a little cheesy, but FREE idea to stack some up, place a round stepping stone I found behind our shed on top, and create a little place to host a pot of flowers...just don't have the flowers yet.  :)

So far, our little backyard oasis is coming along.  A big thanks to our hand-me-down patio set (hailing from the houseful of college boys Anthony used to live with), the $5 cushions on the patio chairs I found a few years ago at our old grocery store at the end of summer, the hand-me-down pair of white chairs, the hand-me-down charcoal grill, and various pots soon to be filled with tomatoes, herbs, and flowers.  All we need is some Beller Beef and we'll have our own vacation spot at home!  It's going to be a great summer!

P.S.  That's not all we did in our backyard last weekend.  Find out later this week what other project we finally finished!

Green Thumb Reward

Our first year at being amateur gardeners has paid off and we've had a few scrumptious (and cheap!) meals using our home-grown plants.

This is one of our favorites - caprese.  We used our own ripe, red tomatoes, placed a chunk of yummy, fresh mozzarella cheese on each slice, and then topped them off with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic salt, and our own basil.  Mm, mm!  It's a great appetizer or snack!  A word of advice though, always use a cutting board when cutting the tomatoes and cheese.  A long trip to the Emergency Room last year and several stitches taught my good-lookin' and good-cookin' husband the hard way.  :)

Also sooo good:  Chicken and Pasta with Pesto
After grinding about a cup of basil leaves together with olive oil, garlic salt, and some chopped garlic, we smothered some pesto over some chicken breasts before we cooked them and then threw the rest in some hot, cooked linguine and, oh boy, was it good.

The only draw-back, we used almost all of the basil our little potted plant had produced. 
Luckily it springs back pretty fast and there's still enough for a few sprinkles in another dish or two.  But it did look a little sad.

Anyone else have any delicious dishes you've made using your own, home-grown plants?  I'd love to know! 

Erb Update

Thought you might like to know how my little herbs are doing so I took a snapshot of the cute little things.

We had basil a few nights ago in our tomato sauce and it was good!  I haven't gotten to make anything that I've needed the other herbs yet (I'm not the biggest fan of cooking) but I like to eat the chives raw...they're yummy!  The oregano is so soft and smells so good I'd just love to just stick my nose in it for an afternoon.  Most especially though, I love how the green pairs so well and looks so good with my spray-painted pots.  I'm not saying I'm a pro-gardener, but for my first time growing edible things, I'd say green is a good color for my thumb.  :)  

T to the Matoes

We have two ripe tomatoes ready to be picked and one almost there...finally! 

Both plants have lots of little green tomatoes so it looks like buying tomatoes is no longer a care of the Tobin family!  I never knew it could be this easy!  I've gone from farmer's daughter watching corn grow to growing a potted garden of my own!  I might have to dabble in growing more fruits and veggies next year!  You can be sure I'll probably be asking for some ideas and tips!

Green Thumb Update

So it turns out I might have a green thumb!  Three of the herbs I planted have lots of little shoots coming up and my tomato plants have tripled in size in two weeks!  One even has a flower which will soon be a red, ripe mater!  It's fun watching plants grow!

Spray paint + dirt + herb seeds =

  So if you didn't know how much I love spray paint, you know now and you'll continue to be "in the know" about it.  Spray paint works wonders!  So, we were given some leftover Easter lilies from our church that were used for decoration during Easter week.  Well, I planted the lilies in our yard and had these green pots left.  I'm not a huge fan of hunter green pots so guess what?  Yep, I spray painted them!



And, being on a gardening kick, I bought some herb seeds and planted basil, chives, cilantro, and oregano!  They'll make cute centerpieces on our patio table and yummy herbs to cook with!  I'll keep you updated on how well my growing skills are!

Tomato Plants!

  We love tomatoes.  We love them plain, in pasta, on sandwiches, and we especially love making, we spend a good amount of money buying them.  Well, I saw that at Lowe's you can get a little tomato plant for $3.48 - probably what we spend on them in one trip to the grocery store!  So I bought two 18" pots, two little baby tomato plants, and some potting soil specifically for vegetables, put them all together and wala, by the help of the Lord we will have organic tomatoes in a couple of months!  I'm so excited!

Some planting tips in case you want to plant some "maters":
If you plant your tomatoes in pots, the pots will need to be at least 15" wide at the top rim.  You can plant them in the ground just as well though, as long as you have a sunny spot in mind!  The lady at Lowe's I talked to had been gardening for years and told me to plant them so that 75% of the plant is under the soil because the little hairs along the stems of the plant will grow into roots.  They also need at least 6 hours of sun a day so I made sure I planted them in the sunniest spot in our yard.  As they grow they'll need a wire support system around them so that they can grow up like a vine and be able to hold the weight of the tomatoes that grow.  (I have yet to support mine but I just planted them so I don't have to worry quite yet.)  Also, the condition of the top half-inch of soil will let you know if they need water or not...if it's dry, water them and if not, then don't.  The potting soil I bought has fertilizer in it that is supposed to last 4 months but if you pot them in non-fertilized potting soil, they'll need to be fertilized about every 2 weeks, depending on the fertilizer you use.  Now I'm by far an experienced gardner and we'll see if these two babies yield any fruit so make sure to ask questions when you buy your plant too!  Happy planting!