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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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    I haven't decided if this ceramic lamp is awesome or awesomely ugly. 12 bucks, including an atrocious 70s shade. Cast your vote now. While walking around the neighborhood, I noticed two plants I like. But I have no clue what they are. Can you help identify either (or both) of these? Grow, my pretties. Grow!

Cedar Planked

I’ve mentioned this year’s big task, operation siding, many times.  While we’re still no closer to finishing due to weather, we have made some progress inside.  In the form of a reclaimed cedar planked wall.


Our bedroom has received so little attention (only a coat of paint and plain Jane white curtains) and neither Ben or I ever felt excited about it.  Sad, because master bedrooms should feel like a retreat.

I never thought I’d love tattered old wood as much as I do in here.  The reclaimed wood feels like a big, warm hug for the room.  And the perfect starting point for a full makeover.


Okay, calling it ‘reclaimed’ makes it sound super special and old.  Really, it’s just the back of old cedar siding.


Yes, our old, blue cedar siding.  While the finished side had seen better days, most of the backs were in great shape.

Several months ago, I told Ben I wanted to plank our headboard wall in old wood.  Being a dude, he was immediately on board.  Did ya get that pun?  We tossed out the idea of pallets, but we’d have to save and disassemble them.  Old barn wood can get pretty expensive these days.  So when we pulled off the siding, we knew we wanted to save it from the landfill and put it to use.  The first step was pulling out every nail and staple. Our siding is similar to tongue and groove, so Ben cut off the edges by running each piece through the table saw.  In the photo above, we had already finished one side.  Our pieces are 6 inches wide once ripped down.

Most of the pieces had cupped over time, creating a slightly less than straight piece.  To remove this and allow the boards to sit flat against the wall, Ben ran the blue sides through the planer.  We have the 13 inch Ridgid, if you’re looking for a nice, affordable planer.


In our original plan, we wanted to plane both sides to a smooth finish.  Unfortunately, the cedar had different plans.  It gummed up and dulled the blades really quickly.  On to plan b.  Installing the planks as is to paint over.  To secure each piece to the wall, we marked out studs, drawing a line up with a level.  The arrows show each line:


Using the 2 1/2 inch 16 gauge nails, we nailed into each stud on the top and bottom.  Rather than butting the boards together, we used nickles to leave a small gap between each board.


This process was super quick and we had a nearly finished wall in about two hours.


Once we finished, we put the room back together, including the curtains.  And we absolutely loved the wall.  Old holes, bits of tar paper residue, and all; no painting necessary.


One of the quickest, biggest impact projects we’ve done.  Let’s plank all the walls now!  And the first thing we’ve done in our room that has made me downright giddy to tackle more.


Because the rest of the room certainly needs help.  A lot of help.  And this was just the project to motivate my ass.


Next up, scraping the popcorn ceilings.  Fortunately I have experience in this department and it was surprisingly fun to do.  It’s the patching after that sucked the big one.  But, but! (and mine is a big one) if I want to work on the rest of the room, it must happen first.  I’ll be back with the rest of the plan for the room soon.  Until then, let’s talk old wood.  That’s what he said.

Chair City

That’s what I dubbed last week.  Why?  Because I scored two chairs while thrifting.  This first one was free.  It’s adorable, petite with a cute back.


Super simple, but it’s perfect for the little space next to the dresser in the guest room.  It should make a great place to plop a suitcase or bag.


The reason it was free?  One of the back legs is broken and someone crudely ‘fixed’ it with a scrap of wood and wire.  I’m not sure I can restore it to original, but at the very least add an even piece on without wire.


With a half yard of fabric and a few staples, the seat will look completely different.  Next up is a chair I’ve seen over the last few weeks.  I’m not sure what it is about this chair that I love so much, but I do.


Maybe it’s the two-tone look with black vinyl back?  The aged nail head trim?


Perhaps the dainty, curved arms.


It has a certain je ne sais quoi.  Look at those brass rings around the top of the legs.  This chair is packed with little details and I dig it.


Except those rubber feet and the baggy cushion covers.  Those are both going to go.  Question is, what color/fabric should the new covers be?  Natural linen?  It would match the small sofa and can go almost everywhere with anything.  Who knows if the living room is the last home for this guy…

Forecast: Sunny Plants

Last year, creating the hardscaped areas outside was our largest, most time-consuming task.  We created a waterfall with hidden pond, built a reclaimed beam deck, added a bocce court, and spread tons (and tons!) of limestone rock.


With the major components in place, we are free to start adding plants.  At least in most areas.  We still can’t plant against the house because they’d get trampled while working on the new siding.  Womp, womp.



Can I get a “Finally!” though?  While we think the rock is better to look at than the very patchy dirt and grass of yore, it feels rather desolate and… unfinished.



I’ve been shopping around town for perennial plants that fit these criteria: 1.  Must tolerate full (6+ hours) sun.  2.  Drought tolerant and/or deer resistant because those four-legged friends show up often around our house.  3.  Can handle the cold weather we get come winter (we’re in zone 4).  4.  I also want a variety of sizes, texture, color, and bloom times.

My stops included several local greenhouses, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the variety both home improvement stores had this year.  In fact, most, if not all, of my top twelve picks are available at the big retailers.  No need to track them down at a special store.


1.  Spirea is a shrub, growing 1 to 4 feet tall with colorful flowers.  Hearty in zones 4-9.  The green leaves are pretty spring through fall with pink flowers showing up in the summer.  Also somewhat drought tolerant needing weekly waterings once established.

2.  Lupine is a perennial with colorful, showy flowers.  Grows 18 to 24 inches tall in zones 4-9.  Adding colorful flowers to brighten up areas will break up the green.

3.  Nest Spruce, an evergreen can grow 3 feet tall and up to 6 feet wide.  It’s bright color contrasts with darker evergreens.  Good in zones 2-8.  We’ve already added five to the front of the bocce court.  Once mature, these will spread out and hopefully look like a green carpet year round.


4.  Blue Fescue is a low growing (6 inches tall) ornamental grass.  Both drought tolerant and deer resistant it adds color along borders in zones 4-8.  I’d love to plant a row of ornamental grasses, including Blue Fescue along the edge of the bocce court.

5.  Yarrow, a flowering groundcover can reach heights of 2 to 3 feet and spreads up to 5 feet wide.  Bright flowers are ideal for cutting.  Grows in zones 3-9.  To add some color along the front walk, I picked up two yarrow.  While small now, they should cover the rock well in a few years.

6.  Lavender  is known for fragrant flowers, but did you know it is also an evergreen?  Growing 3 to 3 1/2 feet tall and wide this low water mounding perennial is hearty in zones 4-9.  After we finish the siding, I think a few lavender plants along the house would look and smell amazing.


7.  Purpleleaf Sand Cherry  A tall shrub, 5 feet wide by 8 feet tall, with deep purple leaves in summer and fall, grown in zones 4-7.  We’re nursing a scraggly Sand Cherry back to life.  The color is just stunning.

8.  Salvia  Pretty and vibrant violet flowers grow on this mounding perennial.  At 18 inches tall to 24 inches wide this plant packs a punch in zones 4-9.  All over our neighborhood, I see Salvia in yards and along borders.  I’m certain it will do well here.

9.  Sedum ‘Angelina’ Stonecrop  This wonderfully bright chartreuse groundcover stays 6-10 inches tall spreading up to 16 inches.  Surprisingly cold hearty, growing in zones 3-11.  The bright color and texture of this plant had me at hello.  The one by the waterfall has already grown about 50% bigger.


10.  Dwarf Daylily  With bright green leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers, these fast growing plants are ideal for borders.  Only 15 to 24 inches and grow in zones 3-9.  Several lilies would work very well along the back walkway.

11.  Lamb’s Ears  Silvery green fuzzy leaves are an interesting low growing (8 to 10 inches tall) groundcover in zones 4-8.  While the flowers aren’t anything special, the texture of these make me want several.  Perhaps planted on the slope along the driveway?

12.  Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’  Commonly used as a border plant, this fleshy leaf plant grows 18 to 24 inches tall and wide.  Easy care and low water usage when established in zones 4-11.  I’ve deemed the area along the back rock steps my succulent garden and planted several varieties, including this sedum variety.


Of course there are many (many!) more plants that could work.  These are just the twelve currently on my radar and in my mental shopping cart.

Plants don’t have to cost an arm or a leg either; the most I’ve paid for one plant so far is $20.  Sure, the smaller the plant, the less it’ll cost.  But Home Depot had large Nest Spruce evergreens for about 25 bucks each.  Costco also has good deals on plants in the spring.  For the 45 or so plants I’ve already purchased, I think I’ve spent around $350 total.  Most are in the 5 to 9 dollar range, so they’re affordable.  In a few years, they should fill out more.

Keep your receipts, too as most stores have a one year warranty policy for perennials.  Also, check Craigslist for people looking to get rid of plants they already have.  Friends may also have plants to split and share.  A friend recently gave me 4 hostas, 4 hydrangea plants, several peonies, and a large boxwood.  My mom said she can divide her large hostas to share with us, too.  We have one smaller shade area (along the back of the house), that I’d like to turn into a hosta/fern/lily of the valley garden.

What are your favorite sun plants?  If you like this round-up, I’m working on part sun and shade plants, too.

Off With the Old

Our siding is ugh-lee.  Blue siding, soffit, and fascia without any detailing to add character.


Only peeling brick moulding around the windows and doors.  Some areas had been patched with cedar, but never got a coat of stain.  A few lucky areas didn’t even get that far and are still bare sheeting.


Regardless, we have always planned to replace the drafty windows and dated siding.  Finally, the garage end is almost (so close!) ready for new siding.  Of course, it can’t be a quick process.  Oh no, everything is more difficult because we’re super insulating the house.  Layering the outside with four inches of polyiso insulation, we’ve got a few more steps than usual to get things finished.  First, Ben pulled off the old siding, leaving behind pockets of dead bugs.


So gross, but the boys had a blast knocking the bugs off.  Then the tar paper comes off and we (really Ben because I’m just his helper/tool handler on these projects) replaced the windows.


The window in the boys’ room was fogged up because the seal broke.


Outside wasn’t looking any better; peeling paint and rotting wood isn’t worth keeping.


We still have to trim out around the windows, but seeing through and opening a window, what a novel idea!


Wrapping the house takes longer, but it made a big difference in heating and cooling our old house.

To add the insulation, Ben adds two layers of 2″ thick foam panels.  Typically used on flat roofs of commercial buildings, we found these on Craigslist to reuse.  Along the top, bottom, and around windows and doors he adds 2 by 4 boards to attach plywood sheeting over.  Then the plywood is nailed in place and screwed into the house studs.  The last layer before siding is a water proof wrap.


The back of the house and pool house are ready for siding.


To break up long expanses, the bottom part of the front and garage sides will be covered with corrugated steel.  It rusts over time and will add a lot of warmth and rustic interest.  The rest will be lap siding we’ll paint a medium dark gray (to the right of the door below).


Over the weekend, we finished the wrapping on the garage end and have only the white weather wrap to do.


Though still ugly, we’re headed toward the finish line.  This is one marathon we’re certainly ready to finish.  I’m sure our neighbors are ready, too.

Chevron Leaves

Recently, I promised myself I’d bring more green and naturals into our house.  The bathroom is sporting a new lush look, why not add some to the living room?


Until now I had my quirky sit and stay text bubble pillows on the chairs:


Not at all natural, were they?  For a quick change, I pulled out a remnant of mossy green linen.  Great color, but alone it looked boring.


Inspired by nature, I stamped a leaf design.  Three cheers for new life to that side of the living room!  Look at my plants, too.  Four over there, including the finicky maiden hair fern.  I haven’t killed it.  In fact, it has a ton of new growth.  It’s a miracle!


After debating patterns (random, circles, lines) I settled on a chevron pattern.

To create the uneven texture, I used a piece of a foam to go box as a stamp.  Using a knife, I cut out a leaf shape.  A pencil tip worked perfectly to press light veins into the leaf.


Stamping was quick and I didn’t fuss over evenness of the paint or placement.



Green is good for my mood; it perks me and my home up.  Fun and fresh without being crazy or dramatic.



What’s your favorite color to decorate with?


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