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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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    Eek!!!! Look what's in the fall issue of Do it Yourself magazine. So exciting!! Hey big guy, how you doin'? Startled me when I went out to water plants. Anyone up for a hot air balloon ride this morning? It's something on my bucket list.

Lap it Up

We had a wild and crazy weekend filled with siding projects.  Aren’t you jealous?  Friday afternoon, Ben finished installing the siding above the garage.  I caught him creeping outside the window. Friday-Night-Siding-Install Everything above the garage, to the peak, is lap siding.  Below will be corrugated rust steel, which we’ll install once the siding has been painted. Lap-Siding-Garage-End-Finished White, paintable metal pieces cover the ends of each board. Lap-Siding-Garage-End-Installed On the corners and edges, we used the same trim as the windows for the siding to butt into.  These pieces, along with the soffit and fascia, will get covered with dark gray paint. Lap-Siding-Corner-Deatil On Saturday morning, while we ate breakfast, we watched several hot air balloons take off and land. Hot-Air-Balloons After that, we went to work installing vented soffits. Lap-Siding-and-Vented-Soffit After that, I set out to caulk all the seams around the windows to be sure water can’t get behind the siding.  I followed up with two coats of trim paint to cover the caulking. Lap-Siding-and-Window-Detail We bought a few gallons of Mined Coal exterior paint from Behr to get started on edging. Lap-Siding-Cutting-in-with-Gray Lap-Siding-Finished-on-Back As usual, we’ve still got several steps to go before we can declare it finished.  Even then, we’ll still have to install the corrugated steel.  At least those are big sheets. Lap-Siding-On-Back-of-House More than anything, I’m looking forward to having a finished, not patched exterior.

Striped Sack

You know that free chair I got earlier this month?  Yeah, this one.  Also known as the three-legged wonder.  So I don’t actually call it that (just made it up, in fact), because that would be weird.  TLW just got a very quick new seat.


If it looks like an old flour or grain sack design, it should.  Wanting to add more rustic elements, especially in the colorful guest room, I thought a the simple design was perfection.  Before starting, I gathered my supplies and inspiration.  To make a more authentic grain sack knock off, I searched images until I found a pattern I loved.  It happens to be this grain sack pillow featured on The Cavender Diary.  Four black simple stripes in varying widths.

To complete this I used a scrap of natural linen (ironed first), Frog Tape, a yard stick, pencil, black craft paint, and a natural bristle brush.


To get started, I found the center of my fabric and made a mark at the top and bottom-where the lines would not be seen.  From those center marks, I measured my stripes.  My two middle stripes are 1/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch apart.  The two outermost lines are 1/2 inch wide.  At first, I started cutting down pieces of tape to make the narrow bands.  Then I wised up and taped off only one stripe at a time.


For a varied look, I dipped the brush in paint, dabbed some off, and then painted between the taped lines.  Once that section dried, I pulled off the tape and moved to the next row.  After all four, I had my finished design.


The old fabric reeked of cigarette smoke, so I pulled it (and another layer underneath) off before attaching my new piece.  Because I have only two hands (dammit, Gadget arms, work!) I centered my lines and taped each side to keep it in place when I flipped it.


Several staples on each side and two in each corner and I attached it to the frame again.  I saw past the broken leg because I loved the cute back so much.  Using a basic pattern (versus the detailed crewel fabric) better compliments the back.


It looks mighty charming in the room, if I do say so myself.


Just realized, this too is a completely free project because I used left over fabric and supplies from other projects.  Even the chair was free.

Scrap Pile Creations

When I get the urge to create something, usually my first step is to raid my supplies.  Be it fabric, paint, or in today’s case, our scrap lumber bin.  It starts with a specific need, but finding ways to use left over materials is a slight way to push myself creatively.  Much like my cedar tub shelf.  And both pieces I made add function to spaces.  For our living room, I built a large square tray to corral everything on the coffee table.


I started with a piece of 1/2 inch MDF that was 22 by 30 inches and an 8 foot strip of 1 1/2 inch wide 1/2 inch MDF.  I cut the 1/2 inch piece to 22 inches square and then four strips for the sides.  All trays are assembled the same way.  Thin base material with side material attached on top.  I used 1 inch staples in our air stapler to secure everything; undersides first, then corners.


Due to the nature of MDF, it bulged out and cracked along the edges.  I wasn’t concerned because I knew I’d fill it with putty and caulk.  After filling the cracks and staple holes with wood filler, I caulked the inside corners.



Sanding everything smooth was quick and evened out the bumps.


For durability, I used some white exterior paint.  After three coats, I took it outside to spray with clear gloss.  Two light coats in I noticed how the gloss had yellowed the finish.  Great.  I lightly sanded it again and did two more coats of white paint and called it a day.  Good enough, I can always repaint down the road.  To spare the table from damage, I added small rectangles of felt to the underside.  Clearly I didn’t care about the staples or paint drips on the bottom.


And now I’ve got a simple tray to keep magazines, remotes, and other crap (like the boys’ mini foods) organized.


Because their minis are so adorable, I used a wooden drawer organizer (it was actually a tiny shelf) to display the collection.


In other scrap pile happenings, I used a small chunk of left over cedar to make a shelf for our shower cubby.


Before assembly, I sanded all sides with 220 grit paper and drilled two pilot holes in each end of the top board.  Obviously this shelf is exposed to water, so I used stainless steel screws so it wouldn’t rust.  Once assembled, I coated it with teak oil for a protective layer.


The shelf holds a razor and bar soap, leaving more room on the bottom for bottles.  There, two quick and easy scrap projects that don’t cost a dime.

Forecast: Shade Plants

Shade is a hot commodity around our house.  Very few areas are considered full shade because the length of the house faces north/south.  Afternoon shaded areas are usually sunny in the mornings.


So, we have a thin strip near the back of the house (off the edge of the deck) that can grow part shade or full shade plants.  Which is fine with me, because there aren’t as many shade plants to choose from.  I’ve imagined a hosta/bleeding heart/lily of the valley/hydrangea/coral bells garden.  So that was my starting point, but I wanted to find a few more to add more interest.  Here’s my list:


1.  Bleeding Heart is a delicate, arching spring blooming perennial that can grow up to three feet tall.  Prefers cool conditions and is deer resistant.  After blooming, foliage dies off.  To prevent a bare spot, plant near other perennials.

2.  Hostas are the most popular shade perennial in the United States, and for good reason; easy to grow, low maintenance, and striking leaves.  Best in zones 4-8, typical height is 12 inches to 30 inches wide.


Thanks to a friend, I’ve already got a few hosta plants in the back.  And one nice hydrangea, but another isn’t looking too hot.  After we wrap up the siding, I can fill in areas closer to the house with more hosta plants, and perhaps a few more from this list.

3.  Hellebore plants bloom in late winter and early spring, making it a fun choice for gardens.  These deer resistant flowers grow in zones 4-8, reaching 24 inches tall and wide.

4.  Creeping Jenny is a low-growing ground cover with round bright green leaves.  This fast grower prefers part sun and grows about 4 inches tall and 24 inches wide in zones 3-9.


A few Creeping Jenny live in the rock planter.  When the large shrub fills in, the branches give the plants enough shade to thrive in an otherwise full sun area.

5.  Astible has large flower clumps that bloom in the summer.  Can reach 36 inches tall and wide in zones 4-9 and are deer resistant.

6.  Wild Ginger grows, well, wild in the Eastern half of the U.S.  It can be difficult to track down at a nursery, but are easily transplanted from forests.

7.  Ajuga is also tricky to find locally, but plants can be purchased online.  Thrives in part shade and can tolerate full shade and moderately dry areas.  With a mature height of 6 inches, this groundcover attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Great in zones 4-9, and can stay evergreen in areas with mild winters.

8.  Heucherella is a low-growing (8 inches) groundcover, but is also used as spiller in potted arrangements.  Fast growing, and sprouts short spikes of coral flowers in mid-spring in zones 4-9.

9.  Coral Bells are similar to Heucherella, but are easier to find at large home improvement stores.  With a mounding habit, these colorful leaves don’t overtake a garden.  Grow 24 inches wide and tall in zones as cold as 4.  Also have delicate flowers in spring.

10.  Lily of the Valley has dense green foliage with dainty white scallop-edged flowers in the spring.  Spreads rapidly in moist soil, but dry soil can help prevent spreading.  Performs best in zones 4-8.


Below the windows, I plan to add some low-growing plants; lily of the valley, coral bells, and creeping Jenny.

11.  Sweet Woodruff is a fast spreading, low growing ground cover.  With shallow roots, it is perfect under shade trees where grass can’t thrive.  Mature height of 8 inches with tiny white flowers in late spring and early summer in zones 4-8.

12.   Epimedium originated in Japan.  This part sun plant has large heart-shaped leaves with spiky flowers in the spring.  Reaches 14 inches tall and is best in zones 4-8.  I have yet to find this locally, but have found great options online.

If you’re looking for full sun plants, here are twelve that are on my radar.  Of course, feel free to add your suggestions and favorites, too.

Operation: Siding

Over the weekend, Ben made a lot of progress on the back side of the house, hanging almost everything.


Though the siding on the front of the house doesn’t look awesome, the back has been a hot mess.  Kind of like a mullet: okay in the front, awful in the back.  For the past year, this has been our view:


Ugly, right?  Old blue siding with a too high light, exposed OSB, shiny insulation, even tar paper.  Clearly we’re not finished, but, having real siding is nothing short of amazing at this point.


For durability, we chose to use LP SmartSide 7 7/8 inch lap siding.  With many windows, doors, lights, and vents to cut around, it wasn’t the quickest process.


To finish off the windows, I pre-painted our Miratec trim.  I painted four windows of trim after install and let me tell you, cutting in around each window was a royal pain in the butt.


So, the back of the house will all be lap siding, but we wanted to add some of the corrugated rust around back.  One thing that bugs me is when the front of a house looks great, but the sides and back are super cheap.  Still a mullet, people.  To finish off the awkward, angled pool house side, we’ll use corrugated steel that will rust over time.


We know this is an unusual choice, but it seems very… Montana.  Several homes in newer developments around town have it and we love how unique it is.  Oddly, from afar, it kind of looks like stained wood.  Which was another option we discussed, but it requires so much maintenance that we didn’t want to deal with.  Once the steel is up, it’ll rust and that’s it.  On a roof, it has a 50 year rating, so we shouldn’t have to worry about it for a long time.


Good news, the siding we chose comes in several pre-finished colors.  Bad news, none of which were close to what we had in mind.  The color of the boards is just primer that we’ll cover in a dark gray.  All that to say, we’ve still got loads of work ahead of us before we’re finished.  Baby steps.


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