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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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    Puffy, fluffy clouds over last season's burned hills. And yet, still beautiful. #latergram 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.

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.

What’s the Deal?

Whether it’s family, friends, or readers, the most often asked question about our house is related to the most crazy feature: the pool house.  It’s a large room with a deep indoor pool.  Here’s the view from the house when we moved in:

New-House-Pool-Room April 13 2012

And looking back from the fountain seen above:


Clearly, the main feature and purpose of this room is the pool.  But, if you look at the above photos, you’ll see a recessed hot tub and a raised wet bar area.  When we bought the place, the pool hadn’t functioned in several years.  In the 10 or so years the previous owner had been here, the hot tub had never worked.  Instead, the pool had very disgusting water lingering and festering.  We sucked out the remaining water and ripped out the sun bleached and damaged pool liner.


Before we could landscape and build our single level deck, we had to knock out the platform:


To be able to cut out the concrete


and lower the door and window:


One thing always seems to lead to another.  Or requires something to be done before the next can happen.  All of that to say the pool house isn’t looking nice these days.  See what I mean?


Essentially, we use the space as our personal warehouse.  Those stacks are rigid insulation that we’re using to wrap the house.  On the floor we’ve got siding and exterior trim.  You can see the saw horses where I prepaint the trim white.


When we replaced the cedar shake roof, the plastic wrap around the skylights came loose.  So that dangles down in a really graceful way.  Ha.


As stunning as it currently is, this isn’t our permanent plan for this space.  Before we can get to any of the pretty parts, we have to remove the plastic ceiling panels and the dark stained siding.  Then, we’ll wrap everything in two layers of the rigid insulation panels to hold in heat during the winter.

Here’s what we’ve discussed for the finishes in the room.  On the ceiling, we want to use tongue and groove wood.  Whether we leave it natural, stain, or paint it is still up in the air.  For the walls, we’re leaning toward the same lap siding, but painting it a lighter neutral.  A section of the back wall is two feet deeper than the rest.  We’ve thrown out the idea of creating a rust steel accent wall there, to help tie the exterior in.  Those giant beams will get a good sanding and clear coat.  I really like the original lights, so those will stay.


In place of the recessed hot tub, we’ll cover the hole, tile over it, and put in a stand alone tub.  They’re so much more efficient and accessing the plumbing is a necessity.


I mentioned tile, and we’re really hoping to use a natural material.  Perhaps the same slate we used in the master bathroom because we love it so much.  It’s not slippery or slick, and looks amazing.  Most of the doors and windows are fogged up, which means the seals are broken and need replacing.


Over in this corner, we’ll add a kick ass kitchenette.


Once we remodel the kitchen, the sink and some of the granite will get reused in here.  We thought the old range would live in here, too.  Until fate changed that plan.  Almost two years ago, we found a barely used 48 inch range on Craigslist for a song.  Initially, we thought we’d use it in the kitchen, but decided we’d rather have double wall ovens and a cooktop.  So, the steal of a deal range will allow us to bake out here in the summer, without heating up the house in the process.


As for the pool itself, we do plan to fix it.  It might need some new plumbing work, and certainly needs a new liner.  Most of these plans aren’t a priority.  We’ll have to change out the doors and windows soon-ish.  Some kitchen work will probably happen when we work on the main kitchen.  Other than that, we’ll just have to see when things happen.  For now, it’s an extremely convenient place to store everything we need for larger projects.

Technicolor Landscape

With all the rock we hauled, moved, and spread last summer, this year’s landscape work is a walk in the park, comparatively.  That’s kind of a literal way of going about it, too.  A lot lately, I’m wandering around neighborhoods, looking at my favorite yards for plant inspiration.  Or local nurseries, Home Depot, and Lowe’s.  Over the last year, I’ve been collecting data, looking for full sun plants that can handle heat and cold.  Those twelve aren’t the only good/usable/pretty plants, though.

I’ve become borderline obsessed with Russian Sage.  It’s all over around here and I’m totally envious of the mature plants I see.

A plant that is cold hardy, loves full sun, and requires little watering gets an A+ in my book.  I’ve recently added a few to our yard, and I’m impatiently waiting to put in more after siding wraps up.

In addition to non native plants, like the leafy evergreen boxwood, bright spirea, and shade loving hostas, I want to layer in native plants.  Coneflower, black-eyed Susans, and Lupine grow wild in Montana.  These pink ones will add a nice burst of color.  Coneflower

At the very least, I’ll incorporate native looking plants, because most native plants aren’t available for purchase.  I’m thinking several ornamental grasses.  Foerester’s feather reed grass performs well, as do Elijah Blue Fescue and various fountain grasses.

So I drew up a plan.  In part to show Ben exactly what I’ve got in mind.  Also because I can go plant crazy and need a plan to stay focused.  Or, for the times I go plant crazy and he wonders what the hell I’m doing with all those.  Here’s a full property plan, not at all to scale:


But because everything is better in color, this is the Wizard of Oz landscape plans, now in Technicolor:


The plan above is actually what I’ve already gotten in the ground.  Up front, along the bocce court I’ve added an assortment of evergreens, spirea, Russian sage, and grasses.  A few buffalo junipers, succulents, hosta, and hydrangea are living in the back.  Since planning (and really wanting to liven up the limestone) I’ve become a plant addict.  In my mind, I’ve got at least 50 more plants to add around the house.  To help you understand the crazy in my head, here’s a plant key to guide you.


That’s a lot of plants dotted around.


I know it’s hard to see everything, so I’ve divided the plan into quadrants to explain.  In the top right section, alongside the walkway, I’d like a mix bag of ornamental grasses and native-like flowers.  In the shaded side, a few more hosta plants to fill in the gaps.  After the siding, a row of tall grasses will border the garage side.  Which I think will look stunning against the rust steel siding.


We’ve kept the top left quarter (behind the pool house) native, so it has short grasses and native Trilobe Sumac.


Going to the bottom left, we’ve got a row of alternating fountain grass and Elijah blue fescue close to the bocce court.  Next row has Russian Sage, a Spanish Broom, three spirea, and a boxwood.  Closest to the hill are nest spruce and a Purple Leaf Sand Cherry.  Oh, and the light zig zag is to show where the hills are.


Last, between the road and driveway, another mix of creeping evergreens (to drape the rock in year round color) punctuated with Russian sage will soften the hill.  In addition to a straight line of bright green boxwood, I’d like a row of tall grasses close to the house.  They’re perfect because the upright nature doesn’t encroach on walking space.  Under the house bump outs, I want a few more grasses and low evergreens in front of the basement windows.


I’m sure I’ll find other plants I have to incorporate, but the basic plan is in place.  My most impatient self is willing the plants to mature at a rapid rate.  Fill in, little buddies.

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.


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