Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do you see it?

After my long search for a small console table for the short wall behind our front door (wow, that was a lot of adjectives), I finally found one.

Ok, so it’s not the ideal table I originally had in mind – I’m not really into the traditional style and the hunter green paint – but it’s about the right size for this wall. It even has a little drawer. I wasn't actively searching for a table, and I unexpectedly found this one at a vintage/antique shop for $25. At that price, I still have some room in the budget to fix it up to match my style more. I’m feeling up to the challenge. (Paint it? Strip it and stain it? I haven’t decided yet.) After all, I'd like to think that my furniture makeover for our guest room turned out pretty well.

So what do you think? Do you see the potential too?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Frugal Fall Wreath

It’s happening… I’m getting the itch to decorate for the holidays, and it’s technically still summer! I just had way too much fun decorating last winter, and I keep thinking of all the things I bought on sale after Christmas that I haven’t even used yet! I know Hobby Lobby already has all their Christmas stuff out for this year, but even I have to admit it’s a little early to be decking the halls just yet.

When it comes down to it, I really just like the look of a wreath on our front door, and it makes our barren porch feel a little more welcoming.

Then I thought to myself, Why do I need to wait until Christmas to hang a wreath? What about fall, you idiot? Yes, autumn – with it’s cool weather and beautiful colors – is almost upon us. The perfect excuse for some seasonal decorating.

Hob Lob knows this, too. With several aisles dedicated to fall/Halloween decor (at 50% off!), I knew I would be able to find the wreath I was looking for. And I certainly did find plenty of lovely, leafy wreaths… for $99.99. (Hellooo, sticker shock!) Even at the half-off price of $50, I’ll pass, thankyouverymuch. What makes a wreath so freakin’ expensive anyway?

Not to be deterred, I picked my jaw up off the floor and put my eyeballs back in their sockets. I knew I’d just have to channel my crafty side if I wanted a wreath on a cheapskate budget. On a new mission, I headed over to the floral/dried department and found a plain wreath made of branches for $5 (original price). Then I returned to the fall section and picked out a simple leaf garland for $9.99 (original price).

 As you can probably guess, all I did was wrap the garland around the wreath several times, tucking the ends into the branches to secure them. Easy peasy. But the cheap plastic used to string all the leaves together was still showing in places, so some skillful leaf-fluffing ensued. Then I pulled some leaves off the back side and wove them into the front to make it look a little fuller. 
WARNING: The wreath makes a mess because all the little twigs that fall off of it, so I'd recommend doing this outside or on a floor that's easy to sweep up.

Overall, I admit it's not too terribly crafty or creative. But by golly, it’s cheap and it does the trick! I'm kind of fond of the simple, understated look. If I wanted to add some of the bells and whistles like those $50 pre-made wreaths have, all I’d need to do is hot glue some accents (like mini pine cones, berries, or pumpkins) around it to dress it up.

Branch wreath - $2.99 (with 40% off coupon)
Leaf garland - $4.99 (50% off)
Grand total - $7.98

So there you have it – my frugal fall wreath at a price that’s much easier to stomach.

Is fall fever inspiring you to decorate yet?

I'm linking this project up to:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Meet Dudley.

Well, we finally did it. Much to Phoebe's dismay, we've added a new fur-baby to our family. I can't blame her for feeling betrayed, since I promised her I'd try to hold off on getting a dog for as long as possible. Poor thing has been used to being an only child. But after casually talking about it for quite some time, Luke and I finally decided to make the commitment.

Enter Dudley.

We rescued Dudley from the humane society a couple of months ago. (He had been named Dane by them, but we decided to change it.) He was a stray, and they guessed he was about 6 months old at the time. So he's still a pup, albeit a big one. He was really scrawny when we brought him home--with long, gangly legs and a big, goofy head--but he's starting to fill out now. We're not really sure how big he'll get... I guess we'll just wait and see!

So what kind of dog is Dudley, you ask?  Good question... we like to say he's a super-mix. We've heard everything from boxer to pit bull to great dane to retriever (because of his coat). Feel free to throw in your guesses, too! All in all, whatever he is, it's made for a pretty good dog so far. (Don't get me wrong though - he may look all sweet and cute, but he definitely has an ornery side!)

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Just shut up and show us more pictures of this adorable dog, Amanda!

Don't worry, fellow canine-lovers, this is not the last you'll see of Mr. Dudley!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Where the sidewalk ends

This is not a figment of your imagination. I’m actually writing about the long-awaited sidewalk update that I teased about earlier this summer. We've been busy bees these past few days over Labor Day weekend (taking three extra days off of work to focus on house projects), and I'm ready to show off some of the fruits of our landscaping labor!

Let’s go back in time, shall we? The first two pictures here were taken last fall, and the third picture was taken this past spring, after our limestone border was in.

After much contemplating about what material to use (pour a sidewalk? concrete pavers?), we decided on clay pavers.

And that’s pretty much where I can no longer legitimately use the word “we,” because once the pavers were unloaded onto our driveway, Luke took it from there. He painstakingly planned the layout, carefully cut the pavers to fit the edge of the limestone rock (going through several masonry blades in the process), and tirelessly toiled over our sidewalk for weeks. And for someone who had never laid a sidewalk before, I must say he did pretty damn good.

Unfortunately, I lost all of my “in progress” pictures, except this one.

But here’s the jist of what we/Luke did:

- Removing the concrete stoop in front of our side garage door (we debated about leaving it, but thought it would look a lot better to have the pavers there too, even though it meant more work)*
- Leveling the dirt*
- Moving sand*
- Spreading a couple inches of sand over the dirt, and leveling the sand
- Staking a 2x4 into the ground to form the straight edge for the inside of the sidewalk
- Laying rows of pavers, making sure the rows were straight, square, and level
- Cutting the pavers on the end of each row where they meet the limestone
- Spreading sand over the completed rows to fill in the cracks*
- Lining the inside of the sidewalk with "rock replicas" (concrete pavers made to look like rock), then mortaring the joints

* Denotes the only tasks I really helped with

 So, without further ado, here is the sexy new sidewalk!

It still looks a little dirty because of all the sand that was on top of it. Maybe I'll take some more glamour shots once it gets a good washing, but I was too impatient for that today.


[Yes, our sad burning bush on the right has seen better days. Don’t pretend like you didn’t notice. The scorching heat and dry spells took their toll this summer, or at least that’s what I’m blaming it on. But I think she’ll recover… hopefully.]

I've never appreciated a sidewalk more than I do now. It’s a beautiful thing. I'm also really happy we did a raised landscaping bed here; I think it adds more interest to this side of the house. (One of our other projects this weekend was filling in all our landscaping beds with river rock... that's a post for another day.) 

So, where does our sidewalk end? Well, it expands to almost double the width past the landscaping bed, and several feet beyond the fence to our backyard. That means we now have a place for our stinky trash and recycling bins, which were previously crammed into our garage. Woot!

Here's a couple close-ups of the outside edge, where Luke cut the pavers to match the limestone:

What was the cost of all this, you might be wondering?  Well, besides a lot of time, here's a rough rundown:
Sand: $70
Limestone rocks: Free!
730 clay pavers: $450
22 concrete pavers: $94
Total: under $620

Now that I’ve proven we’ve actually been productive this summer, I’ll wrap this up for now. It's back to the ol' grind tomorrow, but at least it will only be a 3-day work week for me!


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