June 15, 2011

How does your garden grow?

So I am not a gardener, but I do like flowers.  I'm sure a lot of you can relate to that, but if you are a garden pro, I'd love some tips!

We have an ugly and giant cedar tree growing in our front yard, I wanted to cut it down, but it is big and old and does give some privacy to the front of the house.  Plus it's a great landmark for when people, come over, "we're on the right, the house with the giant cedar".

So since cutting it down was off the table I decided to try to beautify it a little.  First I trimmed off some of the lower branches to make it look more like a tree i.e. show more of the trunk.  Next I planted a ton of tulips (my favourite flower) around the base as well as a hosta and juniper, which were both donation plants from friends.

Everything was planted in the fall and then I waited patiently until Spring hoping that something would happen.  And then it did.  Green stems came up from the ground, it was like magic, I felt so excited I was like a kid again.
Look at them all!  And the best part is that the pink tulip was the first to bloom... amazing!

 We also did some planting along the front path, which was just all grass before.  It's so much more welcoming now.  I love the little boxwoods and there's more little bulbs that are just starting to come up.  We planted some decorative grasses from our old house, I hope that they survive the move.  Of course Teddy wouldn't get out of my shot... sorry about the furry backside.

We have heavy clay soil here so the digging was hard work, but I think it looks so much better.  I'm excited to see the garden fill out and learn more as I go along.  Who knows... maybe I'll grow a green thumb afterall.

So, do you garden?  Any tips for me?  We'd love to plant some bushes/trees around the perimeter of the backyard... any suggestions?

June 6, 2011

Why I am the Queen of Caulk

So I mastered the caulk gun.  Thank goodness since I already bragged to you about how I was going to be "so good at it".  Famous last words, but thankfully I was (and modest too!).

This tool, which looks like something found at your doctors office (enough said) is amazingly easy to use.  Here are my tips to a perfect application.  Oh and if you still doubt me, hubby said I did a better job than he did.  Bam!  Stamp of approval.

First you grab a tube of caulk.  We used this one because it is paintable and it cleans up with just soap and water.

Then you cut the tip off on an angle (you want the hole to be fairly small). 
These two details are important to getting a manageable amount of product coming out so that its not flowing everywhere.

Once the tip is removed you can load the caulk into the gun.  To do this, pull the trigger all the way back and load the caulk tube bottom first.  The top should slide in perfectly.  If it doesn't fit, you didn't pull the trigger all the way back.  It should look like this now.

Then you pump the trigger (this is starting to sound vulgar) to get the flow started.  Make sure you are set up when you do this because once it starts, it tends to keep flowing and you could end up with a big mess.

If you need to stop, or you start to panic, just hit the "escape hatch" button (above).  This will release the tension on the tube and stop the flow.  This was my best friend as I tended to panic a bit until I got the hang of it.  Once you get the general operation down you're going to apply it to the wall like so.  Hold on an angle and pull the gun towards (not away from) your body.

 Next take a damp rag and wipe your new caulk line (while its still wet) to remove the excess.  If you cut your hole too big you will have a lot of excess.

When the excess has been removed you can wipe it gently with your finger to smooth the line.

If you have not used the entire tube and you want to save it for future use you can put the cap on the caulk gun (you have to buy these separately) to keep it from drying out.

Voila!  Perfect every time. 

I promise that if I can do this, you can too.  Promise.  Cross my heart.

June 4, 2011

How to Make an Old Mirror New

So you probably guessed that this post refers to the magic of spray paint, and although this is not a new idea, the outcome is still pretty great.

We were given an old mirror from my hubby's nana which used to hang over the fireplace in her old house.  This mirror is solid wood and HEAVY.  It was also painted with a gold finish.  Not really our style, but the mirror has an interesting shape and some beautiful detail.

I painted it using Gloss Dark Espresso which gave it a beautiful dark gloss finish and definitely made it look more modern.

I think every time I spray paint something I have a "wow moment" where I can't believe that it worked again.  Spray paint is magical and if you haven't tried it yet, you must.

Now I just have to convince hubby to help me hang it.  The thing weighs a ton! I think I'm going to get to use the stud finder.  I love that thing.  I have a weird thing for tools.  Maybe I'll make some cookies... that ought to do the trick.

June 3, 2011

Its Curtains for the Dining Room

Don't worry, no one dies at the end of this movie, just beautiful curtains are hung (pun intended).

You may have noticed in the last post that we trimmed the window to match the door frames with wood trim.  This was a free project since we took the baseboards (yes, they used the same trim for baseboards and door trim!) that we ripped out of the hallway and cut them to fit around the window.  I also stained the wood around the window to match the trim, you can see in the picture below that its a bit orangey.
And now, a perfect match.

The curtains are up and they look great.  It's really starting to come together now.

Just a few more finishing touches and we'll be ready for the big reveal (although the above picture gives more than a hint at what it will look like).  Of course Teddy is front and center, he loves to be featured on here.

June 2, 2011

Dining Room Molding version 2.0

More molding is up!  It's time to show it off.

The room looks much more complete now and we are super happy with how it all turned out.  I have to take a minute to highlight hubby's pride and joy. 

This was his idea to wrap the box around the bump-out and it looks fab.  Great job honey!  Oh and I should mention that he also mitred EVERY corner of every piece of molding in the room.  Amazing.  I was planning to help, but I am not trusted to use the saw yet.  I did however get to use the nail gun.  I was pro.  I'll do a how-to on that soon.  For now, I'm just enjoying the view.

June 1, 2011

Dining Room Molding

We planned the molding carefully.  Usually we discuss and try out a few patterns with painter's tape like this.
And then stand back and see if we like it...
But this time something went wrong with the planning...

Someone (me) miscalculated the amount of molding that we needed by about half.  This of course mean that I also miscalculated the budget for this room by about half.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  Did I mention that I majored in Math?  How embarassing!

So since there's almost nothing I hate more than being over budget except rude people and Stephen Harper's hair (Canadian humour), we're taking a short break from the molding to regroup and save up for the bug finish.
Become a fan of the Stephen Harper Hair Cut
The room looks great, and we thought about just doing the two walls with molding since the other two will be covered partially with furniture, but I think it looks unfinished.  We're not planning to put any molding on either side of the window since that part of the wall will be entirely covered by the curtain panels.

Still in progress, but coming along nicely.  What do you think?