Last Weekend's Project: Landscaping

Last weekend I had a burst of energy and decided I would start landscaping in the front of our house.  Anthony had so much reading to do that he really couldn't help but I decided to go ahead anyway, taking what I've learned from watching him landscape, and revamp some of the beds myself.  Unfortunately, when I was uploading the 'after' pictures I took to show y'all the huge transformation, I accidentally saved them over the 'before' pictures I took.  The transformation was so incredible and I'm so sad I wasn't paying attention to what I was doing but I'll try to describe the scene as it was before my landscaping adventure...and use some old pictures that'll help set the stage.
First of all, down here in the south the popular thing to mulch with is pine straw rather than bark chips or other mulching materials.  For most people, pine trees stand tall in their yards so 'recycling' the pine straw that falls from them is easy and free!  In our case, our good friends have over 8 of them growing in their yard which makes for an abundance of straw.  So, because they love us so much they let me rake their yard Saturday morning.  :)  After getting the 7 1/2 bags home, I started on the landscape bed in front of the brick on our house.  

Here's an older picture showing what it looked like before:
     It's a little hard to see the weeds, leaves, and dirt that made up the bed (directly below the brick and two windows) in this picture but hopefully you get the point.  It was hideous and boring.  The first thing I did was dig out all of the weeds.  Then I dug up and out all of the brick edging.  We're more for no edging, just a clean line between the grass and mulch.  Of course, I had pictures to show the entire process from start to finish but they're in recycle bin heaven.  :(  After I got all of the brick edging out, I took a small, square edged shovel and dug a small trench around the perimeter of the bed so that the mulch would stay in the bed and not wander into the grass.  The extra dirt was thrown on the bed to make a sort of slope away from the house...this keeps water from draining towards your house and foundation.  Taking a break from his studies, Anthony helped me spread the pine straw over the bed and, wallah, we were done...for now.  Plants are next on the agenda but won't be in for another month or so.

Here's our finished, but unplanted bed:
   If we have time, we'd like to add some more 'curves' to the edge but already it looks much, much, much better. 

Now we move to the bed in front of the porch.  While I did this bed, Anthony kept me company by sitting on the porch.  I kept wondering what our neighbors thought...yes, he looked like a slave driver, chilling out while his wife did all the hard work.  :)  Little did they know I was born and raised a farm girl...I might not look it but dynamite comes in small packages you know.  So anyways, I did the same thing to this bed only weeding was much worse.  Here's a picture of what it looked like before (only this picture is older and the weeds had grown in really thick and up to my knees):

So after some sweating and shoveling, here's the new, clean, pretty bed:

Just like the other bed, we still have to get some plants in there.  We're also going to extend this bed around the side of the house and add a tree on the corner so keep in touch.

I'm so bummed all of my 'landscaping tutorial' pictures were deleted but if you have any questions, want landscaping ideas, or want to know how to build a basic landscape bed like ours, please email us and we'll share all we know.  Also, stay tuned for the planting and minor modifications to our beds (and for the story on our FREE wicker furniture).  See you next time! 

P.S.  A BIG thank you to the incredible Johnson family without who's pine straw and love, this post would not have been possible!  :) 

Mirror, Mirror

On the wall...or the table...or the countertop...or wherever your heart desires.  But we'll get to that in a minute.  First, we were handed-down this pretty little mirror.
It's a cute little thing that I decided to display on a wall in our bedroom.  The only issue, it's black and gold...our bedroom is blue and white.  I bet you can guess what comes next...yep, spray paint!

To preface my next spray-painting project, let me just say that (in my area anyway) I see so many mirrors in thrift stores just begging for a little TLC.  Don't be fooled if you see a mirror with an ugly frame...those ugly frames can usually become 'frame-tastic' with a little bit of the magic in a can...spray paint! 
Okay, on to how this mirror-painting project went down. 
I consider myself a pretty lazy efficient person and when it comes to painting the frames surrounding mirrors (or windows for that matter), taping is an extra step I feel is a waste of time.  This is how I do it:

Using the spray paint in a well-ventilated area, our backyard in my case, I sprayed on two thin coats to cover my mirror frame.  Of course, since I didn't tape the mirror off, paint got all over the mirror.  But, not to worry.  After the frame was nice and dry I got out some glass cleaner and a razor blade.  I sprayed enough cleaner to get a thin coat over the entire face of the mirror.  Using the razor blade, I simply 'shaved' the paint right off.  

 For this mirror, it took me about a minute to get all of the paint off.  To tape off the entire mirror would've taken me longer to do and is more tedious (in my humble opinion) since you have to make sure your corners are covering the mirror but not overlapping onto your frame...annoying!  So anyways, here's our 'new mirror' in all her reflective glory!

 Soon-to-be flanked by two identical picture frames (which are still sitting in some thrift store ready to be loved), it's a great addition to our light and airy bedroom and reflects even more light into the space.

Here are some other ways to use mirrors:
1.  As a table centerpiece:  smaller mirrors (or larger, depending on the size of your table) look great lying flat on the center of any dining room or coffee table with flowers in a vase and other decorative items placed on top and around them.
2.  On a bathroom countertop:  they serve as a great way to decorate using pretty perfume bottles or other bathroom-related items - soaps, cute soap bars, a shell or two, some pretty jewelry, candles, etc...  Placing them in a guest bathroom gives a cute space in plain sight on which to place things your guests might need. 
3.  As a memo board:  use erase-board markers on a mirror to write love notes, a schedule for the day, reminders, or welcome notes to visitors.  Hang by the back door, in a guest room, office, or any other space you can think of to get reflection and a notepad in one!

Any other ideas to share?  Have you revamped a mirror and put it to good use?  Show and tell!  Send us an email with pictures showing your creativity at work and be admired on our blog!

On A Pedestal

Last year we saved up enough money to buy ourselves a new high-efficiency washer and dryer.  So, we did a bunch of research on which brands and options were the best for us - keeping our budget in mind, of course.  And since getting a deal is an obligation in this family, we store-shopped until we found the best price.  We ended up buying two Frigidaire beauties at Sears who price-matched a lower price found at another store, plus gave us an extra 10% off the difference.  (We love supporting Sears because of all the material love they give to families in need on Extreme Home Makeover.) 

Everything was great until we started looking at a couple of pedestals to add to the bunch.  Okay...$400 for two metal boxes with a drawer...I don't think so.  If we had the money in our budget...maybe.  But, we didn't.  However, we were told by an unnamed person (the great salesman) that it's pretty easy to build your own if you can't afford to shell out the cash for the pre-made ones.  With the D.I.Y. bell ringing in our ears, we stashed that idea into our brains for later use and made off with our new cleaning machines.  Well it's later and we haven't had the time to build our pedestals yet but I thought I'd write about doing it anyway in case anyone out there wants to try it.  
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This web page gives pretty detailed instructions on how to build two pedestals.  They're open in the front but with a drawer hardware kit and some more lumber, you'd probably be able to put in a drawer pretty easily.  You could also buy a small tension rod and snazzy up your laundry room with a little custom-made curtain to cover the opening.  Of course, you really wouldn't need anything at all and it could just be left open.  Whatever floats your boat!

This eHow article also gives some instructions but with less pictures.

Click here if you're a visual person and you'd like to see a video at on how to make a pedestal.
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If you've found another way to put your machines up on pedestals, let us know!  Once we get to that project (a.k.a. once Anthony is done studying for his Masters') we'd love to have ideas on how to make ours from experienced pedestal builders!

(P.S. If you want a little chuckle and a lesson, read about my detergent deluge.)

A Birthday Dedication

It's my little (but big) brother's birthday and to commemorate his day, I put together clips of his life to a song that he loved growing up.  He was born after three sisters which, as you can guess, put him into quite a predicament sometimes, including some dresses and lipstick (sorry about that Prez).  Nonetheless, he's one of three hunks in the family and I love him! 

Here's to you Preston! 


"Learn from my mistakes."  That's what my mom used to tell me and even though I think sometimes making your own mistakes and learning from them serves up a bigger life lesson, I'm gonna repeat her words to you and say "learn from my mistakes" this time.
Let me begin with a little background information.  A few weeks ago I noticed we were running low on laundry detergent, so naturally, I made my way over to the store to pick up some more.  Walking through the detergent aisle I laid my eyes on Era.  You see, until now, I've never seen Era sold down here in any store so I got really excited!  My mom used to use Era when I was growing up and I loved the smell it left in our laundry room and on my clothes.  Painting pictures in my head of my childhood days, I grabbed it and went on my merry way.  Here's the problem:  we have a high-efficiency washing machine and since I was in another world staring at the Era, I forgot to check to see if it was 'high-efficiency machine detergent'.  Oops!  Well, I noticed it wasn't today when I put in a load of laundry.

Usually you can actually SEE the laundry spinning around and around.

My clothes do smell really good though...after having to run through an extra cycle of just water to get all the suds out.

Lesson:  If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, make sure to use detergent made for he machines to minimize sudsing...either that or make sure you're not in la-la-land while picking out detergent like I was!