Friday, August 31, 2012

High Five for Friday

Another productive week to celebrate. I am so excited how our patio is coming together. Our hard work is paying off and we are finally enjoying our backyard.

I am linking up with From My Grey Desk blog to share my 5 favorites from the week:

1. Our patio is almost finished! Check out our progress here

2. In between working on our patio, we cashed in a Groupon we bought almost a year ago that was about to expire. We went on a Segway tour around Eden Park and it was so fun! I fell pretty hard going down a hill and tore my knee up, but it didn't stop me from enjoying myself.

3. We found some amazing patio furniture at a Hayneedle Outlet by us. It was about 90% off the retail price. All we need is a fire pit and we are all set.

This shows you how big the chairs really are
(and my scraped up knee from the Segway)

4. My students were back in school this week. It was so good to see them and was amazed at the progress most of them made over the summer. 

5. I finally got some prints from our Anniversary photo shoot up around the house. This is one of my favorites


I will be busy celebrating my birthday this weekend and enjoying my nice 3-day weekend with my hubby! Anyone have any big plans?

xo, Erin

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finishing Touches

After working hard over the weekend, we left it unfinished. The paver sand was in piles all over the surface of the pavers and Greg still had to finish the edging. We made it out there last night to clean up so we could show you some better pictures of the patio. It is almost done.

Paver sand everywhere

Knocking the dirt away so the edging could fit

Hammering down the pins

Now for the after clean-up pictures...

There is a small gap where we need to cut pavers still

Some things we still need to do:
  • Cut pavers to fit remaining gap
  • Fill topsoil around the edge and plant new grass
  • Build a few garden beds and plant bushes
  • Add a little more fine grain paver sand to the cracks

We are so excited about the 175 sq. ft. addition. Now we need to find some patio furniture so we can enjoy it out there.

xo, Erin

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We Conquered

This weekend was in the 90s, but that didn't hold us back. Two weekends ago we started our patio expansion project which you can read here. Our goal was to finish it this past weekend (or at least the major parts). The in-laws came to visit and lend a hand. This helped expedite the process and share some duties that would have normally been all mine. When it came down to it though, most of it was a one-man-job. Any takers on who that was?

Here is a little of what the process involved:

Step 1: Buy crushed limestone, preferably from somewhere local to save $

Step 2: Spread out limestone to approximate level with a garden rake

Step 3: Create a screed to get the exact level you need (we went 2 in. deep)

Step 4: Spray water over limestone and tamp down. It locks in place somewhat like concrete

Admire your work :)

Step 5: Have paver sand delivered or buy bags from Home Depot

Step 6: Lay a thin layer of sand. Create a screed to desired depth and pull the sand.
Begin laying pavers at one end and check your work with a level

Murphy investigating the scene..

Step 7: Stomp down on pavers that need a little extra help leveling (this was our last paver!)

Step 8: Secure edging in place so your hard work doesn't shift.

That is the general overview we followed. We learned a few lessons and short cuts along the way, but Greg really took over when it came to placing the pavers down. We handed him tools he needed or helped him hold the screed down, but most of the time we sat and supported him.

Can't wait to finish the final touches, like filling the small cracks with sand and planting grass come fall. We have already spent more time on our patio in a few short days than we have in over two years since owning the house!

xo, Erin

Monday, August 27, 2012

Patio Preview & A Vote

Our yard has been nominated for Yard of the Month for our neighborhood. We were nominated back in July and lost by 5%. Please take 10 seconds and vote for us, 23 Woodgate Ct. If we win, we get a $50 Home Depot gift card :) Thanks!

Tomorrow I will be back to share our patio expansion from the weekend. Here is a preview:

xo, Erin

Friday, August 24, 2012

High Five for Friday

Well, it's already Friday. This week has been very productive both at home and work. I love weeks where I feel like I have gotten lots done. Greg and I started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix after it was recommended by a friend. We are addicted and are on Season 3 already. We try and limit ourselves to one episode a night, unless we just can't stop watching :)

I am linking up with From My Grey Desk to share my highlights of the week:

1. These arrived in the mail this week, could not be any more excited. Too bad the game is still weeks away!

2. The patio process began which you can check out here and here

3. We had dinner this week with our realtor. No, we aren't moving (yet), but we have stayed in touch and catching up with her was so fun!

4. Just because flowers. Nothing else needs to be said :)

5. Last Friday of freedom, kids start school on Monday. I am excited to see them, but also know there is lots of work ahead of me...

Have a good weekend everyone, we will be busy working on the patio!

xo, Erin

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Patio Prep

Last weekend we started construction on our patio. I am so excited how smoothly everything went and am hoping we can complete it this weekend. We are having paver base (crushed limestone) delivered from a landscaping company down the street from us. With delivery, it will be $50 for a cubic yard of crushed limestone. If we were to buy the small bags from our local Home Depot, we would need to pick up 70+ bags at $3.49 a bag.  You do the math...

In preparation for this weekend, Greg spent a few hours this week leveling the dirt. This will allow us to get right into laying the paver base come Saturday morning. Greg created a screed using some left over wood in our basement. This helped to create an overall level between the ground and patio. We needed to go 4 inches deep from the patio and this was an easy way of measuring the depth.

Step one: Loosen the dirt on the ground with a shovel

Step two: Pull the screed along the dirt, pulling the excess as you go. Our backyard is not very level, so in some areas, Greg needed to add dirt where we went to deep.

Step three: Use a tamp to compact the leveled dirt

While working one night, this was our view:

Next time I update you on the patio, I hope it is almost complete :)

xo, Erin

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Blank Wall

This may be the only blank wall we have in our entire house. Not because I want it blank, but because I can't decide what should go there.

Originally, I had left it open for a vinyl wall quote with a "Welcome" phrase similar to this one.

Welcome, may all who enter as guests leave as friends Vinyl Wall Art

Then, there was the sunburst mirror trend. I thought I would jump on board and make my own using shims and painting it white. Not against this option, just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Paintstick Sunburst Mirror

The last thing I have been contemplating recently is continuing the gallery wall.  On the opposite side of the hallway is a collection of frames with meaning in each one.

Maybe a mirror and a welcome quote? Maybe more frames, all based on a common theme (wedding, family, etc) Any other different ideas? Which option do you think will look best?

xo, Erin

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekend Warriors: The Patio

Back in May, I shared some patio plans with you. The heat this summer was unbearable, so we are finally getting around to some outdoor projects.  Let me start by telling you how sore we both are. I think part of the reason we put it off for so long was because we knew it would be labor intensive. Last year we completed a garden wall in the front of our house. We have made an executive decision that it was the hardest project to date... let's hope the patio doesn't top that. 

This is what we have been living with for 2+ years. There are two slabs of concrete, a rotted staircase and no privacy. See that pile of pavers behind the shovels? There are 105 16x16 pavers that will be used to complete our project. First thing that needed to be done was to rip out the bush on the left.

Why not use the Jeep? We didn't want to make more work for ourselves :) You can see in the pictures that there is a spray painted line around our existing patio. We are adding four feet all the way around (3 pavers deep) which in the end, will add 180 sq ft total. Not too shabby.

The plan was to rent a sod cutter to slice through the grass and then roll it up. The guy at the tool rental place advised us against it. He said the machine was extremely heavy, expensive and the sod itself is very heavy once rolled.  We opted for the tiller which was way cheaper. We picked it up Saturday at noon and kept it all weekend for a one day price. Sounds like a good deal.

Greg had to rig a strap from the machine to his waist because the force of the machine kept pulling him. It worked out a lot easier, but he ended up with some bruised hips. After he tilled a large section, we got to work shoveling the dirt/grass/rocks into a wheelbarrow.

Day one we were out there for about two and a half hours and got the long side of the patio complete. We needed to rest our bodies in preparation for the rest. Our back, shoulders, abs and legs were burning. It may not look like we got a lot done, but we felt very accomplished. We showered and treated ourselves to a nice steak dinner :)

Day two. We knew the plan and everything went smoothly. We worked quicker because we just wanted to be done. We tilled the two short sides of the patio and again, shoveled all the dirt out of the way.

Here is a collection of rocks we found while digging. They are not just little stones.. they are massive. No wonder our grass has a hard time growing...

Oh, you were probably wondering where our multiple wheelbarrow trips went...

By multiple, I mean there were probably 50+ trips back and forth. We want to add a garden bed in the back corner and figured we needed some dirt. In the fall, we will also add some dirt to our existing garden beds that have got compacted down from the weather. Until then, hopefully our neighbors don't hate us.

Here is the current progress.  We have a hole dug all the way around about 4 feet wide by 4 inches deep. Some areas are too high/low so we need to adjust accordingly. We are just happy to be returning the tiller and moving on to the next stage: crushed limestone for the paver base.

Hopefully we will work on it this weekend and have more updates for you!

xo, Erin