One of the reasons I fell in love with this house is the huge amount of outdoor space. All three stories of my new home have an outdoor sitting area. My last house always had outdoor space on the to do list but it never got done (though I hear my buyer is having fun with a fire pit).
On the first floor, just off the kitchen we have a small deck with stairs down to our yard. We’ve already added some outdoor lighting and some small decorations but we’ve always got bigger plans. I want to redo the path out here, conceal the AC, attach both rain barrels and eventually upgrade the deck furniture here.
We have an interesting kind of garage called a California carport. It means we have off-street parking with a garage door off the alley but no walls. We can add walls later if we want but right now this is working for us. It’s very common in this part of the city and it makes our tiny yard feel bigger.
The old blue chairs and DIY pillows made the trip with us. We’ve just added a new friend for them.
The grill is a new addition thanks to Amazon’s Prime Deals Day. I’m not sure if this was part of the sale but I’d been stalking it for about 4 months and when I saw the markdown of $30 I jumped on it. I also was glad that it was delivered to our house rather than hauling this beast in my car and up stairs. We debated which deck to put the grill on but the 1st floor won due to kitchen convenience, the lack of desire to haul it up to the third floor, and wanting to protect it from the elements.
We have another deck on the 2nd floor, just outside the master suite. On nice days you can sit out here and just relax.
I put the potting bench up here because I’m envisioning lots of flowers everywhere. I saw all these beautiful balconies in France just full of flowers cascading and that’s my long-term goal. I’ll buy a couple of planters a year and by the time I’m an old lady my vision will be complete. The chair set is from Target, pillows and potting bench from World Market, and the rug is from Overstock.
Our third story deck is one of the biggest selling points the home had and it also has the fewest photos. I haven’t made any progress on it except to sunbathe with a book and a drink. The photos I have are from December when I bought the house.
It’s hard to see on the camera shot above but you can see the downtown St. Louis skyline including the Arch from up here. We were more focused on showing off our themed shirts for our new neighborhood than capturing the view but here’s a more recent shot.
The minute I saw this view I was sold. Thankfully all the other details eventually came together. The house is really gorgeous outside but we still have a lot to do before we have our first rooftop party. My big plan is to stalk the end-of-season sales happening now to help fill in the rest of the gaps outdoors. Be sure to let me know if you want in on the guest list.
When we last left off, my planters looked like this:
I was making these planters for my mom and my husband’s mom and I wanted each planter to reflect a gift I was giving them with the planter. For my mother-in-law, I had found a ceramic piece highlighting her Irish heritage I wanted to hang from the planter. My husband had some ideas on how to make the planter look perfect for his mom.
We attached spindles to the planter and placed finials on top for a decorative accent. I cut down the edges of a cedar picket with a jigsaw the give the plaque a more decorative look. You can see that I attached the spindles to the base I installed to hold the plants inside.
I then painted the planter white (do not use spray paint, trust me on this) and added a stenciled phrase and a hook. Here’s the final look of the planter we delivered to my mother-in-law:
For my mom, I know she loves hummingbirds and I had luck finding a beautiful garden piece at one of my favorite local shops (The White Hare) with some hummingbirds on it. I wanted to mount it to the planter. I used a deck post and finial and screwed them into the planter base. I found a gorgeous hook at Lowe’s that could support the weight of the feature piece.
Now you might be wondering how these planters can hold plants. You’ll want to have something more than just your 17″ 1x2s in each planter holding them up. I used some garden fabric and a staple gun to make a nice base. Once attached, you can pour your potting soil right in and plant some flowers in the nice sturdy base you’ve just made.
My brother bought my mom the flowers for this planter. Once we had it all together, my mom’s planter looked like this:
These two planters were my first real woodworking project. It was great to know I could build one of the many Ana White plans and even more exciting to see that I was able to make each planter match the personality and decorating style of my mom and my mother-in-law. I’m a little nervous that they will expect me to top this next year though.Pin It
We’re a month out from Mother’s Day but I wanted to share my Mother’s Day gifts with you all. Like many other people online, I love to follow Ana White. I remember following her when she still called her site Knock Off Wood and just showed plans that copied the look from high-end furniture stores. She has since diversified and has plans ranging from basic to advanced, indoor to outdoor. Her plans were always a bit of a dream for me since I’ve never even used a saw. I do own my own sander from my dining room table makeover but that was about as advanced as my woodshop skills were.
Enter the basic cedar planter. Ana’s plans showed they should cost about $20 and the other people implied they only needed a few hours to build. I had a week, a wallet, and all the tools. I decided to build two planters, one for my mom and one for my mother-in-law. Looking back, I wonder what inspired such confidence but I’m glad I thought so highly of myself.
For the project you need:
- 2 – 1×3 @ 8 feet long @ $1.35/board
- 1 – 1×2 @ 8 feet long @ $3.24/board
- 3 – 5 1/2″ wide x 72″ long cedar fence pickets @ $1.97/picket
- 2 – 2×2 @ 4 feet long @ $2.87/post (Ana used 1 2×2 @ 8 feet but these weren’t as easy to find at my store)
- 2 1/2″ exterior pocket hole screws (I had these as part of a kit but they can add cost!)
- 1 1/4″ exterior screws or galvanized nails @ $8.47/box (I used decking screws and had plenty leftover)
- exterior wood glue (Had some leftover from another project)
My supplies ran me about $30/planter but my prices varied from the ones Ana listed so price it out in your area. My supply list also included a bunch of usual tools that you can find listed out on Ana’s site but the key ones you might not have include a Kreg jig and a circular saw.
You’ll want to follow Ana’s cutlist as well. One note, the cedar pickets will have a dog-eared edge used in your planter. This is fine, when assembling just keep the dog-ears pointed towards the ground. Once you have cut everything, make the decision if you want to stain or paint these planters. Staining after the cuts will make it so much easier while you can save painting until it is fully assembled.
Lay down two of your 17″ 1×3 pieces parallel to each other. Space them out the length of your cut fence pickets (17 3/4″). You will want some gaps between the pickets, about a nail’s width wide. When you space everything out the way you like, clamp down the arrangement.
At this point I pre-drilled two holes in each plank, just deep enough that they’d go in the base board to mark their place. Then I’d pull the plank off, glue up the board, and pre-screw each screw into the plank. Then you line the board back into place and fully screw it in. That’s a little wordy so let the pictures below do some more explaining.
Here’s a look at a finished side of the planter. You need to make sure you have 4 of these per planter.
Next up- using a Kreg Jig. This tool allows you to make clean corners when building projects. The depths and screw length are basically determined by the size of wood you are using and a handy chart Kreg provides you. Then you clamp your drill guide to your wood and drill into the drill guide holes.
They leave holes that remind me of deer tracks. Then you drill your Kreg screws into those holes and through the board you are connecting it to. In this case, you’ll be doing the 4′ 2x2s posts.
At this point you want to make one more duplicate side with the 4′ 2×2 posts on the end. You’ll then be left with 2 assembled plank walls and 2 walls with posts attached. Now you need to square up your walls and assemble them so there’s a plank in each corner. This step works best if you have a helper handy. One person keeps the planter square and one person screws in the Kreg screws.
When you finally get that finished you’ll have what looks like an assembled planter. The taste of victory is so close but you still need to make a base for all the pretty plants that will fill the planter. You will want to take your 2 remaining 17″ 1x3s and place them several inches down from the top. I used my square to measure the distance and make sure they were level. Then I attached them in with screws but if you have nails handy those are fine too.
Then to finish the basic planter you’ll take your remaining 17″ 1x2s and lay them across the planks, evenly spaced. I failed to do that because I can’t just follow instructions. Instead of making a basic planter, I wanted each planter customized to each mom. So at the end of phase one, I had two planters that looked like this:
By the end of the next post, you’ll see how I was able to customize them to look like this:Pin It
I’ve been working on a few projects in the yard. First up, a status check on that front flower bed:
Last year’s drought was tough on this bed so the plants that made it are real survivors. We lost all the dwarf rhododendron early on and both the azaleas and one hydrangea were lost by late summer. We still have the hydrangea on the left and it’s getting a solid leaf base early on. The pink and white rhododendron in the back–are both purple but very alive so we’ll take them. We added six geraniums last year that stayed green all winter and we’ve got a clematis climbing the trellis in the middle. There are some plants to replace but it’s looking alive again.
My corner flower bed has a project going on that’s about 90% complete. I’ll share it soon but here’s a hint:
Last week I saw flurries again. Can you believe it? Last year I was trying not to turn on the AC and this year it is snowing a month past spring. In the same week I saw 90 degree temperatures and two trips to the basement for tornado sirens. And it’s flooding. Welcome to Missouri.
I’ve got another project about 40% complete. One day I came home from work to catch my husband digging in the yard. He’d gotten off work early and decided to start another flower bed. Forget a nap or a beer, he likes working after work. We’ve planted a shipment of hostas, a new jack frost brunnera and my lovely coworker just gave me some elephant ears that are likely to end up in here too. We’ve filled the car up with mulch twice but we’ve only gotten so far. Compared to a photo two summers ago, I think the yard is finally making some progress.
I decided not to finish any of these projects today. Sure I could have but I’ve been running around working like crazy, gardening, cooking meals for the week, and planning my high school reunion. Then I saw this face and realized you have to make time for the important things in life, like playing with a pitbull and her ball.
How could I resist a face like that?
It’s been a busy fall at my house. I’ve been finishing the final weeks on my work’s big project and soon I’ll be moving on to a new office and new responsibilities. My husband and I took a big trip to Europe. I finally finished the Couch to 5K program and I have 2 races lined up.
That hasn’t stopped me from having some fun either. I went with some friends and family to my old high school’s Homecoming football game. My littlest brother still goes to school there and it was a big anniversary for me as well. I was most excited to see the marching band. I’m a former member and my little brother (that’s him on the 45 yard line playing the sax) has won several championships at competitions this year. I’m a proud big sister. As a bonus, the football team pulled out a win as well.
I’ve been dressing the house up for fall too. Some pumpkins and some coleus plants add a nice seasonal look with purples and oranges. I have a yellow wreath I use each year. This year I paired it with an owl hanging I found at Michaels. I love the bottlecap eyes…and the fact that it was on clearance.
Here’s a glance at the garden as of 2 weeks ago. Since then we had a tornado warning that knocked down leaves and now a frost warning that froze everything up. The garden barely survived the horrible summer. Remember how gorgeous it looked back in May? I had a hydrangea die, one just barely survived. All the dwarf rhododendron died before the end of June. We planned to replace them with more boxwoods but after a boxelder bug invasion I’m not so sure now. The regular rhododendron made it till July but then they died too. The azalea survived. My husband had bought some geraniums and added them and they thrived as did our coleus plants. We’ll definitely be trying to makeover this garden again next year. I’d like to imagine this year was just a freaky year of drought but I need a low-maintenance plan that can survive drought, massive rains, hail, winds, and me.
For my October table, I wanted to use complementary colors. I know a blue and orange table isn’t traditional for October but I loved how rustic it felt. I was able to shop my house for this project, using my blue willow china and blue cobalt glasses. The matching cobalt wine bottles are from some riesling I drank and the pumpkin votive holders are from Pier1. They match last month’s design. The flowers in the basket were actually a gift holder my husband gave me years back that comes in handy every year.
The only new item I bought for the table were the mini pumpkins. I wanted to buy some napkins but I had the hardest time finding some matching blue napkins. Has anyone seen some deep blue napkins that might match my blue willow or blue cobalt? I’d love to find some before the next time I use them all on the table again.
How was your month of October?Pin It
I had wanted to build a birdhouse for quite a while. And by “build a birdhouse” I really meant decorate one so when Michaels had a sale on their plain wood birdhouses, I picked one up and got started on the decorating part.
My goal was to make the birdhouse coordinate both with my house, which is red, white and blue, and my garden, which has a lot of copper pieces in it. First up was spray painting the house white. I wanted just a light coat to let the wood grain shine through so I used a spray primer. Next was my plan to tie in those copper influences. I found some kitchen backplash tiles at Lowes.
I bought a whole sheet and used only 2 panels so I have plenty leftover for another project up my sleeve. You see those extra inches on the left without any detailing on them? I used them to make a nice front for the birdhouse’s roof while I used the actual panels to cover the roof. I just used some scissors to cut and hot glue to adhere it all to the birdhouse.
I decided to paint some red accents on with some basic acrylic paint. I just painted the perch and the base. Now the next most important part was to drill a hole in the top of the birdhouse so I could hang it outdoors. I just drilled a hole directly across the top with a small bit. To help it stay more decorative, I added some grommets to cover the holes but I needed a larger bit to make sure it fit. I just hot glued them in place when I got the hole the right size.
Now I wanted to protect all my hard work so I sprayed on a clear lacquer before putting it outside. I let it dry 24 hours because of the high humidity here. I didn’t want any haze in my topcoat. Here’s the final look.
Don’t you just love how well it matches my new windchime? I also included a secret pop of red right at the entrance. While I don’t really expect many birds to make this their home, I do think I’ll drill some small holes in the bottom just in case so rain can drain out.
How have your projects been going?Pin It
I recently bought some resin Adirondack chairs (in blue) for my front porch. My house is white and my front door is red so I wanted to tie the color palette together with some Americana influences. I decided that pillows would be the easiest way to do this. My shopping trip left me disappointed. I could only find really expensive pillows or those with an old fashioned feel so I decided I’d just have to make my own pillow covers. I bought some waterproof outdoor pillows from Michaels with a coupon but when I went to the fabric store I found myself in the same conundrum– everything was too old-fashioned or too expensive.
The solution: a Target shower curtain. The modern rugby stripes matched my color scheme, the size of the fabric meant I’d have fabric leftover for future projects, and the shower curtain would add some waterproofing making the pillows more durable. I also came up with a pillowcase design that resembles a sham. That way you get a seamless look from the front but you can just pop the cover off and throw it in the wash.
This design can be made in under an hour. The main skills you need are measuring skills and the ability to sew in a straight line. You’ll sew 4 straight lines per pillow. You’ll need a flat surface, yardstick or ruler, a cutting device (rotary or scissors), washable fabric marker, an iron or pins (check under “making the hems” to see which you need), matching thread, and a fully stocked sewing machine.
Cutting the Fabric
First up, you’ll need to make the cut. Well, cuts. I have 2-16 inch square pillows so I used a simple bit of math to calculate the size of fabric I needed to cut out.
pillow height + 1 inch = fabric height
pillow width + pillow width + 8 inches = fabric width
If you want to cheat and avoid some grade school math, just get 16 inch pillows like I did. My fabric height was 17 inches (16+1=height) and my fabric length was 40 inches (16+16+8=40). I marked the first 17×40 inch section on the fabric and cut it with a rotary cutter, though scissors will work just fine.
Since I was using striped fabric and I wanted the pillows to match, I cut off some excess fabric before cutting out my second pillowcase section so the stripes would start at the same position for both fabrics.
Making the Hems
You’ll want a finished edge on these pillows so step #2 is to hem some edges. If you use a normal fabric you can use your iron to hold your seams but since my polyester wasn’t holding an ironed hem, I used pins to hold the edge.
Place your fabric right-side down. You’ll first want to fold over both of your short edges 1 inch and iron or pin it in place, then fold that same edge over 1 more inch and iron or pin this edge securely. You’ll want to sew each of these hems in place by topstitching through all three layers of fabric. I sewed about 3/4 of an inch from the right (folded) edge. Make sure to repeat this step for all the short edges on your pillows.
Creating the Pillow
Place your fabric right-side up. You should have something resembling a placemat in front of you right about now. You’ll want to measure out the halfway point on the long side of your fabric. I started with a 40-inch length of fabric and used up 4 inches making the seams (2 inches per side) so my fabric should be at 36 inches long now. I’ll want to make my center mark at 18 inches.
This next part is a little counter-intuitive so make sure to read it twice before attempting. My pillow is 16 inches in length so half of that is 8 inches. Place a ruler next to the edge with the 8 inch mark (or half the pillow length) of the ruler at the center mark on the fabric. Make sure your ruler is facing with 0 on the right end of the ruler for this part. Watch the images for clarification.
You’ll want to take the left (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 16 inch mark (or your pillow’s length) on your ruler.
Now take the right (short) edge of your fabric and pull it toward the center. Pull the fabric until the folded edge lines up with the 0 inch mark on your ruler. Your fabric will overlap near the center.
Now you’ll need to pin the bottom raw edges together. Repeat with the top raw edges.
Sew a half inch seam along the bottom edge. Then sew a half inch seam along the top edge. Repeat with your second pillow.
Turn your pillow case inside out, pushing out the corners firmly.
Now you can just slide the pillows into the pillowcases and you are set! The hardest part of this project is just the measuring. With 4 straight lines even a beginner can sew these pillows. See how they add that pop of color my front porch needed.Pin It
My front flower bed wasn’t the only eyesore in my front yard. I have a second flower bed that sits on the front corner of my house that is just as bad or worse. My husband and I had pulled out all the eyesore plants but the remaining dirt and weeds became an eyesore themselves.
You can see that we’re testing out pavers for yet another retaining wall and we have one bush we plan to save. We’ll also be making a second rain barrel base for our other rain barrel. We also would love to see a pathway to walk on, one that would connect our front door to our side door. We’re not sure if we’re thinking concrete or stepping stones or some other material but we know a path of some kind is in order.
Our plans include designing an inner and an outer corner flower bed. You can see where our tentative dividing retaining wall would fall between the two but that bush would be in the outer ring. Then we’d build a sidewalk that would curve around the house to the side yard. We’ll dead end it where we hope to build a patio in phase 2 of this project. Phase 2 will be at some point in the future, probably next summer. Then we’ll expand the shade garden to follow the curve of our new path.
You can see it all on my super-awesome guide. The blue area is the front flower bed we just finished. The orange will be the new corner flower beds, the brown will be our path, and the yellow is phase 2 of the project.
I’m still working on the timeline for this project and it’ll probably take a bit of a backseat until we get the closet done. It’s been bumped up the list though so we’ll be working on this before our fireplace. I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the garden but for the most recent updates, make sure to follow my facebook page. I usually include progress pictures along the way over there.
This week has been a crazy one. I started a new job last week and it’s been keeping me on my toes. Luckily it’s close to home and I get an hour for lunch so I can come home, play with the dog, eat some food, and prep dinner. The husband has really stepped up his game and has cooked roasted salmon and learned to make croutons but he’d much rather me mention his mad Kraft Mac & Cheese skills.
So while I’m adjusting I’m still trying to find time to do all those other tasks. This isn’t me complaining, I’m just adjusting and wishing Mother’s Day had been on a day I don’t use for blog writing. Complaining would be telling all you people to work on your penmanship because there are some people out there with awful handwriting and my super-secret-please-don’t-fire-me position requires me to read bad handwriting for hours upon hours but at least they pay me. 🙂 It’s nice to have place to work and I have some great co-workers but there’s still nothing like home.
After work my favorite thing to do is to do “the rounds” with the husband and dog. The husband laments that his plants haven’t grown much since the last evening and the dog thinks every time we move our legs that we will kick her ball for her. Sometimes we do and then she looks like this after she’s all worn out. Then 5 minutes later she wants to go again.
That hydrangea at the top of the post–it’s decided to be pink this year. Last year it was blue, the one next to it is blue but this year it wants to be a special snowflake so pink it is. Just 2 weeks ago it had a blue tint so now it’s in a lavender transition plan. When you comment on your plants daily you start to notice lots of little color variations that normal people don’t notice.
We also have these rocking coleus plants. We planted them in our new planters but really every planter in the yard has at least 2 just thrown in. We bought way too many because we love coleus plants. This year we found some great varieties. Since they grow fantastically in the shade, they’re one of the few ways we get color into the shade garden.
The husband likes the “watermelon” ones best (green and pink) but I seem to favor the reddish ones just for the unusual color. Coleus plants pair really well with flowers like impatiens or even ivy but we’ve gone flowerless this year to go a touch more low-maintenance. I’ll show you later in the summer how huge these plants can get. Which variety is your favorite?
Remember when my front flower bed looked like this? Overgrown and full of leaves was not this bed’s finest hour.
After some hard work we built a retaining wall but the area didn’t look quite like I’d envisioned. Then we had to build a base for our old rain barrel. After a lot of planting and a lot of mulch, here it is today.
We ended up making a few changes from our original plans, like removing one azalea from the top section and instead adding in some coleus plants and geraniums. You can see some work still needs to be done on the left staircase but that’s another plan for another day. We still have a planter to build to cover up that phone box in the middle section but this is definitely progress.
The hydrangeas we ended up finding are called Invincibelle Spirit and they’re just getting ready to bloom. They’ll be a deep pink color and will add some color now that the other flowers are switching to their summer greens.
So what’s up next for the yard? We have a second flower bed to create that will connect our front door to our side door. This project was only a test for that bigger project. Since this one took a month working only weekends and evenings in between rain and crazy record highs, I’m betting the second project will take longer. I’ll show you our plans and timeline in the coming weeks along with the mess we’re up against.Pin It