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    We're two avid DIY-ers raising two rambunctious boys while tackling large and small projects, living to share our tale. All with the hope to inspire and encourage others.

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    Tagged by @mrsclh for #widn Cleaning up most of today's mess. And admiring the boys' Lego creations. Always busy building. Tagging @iheartorganizing @aquahaus @houseofearnest if you want to play along. Made a sweet little box, a total copy of a @westelm design. Tutorial on the blerg right now. Old building details out at the ranch. Love the stone and logs.

Big Ass Benches

We’ve got scrap piles for days.  Seemingly of anything and everything.  Including a few beams we didn’t use for our deck, walkways, or stairs.  To use a few up, Ben built what we’ve dubbed ‘Big Ass Benches.’


They’re huge at 8 feet long and weigh at least 150 pounds each.  Two fill in the space by the waterfall, around the fire pit.


To build these behemoths, Ben cut an 8 foot piece for the seat and two 3 foot tall sections for arms.  Scraps of 2 by 4 work as cleats and 2 by 6 boards for the backs.


Long screws go through the sides and into the seat.


Back boards connect to a small chunk of wood.


Along with the two in the back, we’ve got another on the front landing.


It functions as a bench (duh!) and a railing, keeping people away from the far edge and steep drop to the driveway.

Box it Like it’s Hot

This project is a shameless West Elm knock off.  The Contrast boxes are fun and useful in nearly any room.

But, only the tray is available right now.  Hence the knock off.  I found the perfect wood while picking up some other supplies at Home Depot.  In the aisle with pre-cut sheets (varying thickness MDF, peg board, and plywood), I saw these 1/2 inch thick solid oak boards.  Only $2.50 per 1/2 inch by 5.5 inch by 2 foot board.


I grabbed three and started building when I got back home.  Using the width of the plank as my top and base, I cut two rectangles at 8 inches.  To create the sides, I cut mitered corners to fit around the base.  Not on top, as I did with my recent tray project.  So the inside of my long pieces were 8 inches, short sides at 5.5 inches.


This is where a pin nailer comes in very handy.  For each side, I’d brush wood glue on each corner or joint, hold it in place until square, and then shoot four or five 3/4 inch long nails in.


It leaves teeny holes, but holds everything together until the glue sets.  For my triangle lamps, I used this same method of nails and glue and they’ve held up perfectly.  Now, to deal with the recessed top.

West Elm’s version has a routered top, but I decided it would be quicker and just as effective to add little ‘posts’ to each corner.  After measuring the inside of the box, I subtracted a half-inch and glued them in.


My top is a 5.5 by 8 inch rectangle, allowing it to rest inside the frame, on atop the corner posts.  To accommodate the leather strap handle, I measured my leather.  At 3/16 thick, I cut a slightly larger slot by drilling holes in each end and connecting the pieces with a funky vibrating saw.


Before finishing, I sanded everything with fine paper.  Using stain and paint I already had, I finished the outside with stain, and the inside and top edge with paint.  Four coats of Polycrylic to protect everything and give a little shine.  For under eight dollars, I have a cute box to stash our junk on the coffee table.


It’s a nice wooden accent, but I’m worried it looks too tall.  Almost like a Kleenex box cover.  I might make a shorter one…


At any rate, it holds lotions, chapstick, nail clippers, and the boys’ toothbrushes.


The leather handle is a lot easier for the boys to open than the metal bin we had used.



I couldn’t think of a better way to attach the strap, so I stapled it to the underside of the cover.  I’m guessing West Elm attached their handle differently.  Haha.


A lower, longer box would be great to hold our remotes, too.  I could also use one in the bathroom for first aid supplies.

Light Load

I mean that title both in a literal way and a pun.  After busting our butts to get the lap siding wrapped up on the back and side, we’ve taken it easy.  Partially because the heat limits what we can get done.  Also to spend time with visiting family.  But that hasn’t completely stopped us from checking a few things off our list.

Early on Sunday morning, to beat the afternoon heat, I climbed up on the scaffolding to edge around the two windows.


With the third coat done, the scaffolding finally came down!  And Ben hung the exterior lights, hence the punny title.


Looks so much better and updated than the blue before.  Now to measure and order the lower steel.


Two lights also flank the back door.


Our preference is down directional lighting, to decrease light pollution.  These Hampton Bay Essen outdoor sconces are super simple and exactly what we had in mind.

A tiny touch of dark jewelry for the house.


In other exciting news, the last five windows and doors for the front of the house came in last week.  Weather, please cool off just a little so we can get started with those big changes.  From a mother to a mother (nature), please.


With hot temps outside, I focused some of my energy inside.  Particularly, the four-month neglected replaced wall in the dining room.  I’m finishing up wet sanding the joints to get ready to texture.


Unfortunately, to match the rest of the walls in the room, we have to spray on and knock down texture on this wall.


Then we can add trim and paint the town.  And add a set of curtains to that bare window, to match the other two in the room.

Propagate Like Rabbits

In the early spring, I grabbed an ‘Angelina’ Stonecrop at Home Depot to stick in one of many small cracks near the waterfall.


Over just a few months, it has doubled in size.  Which is fantastic, but there’s a bonus to planting these, and most other varieties of succulents.


Little branch-type off shoots grow from the main stems.  Sometimes, they fall off if bumped or watered too heavily.


Rather than letting those tiny stems die, I gather them off the ground.

And poke the ends in wet soil.


If misted with water daily, they set up roots to form another plant.


As areas fill in, I’ve spread the fallen pieces around the waterfall.  Filling in cracks to add bright greenery to break up the spans of rocks.


I haven’t had a need to try this with the ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum, but I know this also works with Blue Spruce Sedum.  Deer have trampled those to eat the flowers.  Rooting those fallen stems is a crazy easy way to spread the love and save some moolah.

Coal Miner’s Daughter

Alternate title: Our house is finally a solid color.  Which is a lie.  Only two sides are painted.  We’re still waiting on windows for the front, then we can insulate, side, and paint.  But, here’s the progress on the back and garage end.  After installing the siding, soffit, and caulking joints we masked off the windows and doors.  I decided it would be easier to mask an inch or so beyond each window, then come back and free hand edge.  Instead of taping each slightly tapered edge of the window.


Living in a bubble for a few hours was strange.


Once masked, the painting went lightning fast.  We used Behr’s exterior paint + primer in Mined Coal.  While stirring the paint, we worried it was too thick for the sprayer (we have this one, if you’re wondering) to apply properly.  Happy surprise, it sucked it up just fine and sprayed evenly.  Though it did use more than we expected.  Each side took about three gallons of paint, using six total.  One gallon should cover 300-400 square feet, we got 100.  Basically the single coat is equal to two or three normal layers.


Only a few drips, too, I think because the paint is so thick.  So happy surprise number two, we didn’t have to apply a second coat.  Now the house looks dark and handsome.


Especially compared to our blue starting point a few years ago.


The soffit matches the siding, helping it blend in.  To simplify the process, we chose to paint before installing the steel.  One less thing to mask off, right?


Missing vent covers are getting a few coats of paint, too.  New lights going in soon.


Next, measuring the steel and getting it installed.


We still have a few areas, around the windows, on the higher garage end to touch up before we can take the scaffolding down.  Ben doesn’t trust me up there because I’m clumsy enough on the ground.  Apparently he doesn’t want me falling.


Painting went 100 times smoother and faster than I expected.  I think Ben spent maybe an hour actually spraying.  That sprayer kick ‘em some booty, as the boys would say.  Masking everything off definitely took longer.  Cutting in each lap took the most time, but wasn’t difficult.  Now we have a much better view when we drive up.  I jokingly said we should paint the little play house to match, but I’m not that crazy.  Yet.  It’s just ugly.


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