Apr 17, 2014

New Dining Room Basket

By the back door in our dining room was a small basket on the floor below the hooks. Before we had a baby, this was a perfect solution for quick access to outdoor things we might need - a bottle of sunscreen, bug spray, pruners, twine, scissors, a citronella candle, etc. It functioned well but didn't look very good, so I was always careful to conceal it in photos. Check out that well placed curtain in the right corner.

Then Oliver came along and we suddenly had 15 different types of sunscreen, little hats, toys, and a dozen different possible things he might need outside. And then Oliver became mobile and suddenly everything was dangerous or messy and this solution stopped working for us. We had to put stuff in bags on the hooks or pile it on the chair. It grew overwhelming, cluttered, messy. It was time for a change.

At Target I hit the decorative storage isle, mulling over all of their basket options. They have a lot of really great stuff over there, but I had to be picky. The space is narrow so I couldn’t get anything too wide. Most narrow options were too small. A hamper was too tall, but I loved the idea of a lid. I also didn’t want to spend much.

Then I saw it - these canvas Bento boxes from Rubbermaid. They are so cool! And they happened to be very on sale (sorry the sale is over now, but the price is still pretty darn good for how great these are). Inside you can adjust the liners in different ways to hold stuff! The material is a durable plastic canvas. There are lids available that double as trays - perfect.

I love how the liners inside create cubbies to organize our stuff. And the lid hides everything away, making it much less tempting for Oliver to want to unroll the twine again (and of course anything dangerous like pruners and scissors still reside elsewhere).

I can also stack things on top of the tray now too, which is great because let's face it - there are just way too many toys to corral. As much as I want to believe we're going to live with the box neatly tucked away in the corner forever, really it's going to look more like this all summer long:

We tend to rotate bath and pool toys to keep things fresh, but I like to store them inside so they stay clean. At least the pool/water table bucket can stack neatly on top of the box when the weather warms up.

Apr 16, 2014

Pergola Trellis Building

Building the trellis wasn’t too bad, we got the whole thing built in a few hours. Mike bought the lattice in 2 pieces of 2’x8’. All of the pieces for the frame are leftover from the pergola project, which is why one of them is stained brown already.

We had one 2x4 at 12 feet, so Mike cut it down lengthwise with the circular saw just like we did for the pergola. Then he cut all 3 12 foot strips down to 97 inches, leaving 3 47 inch pieces for the horizontals. It’s really nice when things work out so neatly.

The lattice also had to be trimmed down to 88 inches tall. Originally I wanted it to be 89 inches, but we realized that would leave it touching the ground.

Once everything was cut I put the frame together with 2.5” exterior wood screws. I drilled pilot holes first with the drill, then used the drill to put it all together.

Then using the nail gun I attached the lattice to the back. I was so proud of myself for getting it together so quickly. I went to pick it up off the driveway and admire my work… and then realized it was STUCK to the driveway. I totally forgot to account for the length of the nails in the nail gun. They were too long. They were so long I nailed the whole freaking thing into the driveway.

I had to call Mike back over for help. Together we got it unstuck from the driveway and then I had to check out the damage.

It was pretty bad but salvageable. So many of the nails bent they didn’t want to come out. Instead we cut the nails sticking out the front with wire cutters and patched the holes with wood filler. I finished attaching the lattice in the loose spots with shorter nails.

From there we put it up. I dug 3 holes in the garden bed and we put the big, heavy trellis in. It was too high on one side, so we pulled it out, did more digging and tried again. It took some finagling but eventually it was just right. We attached it to the pergola with the nail gun and buried the feet. It’s really on there - we pushed really hard and can’t get it to budge.

Done! Now it does lean a little bit towards the pergola, but we knew that was going to happen ahead of time. The pergola is flush with the patio, the garden bed starts after that. We couldn’t get it any closer because of the buried outer plastic edging of the patio that holds it together. Once the whole thing is covered in vines, it will be less obvious and honestly it doesn’t bother me. I just can’t wait to get it stained!

Apr 15, 2014

Pergola Trellis Plan

Back in the Fall, we ran out of time to build a trellis for the pergola and the clematis vine. Having the winter gave us extra time to think about our plans. We decided that we wanted it to serve two purposes - not only to give the clematis a structure to grow up, but also to add a little bit of privacy using lattice and making it a little wider.

The new plan was to make it about 4 feet wide, and of course the height of the pergola top. This will add the additional privacy and make it feel more like an outdoor room. I think it also just balances better, using two 2ft lattice pieces.

The 3 vertical frame pieces will be long on the bottom so we can bury them in the garden bed for extra stability. The top will be attached to the main beam of the pergola with the nail gun.

I am planning on staining the whole thing the same dark brown as the pergola. I know it’s a lot of dark brown wood at this point, but long term it will look really good with the vines growing up and over. In future summers when the vines are established, hopefully there will be lots of green and pretty flowers too.

Here’s what it will *hopefully* look like when it’s up:

Apr 14, 2014

Easter Baskets

With Easter fast-approaching, I finally had a chance to finish Oliver’s Easter Basket.

The basket is another adorable felt number from Target, a frog similar to the fox one from last year. I recycled last year’s plastic grass too. There’s a sweet little dog made of a t-shirt material. Bunny ears with green gingham. We also got him a bag of plastic sand/gardening play tools that were on sale for like $2 at Target. He really likes water cans and big shovels, so we thought it would be fun for him to have his own outside.

Of course, Georgia gets her own mini basket. She gets her own stuffed bunny dog toy. Some dog cookies in the shape of bunnies and hearts.

Check out that puff tail on the back of that bunny! It’s hilarious. I should have bought 2.

Apr 11, 2014

Puppy Love

In those moments where Oliver and Georgia are nice to each other, and love each other, I can't get enough. More often than not these days they fight like siblings - never really hurting each other, but more like pinching, poking, annoying one another. But when they are sweet I just melt.

Apr 10, 2014

April Showers Bring Spring Cleaning

With the warm(ish) weather comes the urge to go outside and garden, and the urge to clean the house top to bottom. We started the early garden. We pulled out the patio furniture, the rolls of bamboo for the top of the pergola, and strung up the globe lights.

The house had a good scrubbing and I got some much needed organizing done. Like I managed to pare down 5 years of paperwork that filled a huge box to fit in 5 binders. Down in the basement during the reorganization I made room for several tubs for all my crafting and art supplies - I finally cleared my desk area to be a usable work space again.

I reorganized my cosmetics in the linen closet. I cleaned up my houseplants from a long winter.

I brought in more forsythia branches in the living room and they bloomed beautifully along with the Easter Tree for some much needed color. The bright yellow goes so beautifully with the wallpaper.

Now that I have a taste for reorganizing, I’m ready to hit up my closet. Swap the winter gear for spring and summer clothes. Put the wool sweaters into cedar.  Box up the boots in favor of ballet flats and strappy sandals...

Apr 9, 2014

Basement Trash Gone

With April showers came… oversized trash pickup. We were finally able to unload the last of the junk from the basement and put it on the curb. Hooray!

Now you can see the main water valve and what we have to work around. It’s really old and fragile. There are radio wires and gauges attached to it. There's a handle and spout that could be a huge toddler temptation. I don’t want it to hurt Oliver and I don’t want Oliver to hurt it. Or flood the basement. Since it’s mostly on the floor, we thought that maybe the best solution is to cover it with a removable sort-of-built-in bench. Something that would protect it, hide it, but still leave it accessible. Maybe box in the vertical pipe if we need to (though it's not hot). We could also just block it with something heavy that we could move, but this spot is right at the bottom of our basement stairs and that could mess with the flow.

Apr 8, 2014

The Easter Tree Bloomed!

It worked! Our Easter Egg tree bloomed! Of course Easter isn’t for another 1.5 weeks, but we are just enjoying it while it lasts. Outside the world is still so wintry and colorless (except for the crocus and snowdrops), it’s so nice to have a little spring indoors.

I have to admit, it’s really pretty and it couldn't have turned out better. I’m totally doing this again next year - our forsythia annually grows out of control. It’s so cheerful and bright and only took a few minutes to put together.

Apr 7, 2014

Preliminary Garden Puttering

It's official, I gleefully ruined my manicure out in the garden. SPRING! The raised beds were finally defrosted enough to plant spinach. April is also the time to plant lettuce, when the weather is cool and mild. It’s weird to me to be planting both together, but March was so brutally cold that I couldn’t make a dent in the frozen block that was the garden. The way our spring has been so far, it might even be a little too early for the lettuce - but fingers crossed this works. If not I’ll try again in a couple of weeks when I put the peas in on the trellis.

While planting the seeds I remembered how badly we need to replenish the soil back here this year. The beds have lots quite a bit of dirt to erosion - the level is really low.

The fig tree was unwrapped and I think it survived the winter - mostly. The heavy snow bent it so badly that I had to stake it.

I also planted some spring bulbs from a forced bulb basket. The literature said that it can be tricky to get them to come back, and it can take a couple years for them to bloom again, but I couldn’t just throw them away. I put them in front of the blackberry bush where we don’t get any spring color. If they come back next year, wonderful. If they don’t, no big deal because I enjoyed them all winter.

Apr 4, 2014

A Taste of Spring

This early April weather feels more like March, it can't make up its mind. Cold, warm, cold, warm. We do appreciate those rare warm evenings though and we'll take what we can get. Georgia especially - the poor dog is so tired of being cooped up indoors.

Now she's off to find and eat some more onion grass...