Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Backyard Renovations

Hi all!  I hope you all had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!  I would love to say that I relaxed, and enjoyed the beautiful sunny, warm weather we had here in Maine with my family, but it was quite the contrary.  We all spent time together, as a family that is, just no relaxation for us.  Last week, we had an above-ground pool installed for years, and years of summer entertainment for our children.  Now, if you must know, whenever my husband and I decide to do a relatively large, somewhat expensive project, things never go according to plan!  No, that would be much to easy:-)  This was our backyard prior to the pool installation and excavation.  Look at that beautiful lush, green grass!

Our backyard actually slopes down towards our house.  There is nothing level about our back yard.  So, to install a pool near our deck it required a whole lot of excavation/digging.  We also had to make sure that the back yard remained graded in a way that would allow for all water run-off to go where it should.....away from the house, pool and swingset. 

I cringed as I watched the digger dig up the beautiful sod in our back yard.  My hubby and I don't exactly have a green thumb, but we are anal about our lawn looking nice.  Of course, there was a lot of digging done to create a level spot in our yard.  Where did all the extra gravel go, you ask?  Well, at first he piled the gravel in another spot in our backyard, but then we asked that he move it, and dump it in the woods just off our lawn.  Well, you can imagine the mess that left behind, not to mention the fact that they were doing this all on a rainy day, so the digger and then tractor that they used, dug up even more of our back yard.  Needless to say, it was a huge mess.  We had a friend of ours, who is a landscaper, come over last Thursday to access the damage and give us an idea of how much it was going to cost to fix our yard.  He suggested that we try to clean some of it up ourselves....goodbye holiday weekend! 

So, guess what my hubby and I did, along with our two oldest kids over the long weekend - yup you guessed it....WORK! 

The pool thankfully went up with only a few minor issues, but of course when we went to plug the pump into the outlet, the prong was actually a twist and lock prong, not a regular prong.  So, we had to hold off on getting the pump going until we could address that issue (more on that later).

Back to the yard work.  We raked, raked and rcked some more.  Raking gravel is not easy work, especially when it's wet.  We picked rocks out of the soil, and shoveled lots of gravel (which thankfully we had plenty of thanks to the big hole they dug).  Our friend and neighbor, Ben, suggested that we get a rototiller and till the area that was all rutted up thanks to the tractor.  What a great idea!!! So, I called my father and he let us borrow his rototiller.  Before we could till the ruts, though we had to put some gravel in the low spots, of which there were many.  So, we shoveled some more, and then tilled the area.  It actually looked pretty good, and should now only need a top layer of loam, and some grass seed!

We picked up all the debris and rocks, etc. to make it easier and cleaner for our landscaper to come in and do his thing.  Since we had such a big hole, the area directly behind the pool is now a steep embankment.  We will have the landscaper come in with rocks, and line that slopping embankment so the hill won't erode.  Keep in mind we didn't budget in anything for landscaping, go figure!

Notice that our deck floor is missing.  Well, this is yet another project we have going right now.  Starting either tomorrow or Friday, we hope to have a great contractor, who has done a lot of work for us, come and begin putting in a new deck that will of course abut to the pool.  We hope to make a screened-in porch on the back, with a roof, so we can sit outside during the hot afternoon sun, and at night without being bothered by the bugs.  I'll keep you posted on the progress of the deck, as well as the yard!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

3-Dimensional Paper Flower Wall Art

I am extremely visual, so much so it's somewhat annoying.  I happened to be leafing through the Pottery Barn Kids catalog, which I love to look at to get different ideas and then recreate them for much less, and I stumbled upon this picture

Aren't those 3-dimentional paper flowers absolutely adorable!!!  Once I saw them I just had to recreate that look for my daughter's room.  My daughter is extremely girly.  Everything has to be pink and frilly, so I knew she would embrace these beautiful flowers.  I loved the branches, but thought it would be rather daunting to make those out of paper, and then how would I adhere them to the wall, without it taking the paint off the walls when my daughter no longer wants pink flowers on her wall.  So, I decided that I would have the branches be an adhesive wall decal, and then I would make the flowers out of paper and adhere the flowers to the decal.  So, I sent this adorable picture from pottery barn kids over to  They will custom make anything for you.  These decals are great, as they are super easy to put on the wall, and they peel off without taking the paint off.  I simply figured out where exactly I wanted the decal in my daughter's room, and then explained that in the description section at checkout, as well as the length and width.  They created a proof and e-mailed it to me for review.  After making a few necessary changes, I gave them my seal of approval and they created the decal, and mailed it to me. 

As I waited for my decal to arrive, I began work on the paper flowers.  Since I wanted them to be 3-dimensional, I needed to make the flower layered, in a sense.  So, I went back to good old google and found a template for a flower.  Since I wanted the flowers to be of all different sizes, I printed off the template and then used my printer/copier to copy the template at different sizes, which simply required me to use the zoom feature on my printer/copier.  I ended up with 4 different sizes for the bottom layer of the flower (Part 1),

and 4 different sizes for the top layer of the flower (Part 2)

I didn't use the spiky looking piece as I thought that would be a lot of work.  The next step is to make circles for the center of the flower.  Again, you need to enlarge or decrease the size of the circle for the 4 different flower sizes.  Have I lost you yet??  But, that can all be done using your printer/copier and just making them larger or smaller.

I purchased some pastel card stock paper, which I found in the scrapbooking aisle at Walmart.  I bought two different colored pinks and then a light green for the leaves (which I will explain in a bit).  Using my templates I cut, BY HAND, several large light pink flowers (Part 1), and then several small darker pink flowers (Part 2).  I used the same darker pink paper to cut the center circles for the flowers. 

For the leaves I found another template on- line at

Again you will need to make 4 different sizes for the leaves to correspond with the 4 different sized flowers.  Use the light green card stock paper to trace and cut the leaves.  Again, I cut them BY HAND! You don't need to worry about drawing the lines on the leaves, as it is shown.  Once I had all the components cut, I then used Elmer's Glue to glue the smaller flower (Part 2) on top of the larger flower (Part 1).  Before I glued them together however, I made sure to cut the individual petals on the flowers a little deeper (cut more toward the center of the flower), as you will need to fold these petals forward later on.  Once you have glued the smaller flower to the larger flower, glue the center circle piece in the center of the flower (on top of the smaller flower, Part 2).  Allow those to dry.  Repeat process for all flowers. 

Once they are dried, I then just played with the petals of the top and bottom layer of the flower . I puhsed some petals forward enough so they were standing straight up.  I also folded some forward, some back.  I used a pencil and rolled some of the tips of the petals back or forward.  This helps to give the flowers an individual look, and makes them 3-dimensional.  I didn't play too much with the larger flower on the bottom, as you really need them to be mostly flat so they will adhere well to the decal, though you can play with the tips of the petals a bit.  With some flowers I did adhere, with glue, two leaves to the flowers.  Though, I did keep some leaves unattached as I wanted to place them in random places on my branch decal.  All the leaves, I folded lengthwise to again give them dimension. 

The branch decal meanwhile arrived in the mail.  I actually decided to have the branch be a dark brown rather than the light green shown in the pottery barn kids catalog, as I wanted the branch to pop a bit, especially against my daughter's light pink painted walls.  Because the decal was so large and somewhat awkward, my hubby did help me to adhere the decal to the wall.  It didn't take us very long.  The decals come with instructions as how to adhere them, etc.  I then bought some painter's tape, and folded pieces of tape and adhered them to the back of each flower.  I stuck the various flowers on the tips of the branches, and whereever else I thought it would look nice.  Once I was done this, I took the cut out leaves folded them lengthwise, again to give them dimension, and began sticking the leaves in random places.  I made sure that the painter's tape didn't show and that I was sticking it on the decal, not on the wall.  Even though Painter's tape is meant to come off the wall without taking the paint off, I thought that it might leave a sticky residue if it remained on the wall for any duration. 

The finished product was eye-catching.  The best thing is, when my daughter no longer wants flowers on her wall, it is completely removeable, and won't cause any damage to the paint or walls.  Here's pics of the finished product

Ignore me and my daughter's reflection in the mirror:-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Knock-off Pottery Barn Mulitpanel Eagan Mirror

I'm still working on my daughter's bedroom, but have been concurrently redecorating my dining room.  I wanted  a substantial sized mirror, and had been drooling over the Pottery Barn Multipanel Eagan mirror for a long while.  However, the large mirror is $699 + shipping - a little to steep for my wallet.
Eagan Multipanel Large Mirror

So, I turned to google, and began my hunt for this mirror.  I thought maybe I could find one on ebay, but in my search, I came across a couple of blogs that offered tutorials on how to make this mirror  (I thought I heard angels singing). 

Rather than reinvent the wheel, here are the websites we used to aide us in creating this beautiful mirror:, and

We purchased the 8x8 mirrors from  They were precisely 8"x8", with no variations.  They came as a box of 6 and cost roughly $19.  We wanted our finished mirror to be about 50 inches wide, and 34 inches high, frame and all.  So, we purchased 5 boxes of mirrors (30 mirrors).  We ordered extra in the event that we broke a mirror or some had imperfections.  We ended up putting six 8x8 inch mirrors across, and 4 8x8 inch mirrors down, totaling 24 mirrors in all. 

When my hubby made the frame for the mirror, there was a lot of measuring and re-measuring.  We opted to use particle board and had it cut to size at Home Depot.  We didn't want to fuss with buying two smaller pieces and adhering them together so we paid a little more and bought a full sheet of particle board.  We also purchased our picture frame molding at Home Depot.  The back of the mirror looked something like this

We added the hanging hardware at this point, as we didn't want to be pounding or nailing anything into it with the mirrors on the other side.  Be sure to purchase hanging hardware that will support as many pounds as the mirror will actually be.  The bigger the mirror the heavier it will be, obviously. 

Once the grid was measured and drawn on the front of the particle board, we began cutting and gluing the molding (it's helpful to use a mirror as a guide when gluing the molding into place.  We bought plastic mirror rosettes to place at each cross-section, and nailed them into place with cut tacks size #4.


Photos Courtesy of The Lettered Cottage                 

I couldn't find the rosettes at my local Home Depot or Lowes, as they only offered clear ones, so I just went on-line and ordered some.  Warning.....I think I paid more in shipping than I did for the actual rosettes!

Once we were done this process, we sprayed painted the HECK out of it!  We used Oil Rubbed Bronze. Gotta love spray paint.  After numerous coats,we let it dry, and then put some liquid nails on the back of each mirror and popped them into place. Let it dry and you will have a beautiful hand-crafted mirror that looks just like the one from pottery barn, but for much less money.  I think we had about $160 into our mirror but it's just beautiful and exactly what my dining room needed.  Stay tuned for more photos of my dining room redo!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crates on wheels

I've been trying to redecorate my daughter's room for awhile now.  With three kids, the youngest being 2, I am very busy.  But, after making that adorable bookcase out of wooden crates, my hubby offered to make some crates, slightly bigger than the ones I bought at A.C. Moore, and put casters on the bottom, so my daughter would have a few more places to put her "stuff"with the capability of them being mobile.

  He decided to make the crates out of old pallets that we had gotten with our wood pellets.  He used his saw and cut the boards off the pallets and used those for the sides of the crates, and then he bought a 1x12 board at Home Depot for the ends.  He used his hole saw and jigsaw to make handle holes on the ends, as well. Because we wanted a rather rustic, vintage look, we simply nailed the pallet boards into the 1x12, leaving the nailheads exposed in a sense.

 Before placing the casters on the bottom, which we purchased at Home Depot for cheap, I stained the crates and glazed them with the same products I applied on the crates for the bookcase (see my post on Crates, Crates, and more Crates).  Once this process was done, my  hubby placed four casters, one on each bottom corner of the crates, and they were complete.

Check out the finished product....

She has her stuffed animals in one crate and her dolls clothes, oh the doll clothes, in the other.  You could also stencil numbers or words on them to give them a real antique look and feel.  Super easy and super cheap!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Crates, Crates and more Crates

I have a new love......vintage crates. 

I thought it would be fun to make a bookcase for my daughter's room, out of old crates.  However, when I started searching on-line, I realized very quickly that they are very expensive.  So, I was browsing through my favorite blog sites, and came across a fabulous idea from Erika at Retropolitanhip (  She provided a step-by-step tutorial on how to make crates look vintage-like at a fraction of the cost. 

I first went to A.C.Moore and bought 6 inexpensive wooden crates.  If you print off a coupon at ACMoore.Com you can get 40% off one item.  If you buy one at a time or bring lots of people with you, you can buy these crates for $6.00/piece.  Once I had all six, I sanded them all down with my palm sander and starting staining them.  For stain, I used Miniwax Wood Stain in DarkWalnut.  I applied the stain with a rag as I felt like I had better control over how much I was putting on, as opposed to a paint brush.  Then I wiped off the excess.  Warning, these crates soak up the stain very quickly.

Once they were all dry, I then applied a glaze, that I mixed up myself.  I used Acrylic Craft Paint in Golden Brown and Medium Gray.  I then mixed them together with a Glazing Medium. Once I was done this, I painted the glaze onto the crates, inside and out and let them all dry completely.

The finished product was beautiful. 

I decided to stack the crates in a way that would compliment a 5-year-old little girls' room.  I didn't even attach the crates together, that way I can reconfigure the bookcase at any time, or when my daughter feels the bookcase is a little too girly. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Getting Started

May 15, 2012

Well, I have been wanting to start a blog for a very long time now.  I'm not exactly computer savvy, so I wondered if I would even know how to set up a blog, and if I muddled through that, would I be able to then figure out everything else.  Well, here I am, my very first time blogging.  I have been so inspired by so many other blogs and websites for the Do-It-Yourself er.  I love interior decorating.  I'm not a professional by any means, but I thought it would be fun and informative (hopefully) to share some of my DIY projects, as I renovate the home we had built for us 11 years ago.  My family has grown so we have had to reconfigure a few things, and am eager to share with all of you the changes (befores and afters) we have made and continue to make.  I only hope some of the ideas I share through this blog will inspire you in some way!  Thanks and stay tuned.......