Thursday, June 28, 2012

Two

July 3, 2012 marks two blissful years of marriage.
A day we will never forget. 
A day surrounded by our closest family and friends. 
A day of sunshine. 
Of overflowing amount of love.  
Of funny heartfelt vows.  
Of ice cream and cupcakes and candy.  
Of months and months of handmade details and insane amounts of crafts.  
Of crazy dance music and a packed dance floor.  
Of "impossible-to-find-in-July" peonies in a bouquet. 
Of summer beer, bud light lime, and 312.

A day of us. 
Of an incredibly beautiful sparkler dance to our favorite country song.  
A day of more happiness than we could of ever imagined. 
A day we can't think about without smiling. 
Of celebration. 
Of laying in bed at 2am, chatting away, reflecting on how the day was better than we could have ever dreamed. 
Of realizing we were finally husband and wife. 
A day that made a stressful 7 months of planning worth every damn second.
A day that marked the beginning of our lives together. 

Two years ago today, for two people, was too good to be true.  
Here's two to many, many, more days like that.


















A little shoutout to our favorite wedding vendors- thank you for making our day so special!

Photographer: Rich Chapman
Florist: Becca Blue
Cupcakes: Molly's
Venue: CD & ME


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Veggie Tales

One of the problems with buying our house during December, was that we really had no idea what the outside looked like.  Imagine our surprise when (after living in our house for about 9 months) our next door neighbor informed us that what slightly resembled a vegetable garden, was actually on our property!  


Looking back it should have been obvious that this little-plot-of-potential belonged to us, it was full of weeds, grass, and even a few flowers.  In contrast, our neighbors have a meticulous yard and spend a great deal of time making it look that way. The more obvious sign that the garden is ours should have been the fact that our neighbors have their own vegetable garden RIGHT next to the garden in question.  Why we didn't realize that most people don't have 2 gardens, is beyond me.



Regardless, we were excited to have a garden!  At that point it was too late in the year to plant any vegetables so the plans were made - the Summer of 2012 would be our year for fresh herbs and veggies. 


We started out by clearing out the mangled field of weeds. Reed cut them down to the ground with the weed whacker and we were left with were roots and stems.  For some odd reason we felt some attachment to the blooming daisies (which we previously thought were weeds), so we let them stay for a few weeks.  First we killed (by digging out the roots) and then we tilled (the same day that we rented the tiller for the front landscaping).



We wanted to start with just a few plants that we thought would be easy. As we've mentioned, we need to build confidence in our growing abilities before we tackle anything too complicated.  We picked 3 cherry tomatoes, 3 basil, 2 cilantro, 1 jalopeno, 1 cherry pepper (Jimmy Johns hot peppers), and 2 zucchinis.  There really wasn't any rhyme or reason to the numbers or varieties.  We realized that it is just as dangerous for me to be placed in the vegetable section at Home Depot as it is to be shopping in the shoe section at Nordstrom Rack, although slightly less damaging to the wallet. :)




After we got our little babies planted, we decided we needed to do something about the rotting wood edging around the garden.  The following weekend we got out some shovels and pulled it all out.  Reed thought it would be a perfect chance to use the left over landscaping blocks from last summer (more on that later) to create a border around the garden.  I was less than thrilled about this idea (seemed like a lot of work to do in 95 degree weather), but he was right. We have more space in the garage now and the garden has been beautified.



The process was actually really simple. Thankfully, after we pulled the old wood border out of the ground, there wasn't much digging left to do. We dug the trench a little wider (to fit the blocks), poured some sand/gravel Paver-Base Mix, compacted it with a hand tamper, and set the bricks in place.  After a few good whacks with a rubber mallet and a quick check with the level our brand new border was complete.  To be honest,the most difficult part was probably carrying the blocks and the 50lb bags of paver mix to the backyard.






After the new blocks were laid, we put up a chicken wire fence to keep the little animals out.  Seriously our backyard often reminds us of a weird scene in a Disney movie where all of the animals gather for meetings.   The only difference is that we usually scare them away when we go outside, so you can consider us the opposite of a beautiful singing princess.  We don't mind the animal conferences and its actually pretty fun to see all of them from our kitchen windows; but we knew that if we had any chance of producing edible vegetables, we had to keep the critters out of the garden.






So that is the story of the garden that we never knew we had.  And if you never hear about this garden again- its probably because it wasn't successful... But we are spending our days watering the garden dreaming of basil pesto and spicy peppers, and we are oh so hopeful.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cheery Yellow Chairs

Hello there.  I'm taking a break from the (dreaded) yardwork to bring you a little update on some inside decorating.  You may remember the "gorgeous" chairs that Reed and I found on the side of the road during Glen Ellyn Clean Sweep Weekend.  It was time to give them a much needed makeover so they could find a new home at our kitchen table. 




Eventually, we have plans to build a nice big "U" shaped seating bench in this dining area, complete with storage underneath and a big pedestal table. Knowing these chairs were only going to be a temporary fix made me more confident in picking something on the wild side for this makeover (such a risk taker over here).


While the wood on the chairs was still in pretty good shape (and some people may wonder why not just leave it how it is), I was worried about the contrast with the wood cabinets, wood floor, dark wood (almost black) table.  So a colorful set of chairs was definitely in our future. I spent some time on Pinterest, looking at kitchens with a mixture of chairs around the table. I found a decent amount of pin-spiration (ya like that?), allow me to show you my pretty colorful chair finds...


Photo Credit (here, here, here, here)


Before beginning the two part makeover, I started by wiping the chairs down with soap and water (adios moth balls). 


Step One: Reupholstering the Cushion
  • Once the chairs were semi-clean, I flipped them over and unscrewed the screws attaching the cushions to the chairs. 



  • I pulled off both layers of the old fabric from the cushion. This step isn't always necessary (you can simply reupholster cushions by putting new fabric over the old fabric), but given the age of the chairs the fabric had seen better days.  And finding them in the garbage didn't make me feel so good about the cleanliness factor of the old cushions.

  • Once I had removed two old layers of fabric/leather (and all the staples), I was down to the piece of foam and wooden bottom.  Like our other upholstery projects (Entryway Bench, Bulletin Board, CrossFit Bulletin Board).  I started by cutting the fabric to size (fabric purchased at Fabric.com).
  • Next I used our staple gun to start attaching the fabric.  I like to work the staples by starting at 12, 6, 3, 9 (imagine a clock).  Then I just work my way around, pulling the fabric tight and adding more staples.


  • Once I have all of the sides stapled, I work on the corners.  I like to pinch the fabric so it looks like a rectangle from the bottom.  I think corners are a personal preference- so if you have a better or easier way, go for it! Regardless of how you finish your corners, be sure to stay consistent so they all look the same.



  • Last (but not least), when you've finished stapling, cut the extra fabric off.  I usually leave about a 1/2 inch past the row of staples.
(Trying to decide whether to paint the chairs teal or yellow.  The floral chair cushions are from World Market)

Step Two: Painting the Chairs
  • I quickly took some 200 grit sandpaper and roughened up the surface of our new chairs.  Its important to give the spray paint a surface for it to stick to so it doesn't chip away with use.
  • Just to be safe, I wiped down the chairs with some mineral spirits to keep the dust from making the finish bumpy.
  • Next I used some Rustoleum White Primer to prime the chairs.
  • 48+ hours later (I like to allow plenty of drying time), I attached the handy dandy sprayer to my can of Rustoleum Summer Squash yellow paint and started spraying.  I tried to apply a few light coats to avoid drip marks.
  • After the first coat of yellow was dry (I waited 24+ hours between coats), I went back and did another.  Some of the wood grain was still showing through.  Each chair took an entire can of spray paint! 

(The yellow in the photo below is a little brighter than the chairs are in real life)


We attached the cushions back to the chairs and placed them at the heads of the table (what is the plural of the "head of the table?").  We are loving the sunny yellow and cherry red addition to our calm bluish-green walls. While we tend to start a room with a neutral base, we typically end up finishing it by adding pops of color to brighten things up.  Taking risks with color is easier for us to handle when we are adding accessories that can be easily switched out. (Obviously, I'm sure there will be a day when we get tired of the yellow or red). 


But for now, we are happy to have made some cheer-y chairs for additional kitchen seating. The more (seats) the merrier, right?



Kinda makes me want to find 4 more old chairs to replace the black ones... thoughts?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Turning a New Leaf

First of all, we need to apologize for the lack of posts over the past few weeks.  With all of this beautiful weather, it's been hard to find the motivation to work on house projects.  On the plus side, the weather has been perfect for working outside (and for improving our post-winter-vampire-like skin color).    



When it comes to plants, Harley is pretty much our only success story.  If growing weeds counts then you can add that to the list.  If a plant needs a lot of water, we forget to water it.  If the plant doesn't need a lot of water, we give it too much (the same can be said about sunlight).  We don't try to kill our plants but over the past year and a half, we've done a pretty good job of it.



That being said, this year is going to be different.  We are now well into the growing season of 2012 and we are feeling confident (for the most part).  Since we moved in, we have focused almost entirely on the inside of our house so it is time for us to give the outside a face lift.

Being the DIYers that we are, we knew that we wanted to do the bulk of the grunt work ourselves but deciding what to plant and where to plant it wasn't something we were comfortable doing on our own.  The last thing we wanted to do was put plants in spots where they wouldn't grow so we decided that our best bet would be to have a landscape plan drawn up.

After making some phone calls and meeting with several landscape architects, we decided to work with Suellen Furfaro.  We really liked that she would come out to our house and work with us to pick plants that fit our style.  Some of the other designers that we talked to would just work off of pictures of our house.  It also helped that she lives down the street from some of our friends so we were able to drive by and scope out how she landscaped her own yard (is that creepy? haha).

Suellen came to our house twice, first for our initial consult and then to discuss the final plan.  During the initial meeting, we spent time walking around the yard discussing what we liked/didn't like (more of the latter than the former).  We asked her to try to incorporate some of our existing plants into the new design. We also stressed the importance of low maintenance plants- although, I think it was clear by the current condition of our yard that we didn't enjoy caring for it. Once we finished our discussions, Suellen stayed for a few more hours to take pictures and detailed measurements of our yard.  We also gave her a copy of our survey plat for reference.

Two weeks later, we were thrilled to see the finished plan.  We asked if she had created it in AutoCAD but she had actually drawn everything by hand.  Now that we had this great plan, we had no excuses to avoid pulling out the shovels and getting our hands dirty.  It was time to get to work.



Our current 2012 landscaping "to do" list:
  • Trim wild Forsythia bush in front corner (this one isn't leaving) - Done
  • Remove 2 overgrown boxwoods- Done
  • Remove evergreen bush- Done
  • Remove all limestone rock around edge (move to back for future project)- Done
  • Cut new plant beds with a shovel (& remove grass)- Done
  • Reorganize hostas near sidewalk beds- Done
  • Kill grass in brand new bed with Roundup (prepare for transplanted Vinca)- In progress
  • Clean up side of house that we've neglected for 18 months (aka the weed forest)- In progress
  • Till soil in new side bed
  • Move Vinca to new side bed
  • Move Day Lilies to back
  • Remove Rose bushes (pink & red)
  • Remove any other plants that remain
  • Bury downspouts
  • Till remaining garden beds
  • Order new plants
  • Plant new plants
  • Plant potted flowers
  • Put mulch everywhere
  • Remove weeds in Garden- Done
  • Till Garden
  • Plant Vegetables
  • Continue limestone pathway from screened in porch to back door
  • Pressure wash limestone
  • Water, water, water!

Adios evergreen bush

Our garbage men deserve a big tip this year

 The last of the overgrown boxwoods

 Getting closer to a blank slate

Planning the new beds with string...

...and spray paint

A good excuse for Reed to get on the roof

Killing the grass to make way for new plants


Clearing the jungle of weeds on the south side of our house 
(who knew there were hostas under all that mess?)

While we've made some progress, we still have a long way to go. We both took a vacation day at the end of the week and we called in the troops (our parents) to come and help next weekend. We are hoping to cross more off the list and maybe even get some plants in the ground (dreaming big, we know).